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Suboxone: Side Effects, Dosage, Uses, and More

May 25, 2021

This article contains general information about Suboxone, a drug that is used in combination with medication-assisted treatment and other comprehensive programs to help patients overcome opioid dependence. The information in this article cannot be used as medical advice, but rather as a general overview of Suboxone, its side effects, dosages, and uses.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a brand name prescription drug, which is actually a combination of two drugs – buprenorphine and naloxone. These work together to decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms as well as reducing a patient’s dependence on opioids in the future. 

Looking at them individually, buprenorphine is used as an opioid partial antagonist, which produces effects like euphoria or respiratory depression at low doses. It’s much weaker than full opioid antagonists such as methadone and heroin. Naloxone is used to prevent suboxone itself from being abused. 

Side Effects of Suboxone

The most common side effects of Suboxone are headache, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. The manufacturer of Suboxone also includes these side effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Numb mouth
  • Painful tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with concentration
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Blurry vision
  • Back pain
  • Drowsiness

This may not be a comprehensive list, so it is best to consult with your doctor or trusted medical professional about your specific medical history.


Suboxone typically comes in four strengths:

  • 2 mg buprenorphine / 0.5 mg naloxone
  • 4 mg buprenorphine / 1 mg naloxone
  • 8 mg buprenorphine / 2 mg naloxone
  • 12 mg buprenorphine / 3 mg naloxone

Dosage depends on each individual patient. For those that experience withdrawal symptoms from short-acting opioids like heroin, their dosage may be increased during their induction period.

Each individual is different and other factors that play a role include the time since last opioid use, short-acting (heroin) or long-acting (methadone) dependence, and the total degree of dependence.


Outpatient Programs

Suboxone is primarily used as an FDA-approved drug to treat opioid dependence. It primarily works by reducing withdrawal symptoms that can occur when opioid use is stopped or reduced. In this instance, it’s primarily used as part of a longer-term outpatient program such as the ones that IHAT offers.

Detoxification Programs

Inpatient treatment is a short-term plan used to help wean people off drugs such as opioids or alcohol, and in this instance, Suboxone may be used as one part of these.

Dealing with Pain

Suboxone may be used to treat pain (primarily because of buprenorphine), but studies have shown mixed results on just how effective it is 

Treating Depression

Suboxone is not used to treat depression. However, buprenorphine has shown to improve the mood in some people with depression.

Phases of Treatment

People going through opioid dependence are generally treated in two phases: induction and maintenance. Suboxone is used in both.

During induction, Suboxone fights withdrawal symptoms that occur when opioid use is decreased. It is used for people dependent on short-acting opioids such as heroin, codeine, or morphine. Suboxone usage generally begins when the effects of these opioids have begun to wear off and withdrawal symptoms present themselves.

During maintenance, Suboxone is used at a stable dosage for an extended period, keeping withdrawal symptoms and cravings in check. This phase can last several months to a year, coming to an end with a slow dosage taper.

Does Suboxone Cause Dependence and Withdrawal?

Longer-term use of Suboxone can cause physical and psychological dependence. This is why tit is best slowly tapered off with the help of your doctor. Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Does Inspiration Health Addiction Treatment Center Include Medication-Assisted Treatment Options Like Suboxone?

Yes we do. You may learn more by visiting our Services page. Suboxone plays a critical role in our outpatient program, but not every patient will require it. Individual needs vary. Please contact us for additional information.

Doug Choate

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