Opioid dependence is a challenging medical condition; Suboxone is currently the first line of treatment chosen by physicians and rehabilitation specialists in the fight to overcome opioid dependence. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opiate prescribed alone as a long-term analgesic for chronic moderate to acute pain relief. Emergency room physicians use naloxone, also known as Narcan, to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Suboxone combines these two drugs in a way that reduces the effects of opioid withdrawal and discourages opiate use. Learn More About Suboxone Uses


In-patients are typically given buprenorphine in the early stages of withdrawal. Physicians prescribe Suboxone for maintenance and unsupervised therapy. The target dose of Suboxone is 16 mg per day but a doctor may prescribe anywhere from 4 to 24 mg a day. Dosing is based on buprenorphine content. Suboxone is prescribed to be taken on a regular schedule and not on an as-needed basis. Place Suboxone tablets or film under your tongue and allow the tablet to dissolve; do not chew, suck on or swallow the tablet or film. The tablet or film should dissolve in 2 to 10 minutes. If you must take multiple tablets or films, your doctor may suggest you put two tablets or films under your tongue. Do not overlap multiple doses of film in your mouth. If you miss a dose of Suboxone, take another dose as soon as you remember. The only exception to this rule is if it is nearly time to take a regularly scheduled dose. In this case, skip the missed dose and resume your normal schedule. Do not take two doses in an effort to catch up. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble adhering to a regular schedule.

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Suboxone makes quitting opiate use easier because of the way its two active ingredients work. Buprenorphine is similar to other opioids like morphine and codeine but may be easier to quit than other opioids because it relieves pain without providing a pleasant, euphoric effect. Buprenorphine works by attaching to opiate receptor in your brain and nervous system in such a way that prevents symptoms of withdrawal to other narcotics like heroin and OxyContin. Because of this action, medical professionals use buprenorphine to treat opiate dependence. Naloxone blocks the effects of other opioids, such as morphine, codeine and heroine. Naloxone will cause withdrawal symptoms if taken too soon after a dose of other opioids. More About How Suboxone Works


Tell your doctor if you are allergic to Suboxone or any other medication. Seek medical help immediately at the first sign of an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction can be a serious, even life-threatening, medical condition. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include rash, itching, hoarseness, trouble breathing or swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face or mouth.

Suboxone can cause constipation. Drink six to eight full glasses of water each day you take Suboxone. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about increasing your dietary fiber intake in an effort to reduce constipation. Do not take laxatives without talking with your doctor.

Tell your doctor about your medical history. Your doctor may choose a different course of treatment or change the dosage of Suboxone if you have ever had brain disorders such as head injury, tumor, seizures, or breathing problems, like asthma, sleep apnea or COPD. Before taking Suboxone, notify your physician of any liver disease, stomach or intestinal problems, such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection, paralytic ileus or difficulty urinating. Share your history of mental or mood disorders, such as confusion, depression, thoughts of suicide with your physician, pharmacist or rehabilitation specialist.

Suboxone can make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or engage in dangerous activity until you know how you react to Suboxone. Do not consume alcohol while taking Suboxone. Drinking alcohol may worsen side effects. This drug can be habit-forming, especially if you take it for long periods of time.

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Using Suboxone while pregnant may result in unwanted effects in your newborn. Notify your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while taking Suboxone.

Stopping Suboxone use suddenly may cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Whenever possible, wean yourself from Suboxone by taking smaller doses further apart. If you cannot comfortably stop using Suboxone, consult with your doctor or qualified in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation center. More Warnings About Using Suboxone

Drug Interactions

Do not take Suboxone with other CNS depressants, which are drugs that can make you drowsy or less alert. Alcohol, medicines for colds and allergies, sedatives, sleeping medications and other pain medicines are CNS depressants. Avoid taking Suboxone along with medicines for seizures, barbiturates, muscle relaxants or anesthetics. Tell your surgeon or dentist about Suboxone use before undergoing any surgical or dental procedures.

You should not take Suboxone if you have taken an MAO inhibitor such as urazolidone, isocarboxazid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline or tranylcypromine in the last 14 days. Serious, life-threatening conditions may develop if you take Suboxone before all traces of the MAO inhibitor have left your body. Do not take Suboxone if you are taking sodium oxybate, otherwise known as GHB.

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Side effects

Like other narcotics, Suboxone can affect your breathing. Death can occur if your breathing becomes too shallow or weak. Notify your doctor right away if you notice severe side effects, such as yellowing of your skin or eyes, an allergic reaction, anxiety and nervousness, dark urine, mood changes, pale stools or depressed breathing.

Other side effects include

  • Shallow or slowed breathing
  • Feeling light-headed or fainting
  • Confusion
  • Having unusual thoughts or exhibiting atypical behavior
  • Chills
  • Constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain

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If you suspect that you or someone you know has taken an overdose of Suboxone, seek emergency assistance immediately. Contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or go to the emergency room. Overdose symptoms include excessive drowsiness, severe dizziness, very slow or shallow breathing and very small pupils. Learn More About Suboxone Overdose


Suboxone is a Schedule III drug, which abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.. Pharmaceutical companies legally manufacture Suboxone for licit use as a pain reliever but abusers obtain Suboxone through forged prescriptions, bogus prescription call-ins to pharmacies, "doctor shopping" as well as theft from pharmacies and friends. Read More About Suboxone Abuse


You may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Suboxone, especially if you have been using high doses or taking the opioid for a long period of time. Symptoms vary in intensity. Withdrawal is a normal, predictable, physical sign of dependency, not necessarily a sign of willful abuse. Withdrawal symptoms may prevent you from quitting Suboxone without medical assistance. Do not suddenly stop taking buprenorphine unless otherwise directed by your physician. A sudden cessation of buprenorphine may cause unpleasant and acute withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms include fever, sneezing or runny nose, goose bumps, and sweating and abnormal skin sensations. You may experience shivers and tremors, rapid heartbeat and rigid muscles and insomnia after you quit taking Suboxone.


Dependency and addiction to Suboxone is often difficult to overcome on your own, especially if you have been taking large doses or using these opioids for a long time. Fortunately, there are in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities where trained professionals can minimize withdrawal symptoms, detoxify your body and give you the tools you need to live drug-free. Detoxification, rehabilitation and counseling are effective therapies to treat addiction to Suboxone and other opiates.

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Keep Suboxone away from excessive heat and moisture. Do not keep this drug in your bathroom or car. Store Suboxone away from children, pets and adults who might accidently or purposefully consume the drug. Do not share Suboxone with others, especially with individuals with a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Keep track of your medication, taking note of any missing doses.

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