What Is Suboxone?

Drugs like suboxone exist to help the 2.1 million Americans suffering from opioid addiction. Unfortunately, Suboxone itself has great potential for drug abuse.

Suboxone is one brand name for the drug buprenorphine. In addition to treating opioid withdrawal, it can also be used for pain. This particular brand name drug consists of both buprenorphine and naloxone.

This second ingredient discourages users from abusing the drug through intravenous use. Additionally, if crushed and snorted, the naloxone will prevent the user from experiencing the beneficial effects of this drug.

This prescription medication is classified as a Schedule III drug. Although this means that the Drug Enforcement Administration sees it as less potentially addictive than something like methadone, its use still carries some addiction risk.


Suboxone Definition

Suboxone acts similarly to other opioid drugs by binding to opioid receptors and inducing pain-relieving effects. Unlike other opioids, however, it is only a partial agonist of the Opioid receptor.

As a partial agonist, it does not have the same efficacy as a full agonist. It will act as an effective pain reliever, but without the overstimulation of the receptors that full agonists can cause.

How Is Suboxone Taken?

Suboxone is offered in two forms – a pill and a sublingual film. However, it’s not common to find the former as the stomach lining doesn’t absorb the drug well. The strong acids in the stomach destroy much of the drug before it can travel to the bloodstream. This limits its efficacy.

Its most popular form is as a sublingual film. The mucous membranes in the mouth better absorbs the drug, improving its efficacy. It can travel to the bloodstream quicker and more wholly than through the stomach lining.

Sublingual film is a unique kind of medication that dissolves under the tongue. It can take between 2 to 10 minutes for this process to complete.

There are four combinations that Suboxone is usually found in. There is 2 mg of buprenorphine to 0.5mg of naloxone, 8 mg of buprenorphine to 2 mg of naloxone, 12 mg of buprenorphine to 3 mg of naloxone, 16 mg of buprenorphine to 4 mg of naloxone.

Patients are prescribed varying doses as their doctor sees fit. These prescriptions are specifically tailored to the patient’s need. Typically, patients begin with no more than 4 to 8 mg. Doses change over time as symptoms of withdrawal change.

Suboxone should never be injected or snorted. The naloxone within this medication block the desired effects of the buprenorphine, but these actions indicate drug abuse and users should seek drug treatment.

Who Takes It?

The primary use of Suboxone is to treat opioid addiction. Patients should be over the age of 16 for this treatment method to be considered. Medical treatment methods like Suboxone should always be used in combination with social and psychological support.

As a strong drug, it can have serious side effects and interactions with other conditions. These include

  • Interactions with alcohol
  • Stomach pain
  • Allergies to ingredients
  • Digestive blockages
  • Impaired liver function
  • Digestive problems
  • Impaired lung function
  • Interactions with MAO inhibitors

Additionally, it is not clear if Suboxone affects an unborn baby. Consult your doctor before taking Suboxone if you are pregnant.

A Brief History of Suboxone

Buprenorphine has been around since 1966, but it took decades for scientists to figure out how to best utilize this complex opioid. The purpose of its creation was to provide the beneficial effects of opioids without the negative ones.

Earlier forms of the drug, like Subutex, did not contain naloxone. American institutions like the National Institute on Drug Abuse urged scientists to create a form of the drug that was less prone to abuse.

By 2002, Suboxone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and ready for market. Today, it is a common and popular opioid dependence treatment method.

Suboxone Effects on the Body

Suboxone helps opioid users end their dependence to harder drugs without enduring a grueling withdrawal. Although Suboxone has several beneficial effects, there are also some disadvantages to the drug.

Short-Term Effects

Patients should be aware of the positive and negative short-term effects of Suboxone. These include

  • Euphoria
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepiness
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Pain relief
  • Respiratory depression
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Reduced opioid cravings
  • Aching muscles
  • Confusion

The more serious short-term side effects occur when Suboxone use is combined with other drugs, like alcohol or benzodiazepines. They include:

  • Death
  • Problems breathing
  • Coma
  • Sedation

If you or a loved one experience these serious side effects, do not hesitate to contact emergency medical services.

Long-Term Effects

Suboxone is usually used long-term to treat opioid addiction. Unfortunately, long-term use of Suboxone can also lead to tolerance and addiction. If a patient abruptly stops using Suboxone after long-term use, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Dilated pupils
  • Yawning
  • Restlessness
  • Teary eyes

Additionally, there are long-term effects that affect physical and mental health. These include:

  • Nausea
  • Less pain tolerance
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Social isolation

As always, consult your physician should the negative effects of Suboxone interfere with your life. This is especially a risk should you become addicted to Suboxone. Addiction is a condition that can lead to damage to personal relationships and finances, a decreased sense of responsibility, and even legal problems.

Using Suboxone with Other Drugs

Suboxone is a powerful opioid, and as such, care should be taken to not combine it with certain drugs. If not careful, a drug interaction may lead to overdose and death.

What Drugs Should Not Be Used with Suboxone?

The respiratory effects of Suboxone can turn deadly when combined with other drugs. These drugs include:

  • Tranquilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Other painkillers
  • Sedatives

If these drugs are mixed with Suboxone, you could stop breathing. This can lead to a life-threatening condition.

Suboxone Addiction

Suboxone is commonly used to treat opioid abuse, yet it has the potential for tolerance and addiction. Only by working closely with your doctor can you try to prevent this from happening to you.

If you or a loved one is dealing with Suboxone addiction, don’t be afraid to seek help. Contact the professionals at Addiction Treatment Services to find out how you can overcome Suboxone addiction.