Suboxone is a compound of buprenorphine and naloxone designated for the maintenance treatment of opioid addiction. It is a sublingual medication prescribed in the medically assisted treatment (MAT) of opioid use disorder (OUD).
Suboxone is a controlled Class III/Schedule III substance. This classification authorizes the use of the drug in a medical context; however, the presence of buprenorphine in the drug, which is a partial opioid agonist, poses certain risks including dependence and addiction. The effect of a partial opioid agonist at the brain’s receptor site is subdued in comparison to a full opioid agonist such as heroin or fentanyl. See Suboxone Ingredients: All You Need to Know to understand more about the difference between a partial opioid agonist and a full opioid agonist.
The medication retails in the form of a soluble film that is absorbed sublingually, meaning through the veins under the tongue. The properties of both naloxone and buprenorphine are regulated and controlled when ingested sublingually. However, if inhaled in any capacity or administered intravenously, both chemicals react at a much higher efficacy. If the buprenorphine is snorted or injected, it will surge the brain’s receptor site and initiate a full state of intoxication. This is why naloxone is present in Suboxone. The naloxone will trump the buprenorphine and block the partial opioid agonist from reaching the receptor site. When ingested sublingually as directed, the naloxone dissolves with zero effect. Naloxone should not be ingested by pregnant women or patients with a documented allergy to the chemical. In these instances, buprenorphine mono products such as Subutex could be prescribed or alternate medications like methadone or naltrexone.
Suboxone is formulated at a ratio of 4:1, 4 units of buprenorphine to 1 unit of naloxone. When administered sublingually, the drug becomes fully concentrated approximately 90 minutes after it has been ingested. This is, of course, dependent on the physiology of each individual patient and other variables such as variants in bioavailability. 2.5 to 3 hours following its absorption into the bloodstream, the drug reaches its half-life.
Suboxone Dosage Chart