What is Suboxone?

Discover more about this breakthrough prescription drug used to help treat opiate use disorder.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a combination of two drugs. The first is buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist combined with naloxone, which is a pure opioid antagonist. Buprenorphine works by providing patients with highly diminished opioid doses which helps treat those who are addicted to stronger opioids. It does this by helping them wean themselves off the stronger drug while reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone, on the other hand, shuts off the body’s opioid receptors. Used on it’s own, naloxone is administered to prevent overdose in emergency medical situations. When it’s mixed with buprenorphine, though, it helps lessen the effects and improves patients’ chances of recovery.

Why Use Suboxone to Treat Opioid Abuse?

In various studies, addiction treatment specialists have found that using Suboxone or other medications to treat addiction is a great complement to various aspects of the recovery process. For example, when patients are less distracted by the physical symptoms of withdrawal, they are better able to focus on behavioral aspects of addiction treatment like education and counseling.

Side Effects of Suboxone

Some of the most common side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Headaches
  • Mild dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Sleep problems
  • Vomiting, constipation, and other stomach problems
  • Redness, pain, or numbness in the mouth
  • Difficulty concentrating

The severity of these symptoms vary from person to person, and most patients experience little to no side effects when enrolled in a Suboxone program administered by an addiction treatment professional.

Benefits of Suboxone for Opiate Addiction Treatment

High Success Rate

Suboxone has a high success rate for treating opiate addiction. Studies have shown as much as a 40 to 60 percent success rate. This figure is much better than the less than 25 percent who remain abstinent after quitting “cold turkey.” The drug helps curb withdrawal symptoms without provide the same euphoria as other opioid drugs. As a result, it makes the treatment process easier for many patients.

Lower Risk of Abuse

Even though it contains buprenorphine, there is less of a risk of abusing Suboxone. This is especially true compared to other drugs like methadone that are used in addiction treatment. One of the reasons for this is the presence of naloxone, which prevents a full opioid effect from taking place. Buprenorphine is also less likely to be addictive because, as a partial opioid agonist, it is a slower-acting drug with a more mild effect.


Suboxone is also more accessible than some other drugs. It does need to be prescribed. But, you can get a prescription from an authorized Suboxone physician and receive a monthly supply, if deemed eligible. This means it’s easier to stick with than drugs that need to be administered daily at a clinic, like Methadone.


It’s also easier to keep Suboxone treatment private since you don’t need to be in a residential treatment center or hospital to take it. You can carry on treatment while going about your daily life, and you don’t have to worry about sacrificing time at work or with your family.


Unlike other drugs, Suboxone treatment is often covered by health insurance. This makes it much more affordable for a lot of patients. Even if you don’t have insurance — or your insurance won’t cover Suboxone — there is a generic version available that is less expensive. You may also qualify for a payment plan to help offset to cost of treatment. In general, most patients believe that Suboxone is worth the cost due to its effectiveness in helping them give up opioids.

The Three Stages of Suboxone Treatment




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