Suboxone Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment Resources
Suboxone is a combination of two drugs called buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone’s main purpose is to help people stop abusing opioids. However, what many people don’t know is that it is also possible to get addicted to Suboxone. But what is Suboxone addiction, and what are its risks?
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is an opioid antagonist. This means that it blocks opioids from binding to the brain and causing a euphoric effect. This also reduces the severe cravings and pain that often occur when a person is going through opioid withdrawal. Suboxone binds to these receptors instead but does not produce a high like opioids do. However, some people misuse this drug so that it does produce a high.
Side Effects of Suboxone
In 2014 alone, 1.9 million people in the United States had an opioid use disorder. Those with opioid use disorders are often prescribed Suboxone to help them deal with their withdrawal symptoms.
While Suboxone can be helpful when used properly, it can also cause some unpleasant side effects. Some of the most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, numb mouth, excessive sweating, and dizziness. Some people may faint and experience problems concentrating or remembering things.
Suboxone is a Schedule III drug, meaning it has medical use but also a significant potential for abuse. It is important to only take this drug as prescribed. Common names for this drug include Boxes, Oranges, Sobos, Stops, and Bupes.
How is Suboxone Taken?
Suboxone is available in the form of sublingual tablets and films. The drug goes under your tongue, where it will slowly dissolve through the thin lingual membranes and enter your blood. Only once it travels to your brain will it start working. When you misuse Suboxone by taking it in other ways, an addiction may be more likely to form.
Misusing the drug involves melting and injecting it, or snorting it.
Suboxone Quick Reference
|Commercial & Street Names||DEA Schedule||Administration|
|Suboxone||Buprenorphine, naloxone, Boxes, Oranges, Stops, Bupes||Schedule III||Sublingual tablets/films|
Statistics on Suboxone Use, Misuse, and Addiction
Buphrenorphine misuse has decreased between 2015 and 2019, but that doesn’t mean that Suboxone addiction has disappeared altogether. Many people with severe substance use disorders still get addicted to this substance, even though its main purpose is to help people overcome their addiction problems.
There is not much Suboxone addiction potential when you take the drug as prescribed. It is more likely when people misuse it. This is one of the reasons why Suboxone treatment centers are great for helping people avoid drug misuse.
Effects of Suboxone Abuse
Those who are abusing Suboxone may become apathetic and sluggish. They may experience nausea, vomiting, constipation, stomach pain, and slowed thinking. During the first few moments of Suboxone abuse, a euphoric feeling will occur, followed by an unpleasant crash. This crash may cause people to abuse more Suboxone so they can continue feeling good.
Can You Overdose on Suboxone?
It is possible to overdose on this drug if you misuse it. An overdose is also more likely if you mix this substance with other drugs, like opioids or alcohol. But taking the drug as prescribed has little to no risk of overdose.
Signs and Symptoms of Suboxone Overdose
Common signs of Suboxone overdose include shallow breathing, a slow heart rate, clammy skin, and abdominal pain. Some may experience nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and even coma, seizures, or death.
What to do if you suspect someone is overdosing on Suboxone?
Overdosing on Suboxone can be fatal, which is why you need to act fast to make sure that the person gets the medical treatment they need. Call 911 and stay with the person until the paramedics arrive. If they aren’t breathing, try to stimulate their heart by performing CPR.
Dangers of Long-Term Suboxone Use
The longer a person uses this drug, the more likely they will be to develop a dependence on it. This could eventually turn into an addiction. After taking Suboxone for more than six months, you may notice an increased sensitivity to pain as well as feelings of depression or anxiety. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fatigue, and difficulty maintaining relationships with people.
Mixing Suboxone with Other Drugs
It is not a good idea to mix Suboxone with other drugs, especially illicit drugs. Mixing it with alcohol could also cause problems. Abusing other drugs in addition to Suboxone could lead to seizures, coma, and death.
Suboxone Addiction and Abuse
Out of everyone who takes buprenorphine for opioid addiction management, the vast majority (more than 340,000) use Suboxone in contrast to any other form of the drug. Some people may find themselves unintentionally dependent and addicted to this drug after taking it for many months. Others may find a more direct path toward addiction by intentionally misusing the drug to experience its euphoric effects. This is despite the fact that Suboxone’s euphoria is very faint compared to opioids.
Signs of Addiction to Suboxone
Those who are addicted to Suboxone may have a runny nose, watery eyes, clammy skin, and mood changes. They may be more irritable or secretive. They may try to get Suboxone prescriptions from several different doctors so they don’t run out. They may have drug paraphernalia around their home, such as syringes or crushed tablets.
Suboxone Addiction and Mental Health
When using Suboxone for many months, it can cause anxiety and depression. Some people may feel panicked or paranoid for no good reason. Others may become more irritable and even aggressive, especially if they haven’t had any Suboxone for some time.
Cutting Agents Used for Suboxone
Suboxone may sometimes be cut with narcotic drugs like opioids or heroin. It is also possible for this drug to be cut with cocaine, meth, and other hard drugs.
Suboxone Addiction Treatment
- The length of Suboxone addiction treatment will depend on the severity of your addiction, but most people stay more than 90 days
- Detox and therapy are the main components of treatment
- The cost will vary depending on your program, but it will most likely be around a thousand dollars or more
- The most effective treatment options include outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment along with detox and partial hospitalization programs
Therapies Used in Suboxone Addiction Treatment
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Holistic therapy
- Group therapy
- Art therapy
Suboxone Withdrawal Management Treatment
The first week of withdrawal will be the hardest. The next couple of weeks will become easier until the drug is out of your system. You can then focus more on therapy and other treatments to get back on your feet.
Drugs Used in Suboxone Withdrawal Management
Clonidine is one of the first medications that doctors might use to ease a person’s withdrawal symptoms. OTC medications like Tylenol or Advil are also useful for easing body pains and headaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Suboxone is only given to those who have a problem with narcotics. Most commonly, it is a treatment for those suffering from opioid painkiller addictions. Suboxone targets the same receptors in the brain as opioids, but they don’t cause the same euphoric feeling when they are used as prescribed. This also helps reduce drug cravings and can make opioid withdrawal an easier ordeal.
Suboxone doesn’t have an extremely high potential for abuse because it doesn’t provide feelings of euphoria like narcotics. When you take the drug as prescribed, it is very unlikely to ever become addicted to it.
But if you take it for a long time or misuse it, you may become dependent or addicted. This can make it difficult to live a normal life without worrying about when you can take more Suboxone.
Detoxing from any drug is always a painful process. Most people will experience body pain, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and irritability. More serious withdrawal symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, and seizures, but these are rare.
Most people don’t take Suboxone for more than six months. Taking it for longer than this period can increase your risk of developing dependence or addiction.
Are your or a loved one struggling with Suboxone use?
 Velander J. R. (2018). Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions. The Ochsner journal, 18(1), 23–29. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855417/ on May 22, 2023.
 NIDA. 2021, October 15. Buprenorphine misuse decreased among U.S. adults with opioid use disorder from 2015-2019. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/10/buprenorphine-misuse-decreased-among-us-adults-with-opioid-use-disorder-from-2015-2019 on 2023, May 22.
 Ling W. (2012). Buprenorphine implant for opioid addiction. Pain management, 2(4), 345–350. https://doi.org/10.2217/pmt.12.26. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4283787/ on May 22, 2023.