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Suboxone Abuse & Addiction | Myths, Withdrawal, & Treatment Options

Published on October 8, 2020
suboxone pills blister packs

Suboxone is a prescription medication used as part of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. 

While this FDA-approved medication is generally considered safe for addressing opioid dependence, it can lead to addiction if it’s taken more than needed or in larger amounts. 

Rehab programs can help you recover from a Suboxone addiction so you can improve your mental health and lead a healthier life.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is the brand name of a medication that’s used for treating opioid use disorder. This medication contains both naloxone and buprenorphine, which is a type of opioid or narcotic medication.

Other things you should know about Suboxone include:

  • Naloxone is used in order to block pain relief and other physical and psychological effects of opioids.
  • Buprenorphine is used to deliver much milder opioid effects, which helps you gradually adjust to having less in your system.
  • The combination of naloxone and buprenorphine helps reduce the risk of having a relapse, experiencing intense cravings, and having severe withdrawal effects.
  • The risk of having a Suboxone addiction is lower than the risk with other opioids, such as oxycodone or codeine, but it can still occur if this medication is abused.

Myths About Suboxone Use

Suboxone can be safely and successfully used for treating opioid addiction. However, it’s important to use it only as directed. 

Consider some myths about Suboxone use:

  • Myth: It’s easy to overdose on Suboxone. 
  • Fact: Although this medication is an opiate, it is actually harder to overdose on it.
  • Myth: It should only be used for a short time. 
  • Fact: The length of time you can safely take Suboxone varies, but you’ll need to stop taking it sooner if you have an addiction.
  • Myth: It’s commonly abused.
  • Fact: Suboxone doesn’t produce effects that are as strong as other opioids, so it’s less likely to be addictive.

Learn more about Suboxone Side Effects

Signs Of Suboxone Addiction

Although developing an addiction to Suboxone is generally low, it’s still possible. The signs of a Suboxone addiction are typically similar to the signs of an addiction to other opioids, including prescription opioids for pain relief and heroin. 

Signs and symptoms of addiction can include any of the following:

  • resorting to stealing Suboxone prescriptions from others
  • pretending to lose Suboxone prescriptions in order to get more of this medication
  • taking Suboxone in larger or more frequent doses
  • mixing Suboxone with other types of drugs
  • drowsiness
  • becoming emotionally or physically numb
  • experiencing cognitive problems
  • being secretive about Suboxone use

Signs Of Suboxone Overdose

When taken as directed, Suboxone shouldn’t cause an overdose. However, improper use of this medication, such as taking too much at one time, can result in an accidental overdose. 

It’s important to get medical care immediately if you suspect a Suboxone overdose, since this can become a potentially life-threatening situation. 

Some of the symptoms of opioid overdose include:

  • blurry vision
  • stomach pain
  • confusion and fatigue
  • unconsciousness
  • sweating excessively
  • chills, anxiety, and lightheadedness
  • coordination problems
  • slurred speech
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pupils that are constricted

When a Suboxone overdose becomes severe, it can lead to respiratory depression. This condition can result in a coma or brain damage and become fatal.

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox

When you stop taking Suboxone, you can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms. These occur as your body tries to get used to being without this substance.

During the withdrawal process, which can last for a month in some cases, you might experience any of the following symptoms:

  • headache, nausea, or vomiting
  • irritability
  • chills and fever
  • trouble concentrating
  • digestive problems
  • depression or anxiety
  • sore muscles
  • decreased energy or lethargy; irritability
  • cravings
  • insomnia

The symptoms you have during Suboxone withdrawal can range from mild to severe. How long you have these symptoms depends on how long you’ve been taking Suboxone and how much of it you’ve been using.

Keep in mind that a detox program can help you get through Suboxone withdrawal safely. These programs give you support from addiction specialists and medical professionals in a safe and comfortable environment. 

Learn more about Suboxone Withdrawal

Suboxone Addiction Treatment Options

If you’re suffering from a Suboxone addiction, you’re most likely familiar with opioid treatment programs. You can get the help you need for overcoming Suboxone abuse and addiction with professional treatment. 

These rehab programs provide you with practical help and emotional support while you recover. 

Some of the options you might have available for treating a Suboxone addiction include:

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is commonly used for different types of addiction. This form of therapy, which is included as part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, involves learning to recognize thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to substance abuse. 

Through behavioral therapy, you’ll learn to identify and replace these thoughts and behaviors with healthier ones.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient or residential addiction treatment involves living in a safe facility and receiving around-the-clock care. You might stay in a rehab facility for weeks or months at a time while you go through a treatment plan to help you recover.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Since Suboxone contains an opioid, medication-assisted treatment might provide an effective way to overcome this type of addiction. 

When you’re in a MAT program, you’ll most likely be given a different medication to help you recover from Suboxone addiction. You’ll also attend behavioral therapy sessions.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a Suboxone addiction, please contact Ark Behavioral Health for more information on treatment and recovery.

Suboxone FAQ

How Do Suboxone Strips Work?

You place Suboxone strips under your tongue, where they’ll dissolve and be absorbed into your body. 

Once Suboxone enters your body, the buprenorphine in the medication can ease opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Meanwhile, the naloxone can block the effects of opioids. Both of these processes can help you recover from opioid addiction more quickly and comfortably.

Learn more about Suboxone Strips

Can Suboxone Get You High? 

Yes. Since Suboxone contains a partial opioid agonist (buprenorphine), it can produce a euphoric or “high” feeling by activating opioid receptors in the brain. 

However, most people will only experience a high if they abuse the drug (take it in a manner not prescribed by a doctor). In addition, the high will generally be less intense than highs from full opioid agonists like heroin and morphine.

Read Can Suboxone Get You High to learn more

How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System?

Suboxone can stay in your system for at least 8 days, depending on how long you have taken it. However, your body breaks down the drug into metabolites that can be detected in your urine for up to two weeks after your last dose.

Read How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System to learn more

How Is Suboxone Abused?

Although Suboxone is used in the treatment of opioid dependence, it can also be abused through snorting, smoking, and injecting the drug. 

Abusing Suboxone is dangerous because it’s designed to induce withdrawal if you do not take it sublingually. Along with withdrawal, abusing Suboxone can cause many serious adverse reactions such as infections, respiratory depression, and addiction. 

Learn more about the Dangers Of Suboxone Abuse

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

FDA - Suboxone
Harvard Health Publishing - 5 Myths About Using Suboxone to Treat Opiate Addiction
Medical News Today - Suboxone
MedlinePlus - Suboxone
National Alliance on Mental Health - Mental Health Medications
Suboxone - Overview

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