What is Suboxone?

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Peace Valley Recovery is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide patient-centered care that focuses on healing and recovery from addiction. This blog provides information, news, and uplifting content to help people in their recovery journey.

Authored by Elliott Redwine, | Medically Reviewed by Peace Valley Recovery Editorial Staff,
Last Updated: March 5, 2023

Suboxone (or Suboxone strip) is a prescription medication made with buprenorphine and naloxone, used to treat people in early recovery from opiate addiction.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which interacts with the same opioid receptors that other opiates do. This causes effects similar to other drugs, such as prescription painkillers or heroin, but those effects are much weaker. Binding to opioid receptors, buprenorphine aims to relieve cravings for stronger drugs.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of an opioid overdose. It binds to opioid receptors and blocks the effects of any opiates in a person’s system. Naloxone on its own typically comes in the form of a nasal spray or an automatic injection device. It’s usually used in emergency situations when someone is overdosing on opiates.

Suboxone is unique because it attaches to the same receptors as heroin or painkillers but does not produce the same strong high. Buprenorphine provides mild effects to relieve cravings while naloxone limits the ability to get high off the medication.

If you’re familiar with addiction treatment, you likely know what Suboxone is. You might even know someone who has been on Suboxone before. Maybe you’ve been on it yourself.

Suboxone is a medication used to help people in recovery from opiate addiction. It can be a helpful part of a comprehensive treatment program when used as prescribed by a doctor. There are many positive effects of Suboxone that aid people during their first few weeks and months of recovery.

Studies have shown that the medication can lower the risk of fatal opiate overdoses by about 38 percent. Unfortunately, some risks come with using Suboxone, especially when people choose to take it in a way other than it’s prescribed.

If you aren’t yet familiar with Suboxone continue reading to learn more about the medication and its effects. You can find out how improper use affects people as well as how to find treatment with Suboxone if you need help getting off of opiates.

How Do You Take Suboxone?

Suboxone is an oral medication. It comes in three forms designed to be easy to take:

  • Sublingual tablets
  • Sublingual film strips
  • Buccal film strips

The sublingual tablets and film strips are placed underneath your tongue and the buccal film strips are placed between your gums and teeth. All three forms of the medication dissolve quickly in your mouth. The film strips are similar to Listerine breath mint strips. Suboxone contains a combination of both buprenorphine and naloxone. It is available in four strengths:

  • 2 mg buprenorphine and 0.5 mg naloxone
  • 4 mg buprenorphine and 1 mg naloxone
  • 8 mg buprenorphine and 2 mg naloxone
  • 12 mg buprenorphine and 3 mg naloxone

The goal of any effective medication-assisted treatment program is to slowly taper your dose over time. Your starting dose depends on the severity of your opioid dependence when you first arrive at treatment. Then your dose decreases throughout your program until you’re eventually separated from all medications.

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Though it’s available for take-home use, Suboxone is safest when you use it under medical supervision. It still comes with the potential for misuse and abuse despite being a safer alternative to other medications used to treat opioid addiction.

Effects of Suboxone

When taken as prescribed by a physician, the effects of Suboxone are helpful during early recovery. The blend of buprenorphine and naloxone provides numerous unique benefits to individuals trying to come off of opiates.

For example, opiates are notorious for the intense physical and psychological reactions they cause when a person first quits. These reactions, or withdrawal symptoms, are the result of the brain and body’s dependence on opiates to function. Once a person is dependent on opiates, suddenly quitting drugs shocks their system.

One of the greatest benefits of Suboxone is its impact on opiate withdrawal symptoms. Since buprenorphine is an opioid partial antagonist, it interacts with opioid receptors the same way opiates do. This interaction relieves the more intense symptoms that result from withdrawal, such as body aches, muscle spasms, and seizures.