Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction, including for addiction to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, opioid medications such as codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and illicit opioids such as heroin. Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone, and is highly effective in treating addiction. Suboxone blocks opiate stimulation for approximately 24 hours. Nevertheless, the duration for which the drug is effective differs in each patient and is related to the prescribed dosage of each individual patient.
See Suboxone Dosage Guide for more information on Suboxone doses.
Dosing is based on how the patient feels as they are inducted on and maintain their course of Suboxone treatment. There are some complexities to finding the right dose. Confidant staff will work with you to ascertain the right dose for you.
How to use Suboxone to get off opiates
Buprenorphine was used in pain management before it was used in the treatment of opioid addiction. See Can suboxone be used for pain? for more on this. Sublingual buprenorphine was approved for use by qualified practitioners in a sanctioned medical setting in 2002. While it does have some opioid effects, it is a partial opioid agonist, which means it reduces cravings. It also blocks other opioids from having an effect, though it should not be used in conjunction with other opioids. Its partial opioid formulation creates a ‘ceiling effect’ while its attraction to the mu receptor creates a long-acting effect with an elimination half-life of approximately 36 hours. This is enough medication to activate opiate stimulation for one day in most patients.
Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, is one of three FDA-approved drugs in the medication assisted treatment (MAT) of addiction; methadone and naltrexone are the others. Methadone is only available in special treatment programs that usually require daily visits, but buprenorphine and naltrexone are available through pharmacies and digital health services like Confidant.
Buprenorphine’s pharmacological properties are unlike any other opioid. Generally, the dosage tends to stay the same or decrease over time as opposed to the formation of escalated tolerance seen with the ingestion of heroin and other full opioid agonists.
When you ingest Suboxone, the buprenorphine in the drug attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors. Suboxone does not activate the receptors as powerfully as heroin or methadone. No matter how much Suboxone you ingest, it can only provide a certain amount of opioid stimulation, but it is enough to keep the patient out of withdrawal.
The use of the medication combined with psychosocial treatments is the most effective treatment modality. Recovery from drug addiction is not just about eliminating the drug. It is about repairing and rebuilding all aspects of life. When drug ingestion is stabilized, there are a lot of other things to tend to, such as mending relationships, seeking gainful employment, organizing finances, sourcing accommodation, attending counseling sessions, and more. The long-lasting effect and ‘ceiling effect’ the drug possesses allow the patient to function better and focus on other aspects of their recovery. It is for this reason that Suboxone is frequently prescribed in the medically assisted treatment of addiction.