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Suboxone Addiction

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is the brand name for a prescription medication designed to treat opioid addiction. It’s typically used in the management of opioid abuse and withdrawal. Suboxone has two ingredients: the opioid Buprenorphine and the medication Naloxone. The combined effects of these two ingredients reduce cravings for addictive opioids such as Heroin, Codeine, Fentanyl, and Oxycodone. Suboxone, like any opiate, and many other medications, can be abused.  For instance, some individuals buy Suboxone on the street to prolong their heroin use. If you or a loved one is addicted to Suboxone, seeking professional inpatient drug rehab will be an important step towards recovery in the safest way possible.

Suboxone is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States, meaning it’s a drug deemed to have a medical value yet also carries a moderate risk for addiction [1]. Therefore, only doctors who receive certifications from the Department of Health and Human Services may prescribe Suboxone. This medication is manufactured as dissolvable films and tablets. Suboxone and Methadone are both commonly used FDA-approved medications to treat opioid addiction.

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is one of the two main ingredients of Suboxone. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental health Service Administration (SAMHSA) [2], Buprenorphine is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). As with all medications used in MAT, Buprenorphine should be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and other behavioral therapies to provide a person struggling with opioid addiction with a whole-person approach.

Buprenorphine is what’s known as a partial opioid agonist—an opioid medication that produces relatively weak opioid effects. This means that buprenorphine reduces opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing the full effect of other opioids. Buprenorphine is a long-acting partial mu opiate agonist that acts on the receptor targets of heroin and morphine but does not produce the same intense “high” or dangerous side effects. These properties also make it a good potential treatment for addiction to opiate analgesics [3].

Addicted To Suboxone
Suboxone is a drug commonly used to help treat different types of opioid addiction in adults.

What is Naloxone?

Aside from Buprenorphine, Naloxone is also the main component of Suboxone. Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication that quickly counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. This medication is available in several formulations, including those intended for administration as a nasal spray (Kloxxado, Narcan) or an injectable solution. Naloxone is a safe medication and is not known to cause harm when administered in typical doses to opioid-naïve patients. Naloxone is known by the common brand name Narcan. The effects of Narcan (Naloxone) are rapid but not long-lasting. Naloxone is added to buprenorphine to reduce its abuse potential when injected. 

Since Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, it blocks and reverses the effects of opioids in the nervous system. The purpose of Naloxone as an ingredient of Suboxone is to prevent people from overdosing on Buprenorphine. Naloxone also minimizes a person’s risk of relapse by preventing them from experiencing the addictive and euphoric sensations that opioids normally cause.

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Suboxone, How Does It Work?

Using ‘medications for opioid use disorder’ is known as MOUD. Use of MOUD has been shown to lower the risk of fatal opioid overdoses by approximately 50%. It also reduces the risk of nonfatal overdoses which are traumatic and medically dangerous. Suboxone works by tightly binding to the same receptors in the brain as other opiates. By doing so, it blunts intoxication with these other drugs, prevents cravings, and it allows many people to transition back from a life of addiction to a life of normalcy and safety.

Can You Get Addicted to Suboxone?

Are people in recovery from opioid addiction at risk of becoming addicted to Suboxone? If so, how can they stop this from happening? Is Suboxone addiction better than opioid addiction, or is it almost the same thing? Is the risk high enough to avoid Suboxone, even if it might save your life?

Suboxone can be taken in tablet or film form. In both cases, the drug is dissolved in the patient’s mouth and absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This type of administration creates the option for users to take it themselves at home, instead of forcing them to visit a clinic each day for their treatment as in the case of methadone.

Even with the many benefits of Suboxone in addiction treatment, this prescription drug is not without risks. People struggling with opioid use disorder may take Suboxone in higher-than-recommended doses, without a prescription, or via alternative methods such as snorting in an attempt to experience a high similar to other opioids. Snorting a drug like Suboxone can lead to an increased risk of unwanted side effects and addiction development.

How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Suboxone?

In most cases, the risk of Suboxone addiction is significantly less than opioid addiction. One reason is that Suboxone is not as a sedative as other drugs, so you will be less likely to experience intense cravings while on it. However, Suboxone addiction is still a real possibility for millions of recovering addicts. In many cases, Suboxone is obtained on the street by those looking to find relief from severe withdrawal symptoms.

Addicted To Suboxone
The most typical treatment for Suboxone dependence is tapering under a doctor’s supervision.

Suboxone Addiction Signs 

For those who have a loved one using suboxone, it is crucial to understand the risk of addiction and to monitor for changes or other signs of it forming. Some of the most common suboxone addiction signs include:

  • Hiding how much Suboxone is being used or engaging in deceptive behavior
  • Taking Suboxone from others or seeking out a second doctor for additional prescriptions
  • Running out of Suboxone before they should
  • Taking more than they should, sometimes noting an inability to control cravings if they do not
  • Losing prescriptions, stealing from others, or doing whatever it takes to get the drug

In addition to this, some people feel withdrawal symptoms when they do not have access to more substances. That may include slowed breathing, trouble focusing and thinking, feeling tired all of the time, or feeling physically ill. These are signs the drug is being overused or, in some cases, abused.

Because of how powerful these drugs are, the sooner you recognize what is happening, the sooner your loved one can get the help he or she needs to overcome this addiction.

Suboxone Effects 

In a similar way to methadone, Suboxone can decrease cravings and will limit withdrawal symptoms. This medication is considered a long-acting opioid because the effects can last for up to three days. Because of this, the risks of negative effects are lower since they are more dispersed and less intense. For example, at higher doses, Suboxone is shown to have a lower risk of related breathing problems than some other drugs used for opiate addiction management, including methadone.

Though the risk may be smaller, it can increase dramatically if Suboxone is taken with other depressant drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines. These substances, in combination, can lead to:

  • Sedation
  • Breathing problems
  • Coma
  • Death

Short Term Effects 

The short-term, desirable effects of Suboxone include pain relief, a mild euphoria, and a reduction in opioid cravings. However, as with any other substance, there are dangers. Taking too much can lead to:

  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia

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What are the Long Term Effects of Taking Suboxone?

Although long-term studies into the side effects of this prescription drug are still being developed, a few things are known. Some of the long-term side effects are known to mimic those of other opioid drugs, most likely because buprenorphine contains opiates.

Some of these effects are:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of pleasurable sensation under normal circumstances
  • Decreased pain tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Cravings

These are the long-term effects that Suboxone and opioid drugs have in common. There are some long-term side effects reported that are exclusive to Suboxone.

Many users show what is known as a flat affect. This means they do not show or, possibly, feel emotion like those who are not on Suboxone treatment. They also showed a lack of emotional reactivity and seemed less emotionally aware. Some of the other side effects associated with long-term Suboxone use are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to regulate emotions
  • Loss of feelings of sexual desire

It is unclear whether these symptoms are a byproduct of the original addiction or a long-term side effect of the Suboxone. Further study is necessary to determine the full extent of long-term Suboxone use.

Is Suboxone Safe?

While Suboxone may have become a mainstream medication for combating opioid addiction, the question has become if it is as safe and effective as the drug manufacturers would have us believe. So when presented with the question of ‘is Suboxone safe?’ must look at a few factors such as its. short-term and long-term effects, risk of Suboxone overdose, and withdrawals.

Addicted To Suboxone
The inability to experience pleasure is a long-term effect of Suboxone.

Suboxone may be a legal and popular alternative to some other opioids, but that doesn’t necessarily make it all that ‘safe’ to rely on. It is of course possible to Suboxone overdose. Suboxone combined with other drugs (benzos and alcohol) can also be incredibly dangerous. And at the end of the day, you can still become psychically and psychologically dependent on the drug.

In reality, Suboxone has been useful to some people who have tried to get off of drugs like heroin and other dangerous prescription opioids by providing a buffer and some method of harm reduction. But the often-overlooked aspect is that Suboxone is only intended for short-term use and not long-term maintenance. When individuals use the substance for long periods of time, they become dependent on it, just like any other potent narcotic. Experts insist that Suboxone and similar drugs are only effective in combination with comprehensive treatment or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Can You Overdose on Suboxone?

Many people wonder if it is even possible to get high using Suboxone. Technically speaking, the inclusion of buprenorphine as an active ingredient allows Suboxone to be classified as an opioid itself. While overdose by Suboxone is not as likely as with other opioids, it is still a problem worth considering. When the medication is used improperly, or in combination with other sedatives, overdose is a genuine possibility.

By design, Suboxone is intended to be tamper-proof. It is the reason it contains both buprenorphine and naloxone, the latter of which is commonly used to reverse opioid overdoses in medical emergencies. In many ways, Suboxone has overdose prevention built right into its chemistry.

Suboxone overdoses in and of themselves are generally not a concern for individuals with an already high opioid tolerance. This being said, those who come across it and abuse the medication without an established tolerance may be putting themselves at risk of overdose.

Suboxone Overdose Symptoms

Symptoms of overdose can include:

  • Chills
  • Sedation
  • Irritability
  • Stomach pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory depression
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Coma
  • Death

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Suboxone Overdose Treatment

As with other opioids, one might think that the best way to stop Suboxone overdose would be to administer a dose of naloxone. This is not necessarily true. Treatment for a Suboxone overdose comes with another level of complexity. After all, naloxone is already present in the medication. Fortunately, additional doses of naloxone in the event of a Suboxone overdose are acceptable in the short term, though the victim likely suffers debilitating withdrawal symptoms after waking. The best practice is always to get a suspected overdose victim into the care of trained professionals. With proper care, many Suboxone overdose sufferers get back on their feet and onto the road to opioid recovery.

How is Suboxone Abused?

Drug traffickers have been selling illicit Suboxone to individuals throughout the United States. Most people who buy this drug illegally are not trying to experience an opioid high. Instead, they are trying to get relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of opioid withdrawal. 

Someone could misuse Suboxone by using it to relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms without a prescription and without undergoing treatment for opioid use disorder. In such circumstances, a person might take Suboxone whenever they begin to undergo withdrawal symptoms, fail to abide by any medical boundaries, and suffer an overdose.

When someone fails to start treatment for opioid abuse and addiction and consumes Suboxone regularly to live without withdrawal symptoms, they become dependent on the medication and never overcome the disease. While it’s easier to just use Suboxone, recovery is the true long-term solution for withdrawal and addiction.

Suboxone is abused when the pills are crushed and snorted, or the film strips are dissolved and then injected. When someone injects Suboxone, they risk sharing dirty syringes and acquiring HIV or another blood-borne infection. Injecting Suboxone also causes a much more intense high than snorting the pills.

Suboxone film strips are easier for someone to hide or smuggle, increasing rates of abuse for the film strips. Investigators have also found that physicians who were sanctioned for prescribing more opioid painkillers than is legal were also prescribing too many Suboxone film strips. These physicians were fined, but unfortunately, the damage was already done in their communities.

Addicted To Suboxone
It is also dangerous to stop the use of the drug during treatment because due to the dependence the body has created for the Suboxone.

Suboxone Withdrawal

Although Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction and withdrawal symptoms, it can still be addictive if abused. Suboxone can also have its own withdrawal symptoms. The good news is, that there is Suboxone detox withdrawal help available. someone experiencing withdrawal can expect to experience certain psychological symptoms as well as physical symptoms as the individual undergo detox. Co-occurring mental conditions may surface. Some medically-assisted Suboxone detox and treatment facilities offer expert care and assistance in handling Suboxone detox withdrawal symptoms. A good treatment center aims to make the Suboxone detox experience as safe and comfortable as possible. 

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can last for as long as a month and may include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Drug cravings
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Drug cravings
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Concentration difficulties

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Cold Turkey Suboxone Detox

Quitting Suboxone cold turkey and doing Suboxone detox at home is not advisable. Some individuals would rather quit cold turkey because they think it might be safe and more manageable than stopping slowly. It is not easier and definitely not secure. The known risks of quitting specific medication and drug cold turkey include loss of tolerance. You will be less able to handle doses you used to take because you are less tolerant. This increases the risk of accidental overdose if you relapse.

Your nervous system gets used to the way some drugs operate. Suddenly quitting disrupts the body, whereas weaning off the medication slowly eases this transition to unpleasant Suboxone detox withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be severely uncomfortable in some cases, increasing the possibility of relapse.

Suboxone Addiction Treatment

Deciding to go into Suboxone detox on your own is a big risk. However, with support from a medical detox center, you enjoy the care and comfort of professionals who understand the recovery process. Also, you receive complete nutrition, hydration, and medications for your Suboxone detox withdrawal symptoms. Even more, an inpatient treatment program eases the process and improves your health simultaneously.

Upon entering a medically-assisted Suboxone detox facility, an assessment test and health review will take place to develop a proper treatment plan. For your best care, it’s important to provide correct details of your drug history, health, and other issues impacting your life. Most importantly, medically-assisted Suboxone detox improves your life, so it’s best to begin in an honest state for a full recovery.

Medically-assisted Suboxone detox may concern tapering you off the drug. A specialist may prescribe medications to ease your Suboxone detox withdrawal symptoms and make the procedure more comfortable for you. Addiction specialists tailor your withdrawal process to your personal needs so you feel as comfortable as possible from start to end.

Support received in supervised Suboxone detox is quite helpful and safe. Qualified addiction professionals help you understand what to expect, helping you through your symptoms. The support of an inpatient treatment program is something you won’t get if you detox at home.

Addicted To Suboxone
The goal of treatment is often to comprehensively stop taking any drugs that carry a risk of addiction.

Detox Treatment

The first step in treatment is medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to heroin abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Now that we learned about the signs and symptoms of suboxone addiction, hopefully, this will give you an idea of what drugs you’re dealing with. If you or your loved one is addicted to suboxone, or suffering from opioid withdrawal symptoms, and at some point experienced opioid overdose symptoms, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional opioid addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. Contact us today at We Level Up treatment facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We offer an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

Addicted To Suboxone
Within our treatment program is a range of therapy options to support you. 

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[1] DEA –
[2] SAMHSA –
[3] NIDA –
[4] NCBI –
[5] Suboxone Detox – We Level Up NJ

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