What Is Suboxone?

Miakayla Leaverson
Calendar icon Last Updated: 03/25/2024

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is an FDA approved medication, pivotal in treating opioid use disorders (OUDs) since its approval in 2002. As a Schedule III controlled substance, it carries a moderate risk of dependence, which underscores the need for its prescription and use to be strictly managed by certified medical professionals. While Suboxone isn’t a cure for opioid addiction, it is instrumental in the recovery process, helping patients manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, thus facilitating a more controlled and stable path towards recovery.

How Does Suboxone Work?

Comprised of those two ingredients, Suboxone serves a dual purpose. Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, attaches to the same brain receptors as opioids, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms without the intense high. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, counters opioid effects, especially in cases of misuse.

While it is an effective medication for opioid addiction, Suboxone is often utilized as part of a comprehensive treatment approach that incorporates not only medications, but behavioral interventions, mutual help groups, and treatment for any co-occurring mental health conditions (like depression or anxiety) if needed.

Suboxone Uses

Suboxone is primarily used to manage opioid addiction. It facilitates the transition from opioid dependency to a more stable state by mitigating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings. This allows individuals in treatment to focus on their recovery and rehabilitation, fostering a more successful journey toward sobriety.

How Do I Take Suboxone?

Suboxone is typically administered as a sublingual film, designed to be placed under the tongue and dissolved. This sublingual method ensures direct absorption of the medication into the bloodstream through the tissues under the tongue, providing quick and effective delivery. This convenient and efficient mode of administration aids in patient adherence to the treatment regimen, a crucial factor in successful recovery.

Suboxone Side Effects

While Suboxone is an effective tool in managing OUD, it is crucial to be aware of its side effects and the risk of dependence, given its classification as a partial opiate. Medical supervision is vital when using any medication, particularly those with addictive properties.

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Additionally, Suboxone side effects can appear after immediately stopping treatment. One should not discontinue taking Suboxone without talking to their medical provider first. Stopping treatment immediately can cause adverse effects and potentially lead to symptoms of Opioid withdrawal, such as:

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Irritability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling jittery
  • Diarrhea


Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any adverse side effects associated with Suboxone. Some of the symptoms caused by Suboxone can include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pain
  • Low energy
  • Headache
  • Tooth Decay
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain, including nerve pain


Suboxone vs Methadone

Suboxone and Methadone are both used in opioid addiction treatment but differ significantly. Methadone, a full opioid agonist, carries a higher risk of dependency and is usually dispensed in a clinical setting. Suboxone, with a lower risk of misuse due to its ceiling effect, can often be prescribed for home use, making it more convenient for many patients.

How Long Should You Be on Suboxone?

The duration of Suboxone treatment varies based on individual needs. Some may require short term use, while others might benefit from long term maintenance therapy. The key is a personalized treatment plan developed in consultation with healthcare professionals, taking into account the individual’s history of opioid use, response to treatment, and overall health goals.

Long Term Use and Tapering Off Suboxone

Suboxone can be a part of the treatment plan for months or even years, depending on the individual’s recovery progress and specific needs. The duration of treatment is a personalized decision made in collaboration with healthcare providers.

When it’s time to discontinue Suboxone, a gradual tapering strategy is employed. This approach involves slowly reducing the dosage over time to minimize withdrawal symptoms and support a smooth transition off the medication. The tapering process is carefully managed and monitored by healthcare professionals to ensure it’s done safely and effectively.

How Long Does Suboxone Stay in the System?

The half life of Suboxone – the time taken for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body – varies. On average, buprenorphine can have a half life of 24 to 42 hours, while naloxone’s half life is shorter, typically around 2 to 12 hours. This means that Suboxone can stay in the system for several days, influencing drug testing and treatment schedules.

Can You Drink/Smoke on Suboxone?

Mixing Suboxone with alcohol or other substances is not recommended. Alcohol can exacerbate Suboxone’s side effects, particularly respiratory depression. Smoking cigarettes, while not directly interacting with Suboxone, can impact overall health and recovery progress. Patients are advised to discuss their use of other substances, including alcohol and tobacco, with their healthcare provider.

Does Insurance Cover Suboxone Treatment?

A common concern for many considering Suboxone treatment is whether it will be covered by health insurance. The good news is that Suboxone is typically covered by health insurance plans. However, the extent of this coverage can vary widely depending on several factors, including the specific health insurance plan, the details of behavioral health benefits, the treatment provider, and more.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 is crucial in this context. According to this act, most healthcare plans are required to offer coverage for substance use and mental health disorders on par with medical or physical health problems. This legislation aims to provide equitable treatment for addiction recovery, including medications like Suboxone.

Nonetheless, verifying your specific coverage with your insurance carrier is highly recommended. Insurance policies can be complex, and understanding the nuances of your coverage is essential to plan your treatment journey effectively.

Additionally, many rehabilitation facilities and treatment providers offer forms or assistance to help you verify your insurance benefits. 

Taking the Next Step in Opioid Recovery with Suboxone

Considering Suboxone as a part of a recovery plan for you or your loved ones could be a significant step. It is crucial to engage with healthcare professionals to customize this treatment for your individual needs and situation. Furthermore, understanding your insurance coverage for Suboxone is essential for an informed approach to treatment financing.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a substance use disorder, help is available. Call 800-681-1058 (Info iconWho Answers?) today to learn about your treatment options.

Pen iconAuthor
Miakayla has over six years of digital marketing experience, working in various industries including cosmetic surgery, supplements, and health care. Her experience continues to grow in the medical field and wellness-related knowledge through her roles with WebMD /Alert and RehabMedia. With a strong background in SEO and digital marketing, she works to provide user-friendly, well-researched, optimi