What is Suboxone®?
Suboxone® (Buprenorphine/Naloxone) Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
SuboxoneⓇ is a prescription medication used to treat opioid use disorder, such as addiction to painkillers or heroin. SuboxoneⓇ contains two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, while naloxone prevents misuse of the medication. As part of a comprehensive treatment plan, SuboxoneⓇ can help individuals avoid relapse and stay in recovery.
How Does Suboxone® Work?
Buprenorphine, a main component of Suboxone®, works by attaching to and partially activating opioid receptors. This allows Suboxone® to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids. Suboxone® also blocks other substances from acting at opioid receptors, reducing the euphoric effect of using opioids. The second component of Suboxone® is naloxone, an opioid antagonist that reverses the effect of opioids. If Suboxone® is used properly, the naloxone component does not have a significant effect. However, if Suboxone® is misused, the antagonist properties of naloxone helps prevent individuals from experiencing a high and reduces the risk of overdose.
What Is an Opioid?
An opioid is a substance that binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and body. Opioids can be natural or synthetic; the body even produces its own natural opiates (endorphins). When used properly, opioids can effectively reduce pain, but they can also cause drowsiness, confusion, nausea, and constipation. At high doses, opioids can slow the rate of breathing, which can be deadly in cases of overdose.
Many substances fall under the umbrella of opioids, including both prescription medications and recreational drugs. Some common opioids include:
Opioid Use Disorder
Opioid medications can be effective tools for pain relief. However, taking opioids for too long or using them improperly can cause physical and psychological dependence. In opioid use disorder, people have problematic patterns of opioid use that interfere with their daily functioning. Individuals may also experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking opioids.
Treatment for opioid use disorder often includes both medications and behavioral interventions. Medications such as Suboxone® can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, while also blocking the euphoric effects of using opioids.
If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from opioid use disorder, reach out to an addiction recovery specialist to seek help.
Suboxone® and other forms of buprenorphine/naloxone are given as films or tablets that dissolve under your tongue. When beginning treatment with Suboxone®, your provider will work closely with you to determine the appropriate timing and dosage.
Because buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, initiating treatment too soon after opioid use can displace these opioids from their receptors and lead to withdrawal symptoms. However, when timed and dosed appropriately, Suboxone® should help to alleviate symptoms of opioid withdrawal and control cravings.
Your provider will carefully adjust the dose of Suboxone® to control symptoms, until an appropriate maintenance dose is found. Individuals generally benefit from an extended period of maintenance treatment with Suboxone®, although the medication can be gradually tapered over time if desired.
Side Effects of Suboxone®
Common side effects of Suboxone® include headache, nausea, vomiting, mouth irritation, and constipation. Patients may experience symptoms of opioid withdrawal if Suboxone® is started too soon after opioid use. As with any opioid, there is a risk of respiratory depression if doses are high or if individuals are also taking other substances such as benzodiazepines. With proper use and careful monitoring, however, these risks can be mitigated.
Suboxone® Prescriptions through Geode Health
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid use disorder, Geode Health can help. Our providers offer medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone®, along with comprehensive mental health services and ongoing support for all patients.
If you are ready to take the first step to recovery, find a Geode Health office near you or book an appointment online.