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What is Suboxone?

April 3, 2021

Suboxone is a brand name prescription drug, which consists of a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat dependence on opioid drugs.

Typically, there’s four strengths of Suboxone:

  • 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

Studies show that Suboxone is effective at reducing opioid misuse, while also being effective at helping people who have opioid dependence continue their treatment.

How Does it Work?

As noted above, Suboxone has two main ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Each plays a different role in the overall use of Suboxone.

Buprenorphine’s Role

Buprenorphine is an opioid – like heroin or oxycodone – and is used to block the effects of other opioid drugs. All opioids bind to receptors in the brain called mu receptors. Buprenorphine binds more strongly than opioids like heroine which helps to block their effects. Second, when it does bind to receptors, it does not fully activate them, making the effects less strong. This allows for it to block withdrawal, which is one of the main problems that people face when trying to quit.

Naloxone’s Role

Naloxone is present in Suboxone solely to help prevent the Suboxone itself from being abused. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means that it blocks the effects of opioids.

The Benefits of Suboxone

There’s three main benefits to Suboxone as opposed to other prescription drug approaches:

  • Suboxone has a lower risk for abuse;
  • It has a higher success rate in the treatment of opiate dependence
  • There is a greater accessibility for patients who need treatment and help

With Suboxone, patients are more likely to continue treatment protocol and stay in a program until it is finished.

We’ve written a separate article for people who wanted to know how long does Suboxone stay in your body.

Are There Any Downsides to Suboxone?

Like most medications, suboxone may have varying side effects based on the individual. Most of these are not severe, however you should consult with your treatment provider and ask questions prior to use.

Suboxone should be used with a comprehensive treatment program. Read our full article about possible Suboxone side effects.

Does IHAT Prescribe Suboxone?

Yes we do. Suboxone plays the role of medication-assisted treatment as one part of our comprehensive patient-driven model, which also includes individual and group therapy (CBT, DBT, ACT, and more), addiction and recovery education, community support and more.

Doug Choate

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