Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with Suboxone can help reduce cravings for other opioids. However, you may worry that accessing Suboxone is simply replacing one addictive drug with another. Is Suboxone addictive, and does it present the same side effects as other opioid drugs? Learning about what Suboxone is and how it works can help you decide whether this treatment may benefit you.
One of the most challenging parts of overcoming opioid use disorder (OUD) is dealing with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Confidant Health's online Suboxone clinic removes that barrier by increasing your comfort with the help of Suboxone. Find out how Suboxone MAT can help you enjoy a life free from opioids by scheduling an online assessment with our team today.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a prescription medication used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). It is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone is classified as a Schedule III drug, meaning the risk of physical or psychological dependence is low to moderate. Other drugs that fall into this category are anabolic steroids, ketamine, and Tylenol with codeine. Although the risk of addiction is lower than Schedule I or II drugs, you can still develop a dependence on Schedule III drugs like Suboxone. You should only access them under the supervision of a qualified provider.
What Is Suboxone Used For?
Suboxone is used to support people trying to overcome opioid use disorder. The medication helps minimize cravings and withdrawal symptoms to reduce the risk of relapse. You can access buprenorphine alone as a treatment for OUD, but there are advantages to opting for Suboxone instead. The primary benefit is the reduced risk for misuse due to the addition of naloxone to buprenorphine.
How Does Suboxone Work?
What makes Suboxone unique as an OUD treatment is how buprenorphine and naloxone work together. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist designed to produce mild euphoria, similar to other opioids, although not as intense. This helps take the edge off withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, serves to prevent misuse by blocking the effects of opioids and reducing the reinforcement that typically comes from an opioid high.
Side Effects of Suboxone
Although Suboxone can be integral to your recovery from OUD, it is not without side effects.
Mild Side Effects
Most people undergoing Suboxone treatment experience little to no side effects, which are typically mild. Some of the most common mild side effects of Suboxone include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Itching or irritation at the injection site if receiving injectable Suboxone
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness, tingling, redness, or pain in the mouth if taking sublingual Suboxone
These side effects are typically not harmful, but you can consult your provider for guidance if they become too bothersome. They may need to adjust your dosage, switch you to a different form of Suboxone, or change your medication.
Severe Side Effects
Some people may experience more disruptive side effects when accessing Suboxone treatment. Although these are less common, some severe side effects of Suboxone treatment for OUD are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drowsiness or dizziness
- Loss of consciousness
- Rapid heartbeat
If you or someone else is experiencing any of the above severe Suboxone side effects, you should seek emergency treatment.
Long-Term Side Effects
If you receive Suboxone treatment over a long period, you may be more prone to long-term side effects such as:
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has found that sublingual Suboxone and buprenorphine medications can lead to dental issues requiring root canals, tooth extractions, or implants. Most of these dental problems were reported about two years after beginning Suboxone treatment.
Dependence and Addiction
Long-term use of Suboxone can be fairly safe but only when used as prescribed by your provider. Misusing Suboxone increases your risk of dependence and addiction.