What Is Suboxone Treatment?


Suboxone is an orange, hexagonal tablet. It is intended for treating opiod dependence, including heroin, methadone and prescription painkillers. Patients interested in taking Suboxone need to work closely with their doctor to develop a specific treatment plan that includes counseling. Suboxone has an unpleasant taste, however it cannot be swallowed; it must be dissolved in the mouth, under the tongue. Drinking some water beforehand can help Suboxone dissolve more quickly.


  • Buprenorphine, the primary active ingredient in Suboxone, works by attaching itself to the opiod receptors in the brain. Suboxone is a "partial opiod agonist." This means that Suboxone creates a mild feeling of euphoria and limits withdrawal symptoms. This reduces opiod cravings. How long the patient will need to take Suboxone varies by individual and the degree of opiod dependence. Needing to take Suboxone for several years is not uncommon.


  • The beginning of the treatment can be difficult. It is necessary for the patient to experience early symptoms of withdrawal before switching to Suboxone. This is because high levels of another opiod in the patient can interfere with Suboxone, making the patient go into a worse stage of withdrawal. When the patient is already beginning to feel withdrawal effects, Suboxone will make the patient feel better in about 20 minutes to an hour.

Safety Precautions

  • Another ingredient in Suboxone is naloxone. Naloxone thwarts possible abuse of Suboxone by preventing patients from injecting it. If a patient does try to inject Suboxone, the naloxone causes the patient to go into withdrawal swiftly.


  • Suboxone treatment requires counseling--the patient's doctor will not simply write a prescription and send the patient on her way. Patients who have severely abused opiods may initially require daily counseling. Otherwise, weekly or monthly counseling is more common. Counseling includes group or individual therapy, as well as fine-tuning the appropriate dosage of Suboxone for each patient.

Side Effects

  • Common side effects of Suboxone include withdrawal symptoms, headache, insomnia, pain, nausea and constipation. Suboxone can also cause the patient's blood pressure to drop. The patient should let his doctor know if he experiences dizziness upon standing. Some of these symptoms may occur because of the previous use of opiods, prior to taking Suboxone. Additionally, patients will experience withdrawal symptoms when they are ready to begin getting off of Suboxone. It is necessary to taper off Suboxone gradually to reduce these symptoms as much as possible.

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