Suboxone is a combination drug containing buprenorphine and naloxone. Physicians prescribe Suboxone tablets to treat a patient's dependence on or addiction to opioid painkillers, sometimes called narcotics. Suboxone film is maintenance therapy for patients who have already used Suboxone tablets as part of a treatment plan.
Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine acts as a replacement for the illicit opioid. Naloxone reduces the amount of opioids in the system, causing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if the dependent patient uses other opioids.
Suboxone, like all drugs, has the potential to cause adverse reactions in some consumers. Many people experience no, or minor, side effects from taking this medication. Most side effects are not serious in nature and go away after a few days. Some adverse reactions are serious and require the attention of a medical professional.
Like other opioids, Suboxone carries the potential for abuse, physical dependence or addiction. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies substances according to the potential for abuse. The DEA classifies Suboxone as a Schedule III narcotic, which means it carries a moderate potential for abuse and mental or physical dependence.
A physically dependent person will suffer withdrawal symptoms after the level of opioid drops in his system. This drop is the result of taking a smaller dose or by taking drugs that drastically reduce the level of opioids.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Abdominal Cramps
- Runny Nose
- Trouble Sleeping
Suboxone may cause side effects typical of other opioids. Most adverse reactions usually ease in intensity or stop completely after continued use.
Respiratory side effects are the most serious problem, possibly resulting in stopped breathing, circulatory depression, dangerously low blood pressure or shock. Physicians should expect side effects to occur, especially among the very old and ill, and treat patients accordingly.
Respiratory depression is a very serious side effect in which the lungs do not function properly. Symptoms of respiratory depression include slow or shallow breathing.
The most common side effects associated with Suboxone are not serious and subside after taking this medication for a few days. Continue taking Suboxone but contact your doctor if the following side effects become unbearable or if they do not go away:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Stomach Pain
Some adverse reactions are serious and require immediate attention. Stop taking this medication and contact a doctor if you experience serious side effects, including:
- Anxiety or Nervousness
- Blurred Vision
- Dark Urine
- Decreased Attention
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Loss of Appetite
- Loss of Coordination
- Mental or Mood Changes
- Pale Stools
- Persistent Sleep Problems
- Severe or Persistent Dizziness or Drowsiness
- Severe or Persistent Stomach Pain
- Severe or Persistent Constipation
- Slow or Shallow Breathing
- Slowed Reflexes
- Slurred Speech
- Swelling of the Hands, Ankles or Feet
- Yellowing of the Skin or Eyes
By body system
Suboxone is associated with side effects affecting the body as a whole in individuals who are opioid dependent. About 6 percent of consumers experience weakness and just over 7 percent suffer from chills. Headaches affect about 36 percent of Suboxone, while about 22 percent of dependent individuals experience pain. Withdrawal symptoms affect more than a quarter of people who use Suboxone.
Chronic administration of Suboxone may result in dependence; the individual may experience withdrawal symptoms if he stops taking this medication or takes an insufficient dose.
The naloxone in Suboxone may cause severe withdrawal symptoms if the individual injects this medication.
Infants born to women who took Suboxone shortly before delivery may experience withdrawal symptoms, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Suboxone causes insomnia in about 14 percent of consumers. The buprenorphine component of Suboxone may elevate cerebrospinal fluid pressure. Other nervous system side effects associated with buprenorphine include anxiety, depression, dizziness, insomnia, nervousness and sleepiness.
About 4 percent of Suboxone consumers will experience symptoms of rhinitis, including sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
The buprenorphine component of Suboxone may cause respiratory depression, especially in individuals who have injected this medication. Intravenous use of Suboxone has resulted in death, usually in people who have used benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium, alcohol, or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
Constipation affects about 12 percent of Suboxone consumers while diarrhea affects approximately 3 percent of those who use this drug. About 15 percent of consumers experience nausea and 7 percent report vomiting. The buprenorphine in Suboxone may increase the pressure in a bile duct associated with the gall bladder.
Some Suboxone consumers experience increased sweating.
Some consumers may be hypersensitive to the buprenorphine component of Suboxone. Symptoms of hypersensitivity include rash, hives, itching, constriction of the air passages in the lungs and swelling of the skin. Hypersensitivity may also cause anaphylactic shock, a dangerous and life threatening form of allergic reaction.
Suboxone may cause vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels. The buprenorphine in this medication may cause orthostatic hypotension, or blood pressure that plummets when the consumer stands up.
This medication may cause pinpoint pupils.
Taking Suboxone may result in adverse reactions resulting in certain types of hepatitis, a disease affecting the liver. Some consumers experience jaundice, or suffer a yellowing of the skin or eyes. Preexisting liver disease, hepatitis B or C virus infection, injectable drug use or the use of other drugs contribute to this risk for hepatitis.
Suboxone consumers have reported auditory and visual hallucinations; the buprenorphine in Suboxone is responsible for these psychiatric adverse reactions.