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  • Suboxone likely blocks the effects of opiates for about 3 days, but it can stay in your body for much longer.

    How Suboxone Works

    Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist. Its main ingredients are buprenorphine and naloxone. It binds to the same opioid receptors as many potent opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. 

    Buprenorphine, the main opioid agonist in Suboxone, reaches the maximum concentration in the body about 90 minutes after it is taken. In patients taking Suboxone, they should expect to feel the strongest effects of the drug during this time.

    Buprenorphine has a long half-life of about 30 hours, though times can vary widely. Half-life is the time it takes for the drug to go down to half of its maximum concentration. With its long half-life, buprenorphine can stay in the body for about 9 days.

    Suboxone & Addiction Treatment

    Suboxone prevents the effects of opioids by blocking the receptors they bind to in the brain. Many treatment programs prescribe a daily dose of Suboxone to ensure it works on the body for most of the day.

    Suboxone treatment can be effective for fighting several forms of opioid use disorder, including opioid addiction and physical dependence. 

    Treatment programs may use Suboxone to reduce cravings and manage opiate withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone is one form of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which can help you come off habit-forming drugs safely while attending therapy and counseling sessions.

    Is Suboxone Dangerous?

    If you’re considering MAT, you may be concerned that Suboxone can be as dangerous as the opioids that lead to addiction and dependence.

    However, Suboxone has a much lower abuse potential than many of these opioids. As a partial opioid agonist, there is a limit to how much it can affect opioid receptors compared to full opioid agonists like fentanyl and heroin. This limit is also known as a ceiling effect.

    No drug is completely risk-free. Suboxone can still be a target for substance abuse, and may cause a number of side effects. The medical professional in charge of your treatment plan should be monitoring your dosing to avoid Suboxone abuse.

    Suboxone Overdose Risk

    It is possible to overdose on buprenorphine, but it would require a very high dose of Suboxone. Generally, your risk of overdose on Suboxone is lower than other opioids.

    Suboxone overdose signs are similar to signs of opioid overdose, and may include:

    • respiratory depression (slowed breathing)
    • pinpoint pupils
    • sedation

    Treatment Options For Opioid Use Disorder

    Suboxone is one of many treatments for opioid use disorder. Other opioid agonists, such as methadone, can also be effective options in MAT programs.

    Your doctor may recommend MAT along with an opioid detox, where the drug is naturally flushed out of your system. During a detox, your withdrawal symptoms will be managed by a healthcare professional, ideally in a dedicated treatment facility.

    Other addiction treatment programs may involve group counseling, intensive therapy, or inpatient recovery programs. Knowing your options will help you pick the best path to recovery for yourself or your loved ones. 

    To learn more about potential treatment options, contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on March 15, 2021
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