What Is Suboxone?


Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction, including addiction to heroin and narcotic painkillers. When taken as prescribed, it can be both safe and effective. Suboxone is not a cure for opioid addiction. It should be used as a component of another form of treatment, such as inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment programs that focus on the underlying causes of addiction and reduce the risk of relapse.

Suboxone can be taken as either a tablet or a film and is placed under the tongue to dissolve. It suppresses both cravings for opioids and withdrawal symptoms, which can help prevent relapse. A single dose blocks the euphoric effects of other opioids for at least 24 hours. When used as prescribed, Suboxone does not cause euphoria.

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is very effective at blocking the effects of opioid medication. However, it can trigger withdrawal symptoms in people who are taking an opioid, causing effects that range from agitation and irritability, to wild mood swings, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramping, and diarrhea. Patients who have been chronically addicted to full opioids like heroin can develop seizures and respiratory failure, which can prove fatal. Therefore, naxolone is combined with buprenorphine, a weak opioid medication. Since buprenorphine triggers the opioid receptors in the brain only partially, the “highs” are quite low in comparison to those created by strong opioids, and they are not as habit-forming. Thus, Suboxone’s combination of naloxone and buprenorphine provides a way for the patient to be weaned off their addiction gradually, minimizing withdrawal symptoms. This makes Suboxone both effective and safer than alternative medications like methadone.

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