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Understanding Suboxone in Opioid Addiction Treatment

Buprenorphine-naloxone is an effective medication in the recovery journey from opioid use disorder

Buprenorphine-Naloxone, commonly known under the brand name Suboxone, is a highly effective medication for treating opioid use disorder (OUD) and is approved by the FDA. This combination medication is designed to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, thereby supporting recovery as part of a full treatment program that includes therapy.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it binds to opioid receptors in the brain but only partially activates them. This action helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing the full euphoric effects associated with other opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. It is included to prevent misuse of the medication. If Suboxone is injected or taken inappropriately, naloxone will block the effects of opioids and can precipitate withdrawal symptoms.

Together, these components work to help individuals manage their opioid dependence by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier to maintain sobriety.

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Buprenorphine-Naloxone to provide a comprehensive understanding of its use and benefits.

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What is Buprenorphine-Naloxone and How Does It Work?

Buprenorphine-Naloxone is a combination medication used to treat opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it activates opioid receptors in the brain but to a much lesser degree than full agonists like heroin or methadone. This helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, included to prevent misuse of the medication by injection. If the combination is injected, naloxone will block the effects of buprenorphine, discouraging misuse.

How Effective is Buprenorphine-Naloxone in Treating Opioid Use Disorder?

Studies have shown that Buprenorphine-Naloxone is highly effective in treating opioid use disorder. Patients who take the medication as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, which includes counseling and support services, have better outcomes. The medication helps individuals maintain sobriety by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which are significant barriers to recovery. Long-term use has been associated with improved social functioning and a decrease in illicit opioid use.

How is Buprenorphine-Naloxone Administered and What Should Patients Expect?

Buprenorphine-Naloxone is typically administered sublingually, meaning it is placed under the tongue to dissolve. It can also come in the form of a film or tablet. The initial dose is usually given under medical supervision to ensure proper usage and to monitor any adverse reactions. Patients may start on a higher dose that is gradually reduced over time. It’s important to take the medication exactly as prescribed to avoid potential withdrawal symptoms or ineffective treatment.

What Are the Common Side Effects and Risks Associated with Buprenorphine-Naloxone?

Common side effects of Buprenorphine-Naloxone include headaches, nausea, sweating, constipation, and sleep disturbances. Most side effects are mild and tend to diminish over time. However, there are some risks associated with its use, such as the potential for misuse, though this is reduced by the presence of naloxone. It’s also possible to develop physical dependence, so it’s crucial to follow a doctor’s guidance and not abruptly stop taking the medication without medical advice.

Who is a Candidate for Buprenorphine-Naloxone Treatment?

Candidates for Buprenorphine-Naloxone treatment include individuals diagnosed with opioid use disorder who are motivated to recover and are willing to adhere to a comprehensive treatment plan. It’s particularly beneficial for those who have not been able to maintain sobriety through other methods. However, it’s not suitable for everyone, such as those with severe liver impairment or certain psychiatric conditions. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider is necessary to determine if Buprenorphine-Naloxone is the appropriate treatment.


Buprenorphine-Naloxone represents a significant advancement in the treatment of opioid use disorder, providing a safe and effective option to support recovery. By understanding how it works, its effectiveness, administration, potential side effects, and candidacy criteria, patients and healthcare providers can better navigate the complexities of opioid addiction treatment.

Suboxone® is a registered trademark of Indivior PLC. Any reference to it is for informational purposes only, and is not endorsed or sponsored by Indivior PLC.