What Is Suboxone? How Does it Work?

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Sources
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Helm, S., Trescot, A. M., Colson, J., Sehgal, N., & Silverman, S. (2008). Opioid antagonists, partial agonists, and agonists/antagonists: the role of office-based detoxification. Pain physician, 11(2), 225–235.

Ling W. (2012). Buprenorphine implant for opioid addiction. Pain management, 2(4), 345–350. https://doi.org/10.2217/pmt.12.26

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Opioid addiction is especially dangerous because of the potential for overdose and even death. Millions of people across the country suffer from opioid addiction, as it is often impossible to overcome without professional treatment. Usually, an opioid addiction treatment program involves medications, such as Suboxone, to ease painful withdrawal symptoms.

Category: Treatment of Drug Addiction
See Also: Is Suboxone the Same as Methadone? & Vivitrol vs. Suboxone

Table of Contents

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. It is a sublingual film with a combination of its active ingredients – Buprenorphine and naloxone – that creates unique properties that lower the potential for misuse or overdose and diminish the withdrawal symptoms and cravings caused by physical dependency on opioids.
Full Opioid Covers The Receptor, Partial Leaves Room

Is Suboxone an Opioid?

Yes, Suboxone is an opioid because it attaches to opioid receptors in the brain, but it does not fully activate them. Suboxone is in a different category than opioids like oxycodone or heroin since it is only a partial opioid.

How Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone works by blocking the receptors in the brain that are craving opioids, without activating these receptors to create a “high.” Blocking opioid receptors stops the brain from sending signals that cause withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids. If drugs like heroin or prescription pain pills are used, the opioid receptors are blocked, so these drugs will not give off the “high” either.

Suboxone Ingredients

Suboxone contains 80% buprenorphine and 20% naloxone.

Buprenorphine, the main ingredient, is an opioid partial agonist. That means that it acts like an opioid, just like oxycodone, heroin, or methadone, but in low to moderate doses. Think of the opioid receptors in the brain as a door. Your brain throws the door wide open for most opioids but only partly open for Buprenorphine.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist or blocker. It blocks opioid receptors from the effects of an agonist. So, it acts to counteract the high you might otherwise feel from the Buprenorphine.

These two ingredients work together in doses that are slowly decreased over time. This enables a person to work through recovery while leading a more normal life without the intense pain and suffering of opioid withdrawal.

Suboxone was developed to ease the severe symptoms of opioid withdrawal. If an individual has a strong desire to stop taking opioids but is powerless to get through the withdrawal symptoms, then that person may be a candidate for a monitored and regimented Suboxone program.

If sold illegally (using names like Buse, Sobos, Strips, Oranges, Big Whites, Small Whites, Stops, Sub or Subs), then anything could be mixed in or made to look like Suboxone. Always get Suboxone from a medical professional to be sure of the ingredients.

How do I take Suboxone?

Suboxone can’t be taken right after drug use because it can make withdrawal symptoms worse, but can be continued for months or years as needed.

Will Suboxone Work for Me?

Though not a cure for addiction, medications like Suboxone can be life-changing. Suboxone helps your body feel and function normally. However, it only addresses the physical aspect of opioid addiction.

1. Suboxone is only meant for opioid addictions, which includes:

Suboxone won’t be used for addictions like meth or alcohol.

2. Suboxone only treats the physical aspect. Combing medications with therapy helps you tackle the mental aspects of addiction. Usually, there is more that’s fueling the cycle like self-esteem, depression, anxiety or trauma.

Is Suboxone substituting one drug for another?

No! Suboxone is a medication people need to manage a disease. A person with diabetes requires insulin daily and we don’t say that they’re addicted to insulin.

Research shows suboxone improves brain function. If you interviewed a group of people, you’d never be able to tell who is taking Suboxone and who isn’t. That’s very different from living in addiction. 

Explore Suboxone Options at Symetria Recovery

A Suboxone clinic isn’t a jail or a hospital. And, you already know, getting treatment for opioid addiction can change your life. Give yourself the benefit of:

Looking for Suboxone Doctors Near You Now?

If you don’t live nearby in Texas or Illinois, the Find a Suboxone Doctor article can help you find a Suboxone Clinic near you. You can do this!

Still Have Questions?

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Symetria has addiction treatment clinics across Illinois and Texas. You can likely get scheduled TODAY — medications or therapy.