Suboxone Effects and Uses

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Suboxone is a medication that combines naloxone and buprenorphine in a single tablet, with Suboxone effects ranging from mild to severe. Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication that can reverse opioid overdose, while buprenorphine is effective in treating opioid addiction by activating mu-opioid receptors without delivering the side effects or rewarding effects associated with opioid use.

Used as part of medication-assisted treatment, Suboxone can help alleviate the intensity of cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms, making it a useful tool in addiction recovery. Unlike buprenorphine in isolation, this medication has less potential for abuse, and attempting to inject it will instead trigger immediate and acute opioid withdrawal symptoms.

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Suboxone gained FDA approval in 2002 and is considered an essential medication by WHO (World Health Organization) for a fully functional health system. At California Detox, we provide medication-assisted treatment using Suboxone as part of our comprehensive approach to addiction recovery.

This guide addresses the following issues:

  • What are the effects of Suboxone?
  • What are the side effects of Suboxone?
  • What are the dangers of Suboxone?
  • What are the side effects of long-term Suboxone use?

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication that falls under Schedule III of the CSA (Controlled Substances Act), meaning that it has some medical benefits but also has the potential for abuse and dependence. The medication is available as a branded oral strip that contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is also available in generic tablet or oral film forms. Suboxone must be administered by a certified medical professional.

Suboxone is commonly used for the substitution treatment of opioid use disorder and is prescribed to replace opioids of abuse. Suboxone use is designed to alleviate the intensity of cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms as part of a comprehensive medication-assisted treatment plan. The oral strips come in various strengths of buprenorphine and naloxone, ranging from 2mg buprenorphine / 0.5mg naloxone to 12 mg buprenorphine / 3mg naloxone.

Research has shown that Suboxone can be effective in reducing opioid abuse and improving retention in addiction treatment. Suboxone should only be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, including counseling and behavioral therapies. The medication is not a cure for addiction, but it may help manage the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the risk of relapse.

What is Suboxone Used For?

Although Suboxone is primarily indicated for the substitution treatment of opioid use disorder, it can also be used off-label to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, when used off-label, Suboxone should only be administered as part of a licensed medical detox program at an accredited facility to ensure the patient’s safety and effectiveness of the treatment.

ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine) recommends Suboxone as an MAT (medication-assisted treatment) option for the treatment of opioid dependence. In MAT, Suboxone is used in combination with behavioral therapy to improve the chances of a successful recovery from opioid addiction.

Medical detox programs typically take place in drug rehab centers, where the treatment team can administer medications like Suboxone to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and make the detoxification process more comfortable for the patient. If Suboxone is used to treat opioid dependence, much of the therapy can take place in an outpatient setting. That said, you will need to attend regular appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor their progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed.

How Does Suboxone Affect Your Body?

Suboxone affects the body in several ways due to its composition of two primary active ingredients – naloxone and buprenorphine. Buprenorphine, being a partial opioid agonist, binds to the same brain receptors as opioids. Unlike opioids, Suboxone only partially activates these receptors, at the same time minimizing cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone, by contrast, is an opioid antagonist that disrupts the effects of opioids and can reverse an opioid overdose.

When taken as prescribed, Suboxone has a slower onset and a longer duration of action than other opioids, reducing the risk of misuse and abuse. The medication is designed to help people manage their opioid dependence while reducing the risk of experiencing negative side effects associated with other opioids.

Like all drugs, though, there are side effects from Suboxone. What are the negative side effects of Suboxone, then? The most common include constipation, nausea, and headaches, but these typically go away as the body adjusts to the medication. It is essential to work with a healthcare provider to monitor the effects of Suboxone on the body and adjust the dosage accordingly.

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Side Effects of Taking Suboxone

What are the most common side effects of Suboxone?

 The use of Suboxone can lead to various adverse buprenorphine/naloxone side effects. Suboxone side effects range from mild to severe. It is essential to be aware of these effects, particularly if you are taking Suboxone for the first time.

The most common side effects of taking Suboxone include:

  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • And anxiety

These symptoms usually subside after a few days or weeks. If they worsen or persist, consult your healthcare provider.

In some instances, people may experience more severe reactions after taking Suboxone. If you experience breathing problems, lowered cortisol levels, liver damage, chronic allergic reactions, or dependence, seek medical assistance immediately. 

Taking Suboxone in high doses can lead to breathing problems that may cause a potentially fatal coma. This risk is particularly high if Suboxone is used in combination with other drugs. If you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), the risk of developing breathing problems while taking Suboxone is higher.

Suboxone may also trigger adrenal insufficiency, a condition characterized by lowered levels of the cortisol hormone, and mild or severe liver damage. In rare cases, Suboxone can spark an allergic reaction like anaphylaxis that requires emergency medical attention.

Additionally, long-term use of Suboxone can lead to the development of physical and psychological dependence. The risk of dependence is especially high if you take Suboxone while using opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol. This means that it is essential to take Suboxone only as prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider.

Short-Term Effects of Suboxone

Suboxone is primarily prescribed as a long-term maintenance medication for opioid dependence. That said, it can also produce short-term effects that can impact functioning.

The short-term effects of Suboxone can include drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience nausea, vomiting, and constipation. These side effects can make it difficult to perform routine tasks, such as driving or working.

In some cases, the Suboxone effect includes a euphoric high. While this effect is less intense than other opioids, it can still be a cause for concern. Using Suboxone for its euphoric effects can lead to addiction and dependence, especially when combined with other substances.

The short-term effects of Suboxone are not the same as the long-term benefits. The medication’s long-term use can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery and rebuild their lives.

If you experience any short-term effects of Suboxone, consult with your healthcare provider. They may need to adjust your dosage or switch to a different medication to help manage your symptoms.

Long Term Effects of Suboxone

Like any medication, Suboxone can have potential long-term effects. Some of the known long-term effects of Suboxone use include: 

  • Physical dependence: Suboxone may trigger the development of physical dependence, which means that if you stop taking the medication suddenly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Cognitive impairment: Some people may experience cognitive impairment, including difficulty with attention, memory, and decision-making.
  • Respiratory depression: Suboxone can cause respiratory depression, which means that it can slow down breathing. This can be dangerous, especially if taken in large amounts or with other CNS depressant drugs like alcohol or opioids that also cause respiratory depression.
  • Liver damage: In rare cases, Suboxone can cause liver damage, especially in people who have pre-existing liver problems.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Suboxone can affect the production of hormones in the body, which can lead to issues such as low testosterone levels in men and irregular menstrual cycles in women.

Not everyone who takes Suboxone will experience these long-term effects, and many people are able to take the medication safely and effectively under the guidance of a healthcare provider. If you have concerns about the long-term effects of Suboxone, it’s imperative to discuss them with your prescribing physician.

What To Consider Before Taking Suboxone

Before taking Suboxone, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Opioid addiction: Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction (opioid use disorder). The medication is not recommended for use in those who do not have opioid addiction.
  • Medical history: You should inform your prescribing physician about any medical conditions you have, including liver or kidney problems, respiratory problems, as well as any history of mental health disorders.
  • Medications: You should inform your doctor about all medications you are taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements. Suboxone can interact with certain medications, including sedatives, tranquilizers, and antidepressants.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Suboxone can be harmful to a developing fetus or nursing infant. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking Suboxone.
  • Side effects: Suboxone can cause a range of side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, constipation, headache, and sweating. You should discuss potential side effects with your doctor and report any concerning symptoms.
  • Safety and driving: Suboxone can cause drowsiness and impair driving ability. You should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how the medication affects you.
  • Misuse: Suboxone may be misused or abused. Always follow your doctor’s instructions and do not take more than prescribed or share your medication with others.

By working with your doctor, you can establish whether Suboxone is the right treatment option for you and carefully monitor your response to the medication.


Can Suboxone make you sick?

Yes, Suboxone can make you sick. The medication can trigger various adverse side effects, ranging from mild to severe. The most common side effects include nausea, headaches, body aches, constipation, sweating, and fatigue, among others.

What are the negative side effects of Suboxone?

Some of the common side effects of Suboxone include back pain, headaches, nausea, constipation, sweating, and anxiety. More serious side effects include breathing problems, lowered cortisol levels, liver damage, chronic allergic reactions, and the risk of abuse and dependence. It’s important to discuss any concerns about side effects with a medical professional.

How long do the effects of Suboxone last?

Suboxone has a half-life of 24-60 hours, meaning that the effects of the medication can last for up to three days. However, individual factors like metabolism, dosage, and frequency of use can also affect the duration of the medication’s effects.

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Get Help with Drug and Alcohol Addiction at California Detox

At California Detox in Laguna Beach, we understand the struggles of physical dependence and addiction to alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications like Suboxone. That’s why we offer a range of treatment programs to suit your individual needs.

Our supervised medical detox program provides a safe and comfortable pathway to inpatient or outpatient rehab, with access to medications that ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This allows you to transition into one of our tailored treatment programs, which includes inpatient, outpatient, virtual, and dual diagnosis options.

At California Detox, we take a whole-body approach to addiction recovery by combining evidence-based interventions and holistic therapies. Our treatment programs feature individual and group counseling, psychotherapy, family therapy, and medication-assisted treatment, among others.

Once you complete your treatment program, we provide you with a comprehensive aftercare plan that includes relapse prevention techniques to increase your chances of sustained recovery. Don’t wait to take the first step towards a brighter future. Call admissions at 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance.


Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid dependence by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.
Suboxone itself is not considered addictive when used as directed under medical supervision. However, it can be abused like other opioids and may lead to dependence if misused or taken in high doses without a prescription.


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