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How to Use a Suboxone Strip

How to Use a Suboxone Strip

Read more about the suboxone strip, what it is, how it works, and how it is administered in this article from Confidant Health.

What is a Suboxone Strip

Suboxone is a Class III (CIII) or Schedule III medication. It is categorized alongside  Vicodin and anabolic steroids. Suboxone is used in the treatment of opioid addiction. Suboxone consists of buprenorphine, what we call the opioid use disorder (OUD) remedy, and naloxone, what we call the opioid impeder. Naloxone is present in the medication to make it ineffective if the medication is used inappropriately, such as ingested intravenously or through the nasal cavity. Naloxone is an antagonist; buprenorphine is a partial agonist. 

Buprenorphine and naloxone-based medications are administered in the medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction. A Suboxone strip is the delivery method by which the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone enter the body. 

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How Suboxone Strips Work

The Suboxone strip is an orange, rectangular film that is placed on the underside of the tongue where it dissolves into the bloodstream and travels to the brain’s opioid receptors, the mu, the delta, and the kappa receptors. The sublingual delivery method controls the opioid properties in buprenorphine which is a partial opioid agonist (refer to Suboxone Ingredients: All You Need to Know to understand the difference between a full opioid agonist and a partial opioid agonist). If Suboxone is administered intravenously or through the nasal cavity the opioid properties in the buprenorphine rush the opioid receptors in the brain to establish a full opioid state that makes the patient feel high. This is because the bioavailability of the buprenorphine is much higher in this form. Consumption in this way poses a risk of overdose and death. It is imperative that the medication is applied sublingually as directed by a qualified medical practitioner and as outlined in the instructions provided with the medication. 

Top Tips for Using a Suboxone Strip

Our top tips for using a Suboxone strip are as follows; find the dosage that is right for you during an induction as directed by your provider, do not mix Suboxone with alcohol, sedatives, or opioids, and make sure you have begun the process of withdrawal before commencing Suboxone treatment.

The Suboxone strip will begin to dissolve immediately in your fingers if your hands are wet or damp. Ensure your hands are dry before unpackaging the medication.  The Suboxone strip should not be placed in the center of the tongue, it should be laid offside, under the tongue towards the left or right side. Depending on the dosage you have been prescribed you may need to apply two Suboxone strips at the same time.  If this is the case, avoid crossing or overlapping the strips, keep them away from each other in your mouth as much as you possibly can for maximum effect. Do not talk, eat, drink or chew while the Suboxone strip is dissolving. Keep all movement to a minimum. Important note: the strip should not be moved once placed in position.  

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Best way to take Suboxone strips

The most effective way to take a Suboxone film is to wait until the process of withdrawal has begun. Your provider will help ensure you understand this process before beginning.  If you’re in active addiction, you cannot get high from Suboxone if it is consumed as directed by a reputable health care practitioner, but it will relieve cravings. The sublingual delivery of buprenorphine in Suboxone strips instills a bioavailable threshold. If Suboxone is consumed intravenously the bioavailability of the opioid remedy, buprenorphine increases and reacts with the brain’s opioid receptors to create a full opioid-induced state. If the patient is not in withdrawal, the buprenorphine will react like an antagonist, similarly to the opioid impeder, naloxone, and mobilize with the opioids present in the bloodstream to create precipitated withdrawal and severe side effects that include overdose and death.  

How To Get A Suboxone Strip

Suboxone is a medication which can be prescribed by your healthcare provider. The medication can be purchased with a prescription from a licensed pharmacy. The cost of Suboxone depends on the pharmacy you visit, the dosage of the medication you require, and whether you have health insurance. Prices range from $50USD to $500USD based on these factors.

The dosage of Suboxone prescribed varies from patient to patient. Suboxone strips typically retail in 2mg, 4mg, 8mg, and 12 mg increments. You could be prescribed 6mg or 16mg of Suboxone by your health care provider. If that is the case you would use a  2mg strip and 4 mg strip to form a 6mg dose, two 8mg strips to form a 16 mg dose, and so on. Should you need to reduce your dosage, do not cut the film in half, speak with your health care provider to discuss decreasing your dose.  

The dosage of the medication is printed on the film. N2 refers to a 2mg dose, N4 refers to a 4mg dose, N8 refers to an 8mg dose and N12 refers to a 12mg dose. 

Suboxone strips can cause spotted vision, nausea, migraine, perspiration, numbness in the mouth, redness, irritation or inflammation in and around the mouth, drug withdrawal syndrome, constipation, spinal pain, drowsiness, dizziness, sedation, and other side effects. To learn more about the side effects associated with Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) strips, refer to When to Take Suboxone: A Complete Guide

Speak with a provider at Confidant today to get started with medication for addiction treatment and virtual recovery.

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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