About Suboxone (Buprenorphine/Naloxone)

Buprenorphine comes as a tablet or film. It is placed under the tongue or in the cheek from where it gets absorbed. It starts working within 15 to 20 minutes and is very effective in completely stopping the symptoms of withdrawal. This medication is given as a prescription and is available at many pharmacies. The medication is administered at home by the patient himself with monthly follow-up visits with the prescribing doctor.

Suboxone and Subutex are brand names for Buprenorphine/Naloxone, which is a medication that is used for the treatment of opioid addiction. This medication is placed under the tongue from where it gets absorbed in ten to fifteen minutes. It completely stops withdrawal symptoms, and is needed to be taken only once a day. These medications work since they are opioids but have some very special properties that make them suitable for use as a substitute for other opioids. They are very long-acting drugs, so a single daily dose is enough to prevent withdrawals. These drugs do not cause much euphoria or “high” so there is no reward to use them unnecessarily. Patients can slowly reduce their dosage with very minimal withdrawal symptoms. Eventually, patients may finally discontinue it altogether and be completely free of opioid use.

Since Buprenorphine is an opioid, it carries the same risks as other opioid drugs. If consumed in large quantity or with other drugs like benzodiazepines (i.e., Xanax, Diazepam, etc.) or alcohol, these drugs can cause death. It also rarely causes an increase in liver enzymes so for patients with a history of liver disease such as hepatitis, baseline lab work may be required.

About the Author

Paula Nicola, M.D.
Dr. Nicola is the Facility Director at Renu. She is a trained and board certified medical doctor with specialized training in addiction medicine.