Suboxone Addiction

Suboxone is a game-changing medicine that has made headlines for its ability to turn the clock back on addiction. Suboxone sales reached $1.55 billion in the United States in 2012, surpassing widely known drugs Viagra and Adderall. The success is heavily linked to the exploding opioid abuse epidemic that the United States has been facing. This drug has been embraced by federal officials. A drug that can be used as a substitute for the more deadly methadone was a game-changer, and the millions suffering from this addiction could finally seek relief.

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Suboxone, however, has a dark side that was not intended when it was introduced to the market. It was created and marketed as a safer way to treat opioid addiction. With 115 people in the United States dying daily from opioid overdoses, it was crucial to develop a drug with the capacity to save the millions that are being affected. But we started to see that Suboxone, like any other drugs, can be misused. Those who use the drug irresponsibly and not in the manner it purely intended for can develop an addiction to the drug.




What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a brand-name prescription medication used in opioid treatment addiction. It works by blocking withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings. Those who use Suboxone can take the drug as a sublingual strip or tablet that goes under the tongue. Administering the medication in this fashion creates a faster-acting process.

Suboxone is a combination of two medications—buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone is considered a “partial opioid agonist,” meaning that buprenorphine will produce a milder effect when acting on opioid receptors in the brain. Opioids with the greatest abuse potential are full agonists. These drugs include oxycodone, hydromorphone, morphine, methadone, and the illegal drug, heroin.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a report that buprenorphine can:

  • Lower the potential for misuse
  • Diminish the effects of physical dependence on opioids
  • Increase safety in case of overdoses

If you have ever heard of medical detox, Suboxone is one of the drugs that is used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to curb the worst effects of opioid withdrawal. This also will be used in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies to help people end their dependence on opioid medications.

There is another ingredient in Suboxone called naloxone, which you may have heard it referred to as Narcan, its brand name. As it does in its purest form, Naloxone does its part to block full agonist opioids from attaching to opioid receptors. The reason Naloxone was added into the mix was to discourage the misuse of Suboxone.

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What Are the Signs of Suboxone Addiction?

While Suboxone can be highly effective as a means to help a recovering user, it still is considered an opioid drug. Even with its design, it still carries a potential to be habit-forming because of the drug’s potency. With that, there is a likelihood of developing a physical dependence on Suboxone, and there is a potential for abuse. Ironically, those who don’t have an opioid use disorder (OUD) are more likely to abuse the drug. The top reasons people abuse the drug are to experience euphoria, reduce pain, or to calm down. Those who do have OUD problems use Suboxone as a means to manage their cravings.

If you or someone you love is suspected of abusing Suboxone, you may notice these actions:

  • Crushing tablets to snort the powder
  • Mixing crushed tablets with water to inject
  • Taking more than prescribed dosage at a time
  • Chewing the tablets and swallowing them

Outward signs of physical abuse related to Suboxone include:

  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Slurred speech
  • Watery eyes
  • Memory impairment issues

These are some of the more clear warning signs that come specifically from Suboxone use, but this does not mean it will affect everyone the same. General signs of addiction that can include:

  • Using medication despite the consequences
  • Running out of the medication early
  • Mixing Suboxone with other drugs/alcohol
  • Using it for other purposes than intended
  • Anxiety, depression, and irritability
  • Strained family and friends relationships
  • Spending all of your money on Suboxone
  • Lying about drug use

A telltale sign that someone is abusing this drug or has developed a tolerance for it is when physical and psychological changes begin to emerge after cessation of use. The withdrawals begin to occur as the brain and body try to adjust to smaller amounts of Suboxone than they’ve become accustomed to.

Long-term Suboxone users are advised to avoid quitting the drug abruptly. Ending drug use in a “cold turkey” manner often does more harm than good. It is more typical that someone who quit cold turkey to relapse than someone who recovers via medical detox. If you or someone you love is seeking the best possible outcome, you must attend an addiction treatment facility with a good reputation. These treatment facilities should offer substance abuse and addiction with evidence-based practices.

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How to Treat Suboxone Addiction

The first and most difficult step to a better life is entering into treatment for your Suboxone addiction. Addiction treatment must be customized to suit the individual’s unique requirements through a variety of therapies. Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it can be adjusted throughout the process as a person’s needs change.


In the majority of cases, individuals who enter treatment will start their journey in a medical detox. During a typical stay, the individual will remain there anywhere from three to seven days or longer, depending on the case. During this time, Suboxone and other drugs will be removed from the body during a medically supervised stay. There will be a tapering schedule put in place to ensure the process is gradual, and the recovering user is comfortable for the duration of the process.

During this time, you will meet with the medical team to create a treatment plan designed specifically for you. You will begin determining which method of treatment following detox will be best for your situation and what kind of therapies will be used. You will not be stuck in these plans as they are subject to change if the client is not responding as anticipated. After you wrap up your medical detox, you will then enter either an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.


If your medical staff determines you will be more suited to living on-site in a residential center during your recovery, you will enter the inpatient stage of the continuum of care. You will be here from anywhere between 30 days to 90 days, depending on the severity of addiction, and if you were diagnosed in detox with a mental health disorder. The longer one stays in treatment increases their likelihood of success.

During this time, you will share a healing space with like-minded individuals who are on the same road to recovery. You will attend therapy sessions that will teach you the roots of your addiction, and give you tools to that help you cope with cravings. In some cases, you will also learn life-skills such as cooking, how to balance a budget, and how to build a resume.


Outpatient treatment is recommended for those who can’t leave their lives for an extended time. If the medical team deems it appropriate, you can receive recovery services at an outpatient treatment center. This will be dependent on the stage of addiction you are in, and the severity of the addiction.

Outpatient treatment will allow you to attend therapies throughout the week but have the luxury of going home upon completion. These in-depth therapies have been found to be just as effective as inpatient treatment centers. You will be required to submit to mandatory drug screenings through this process. This treatment option is great for those with employment obligations or school.

Is Suboxone Use Dangerous?

Suboxone was created to make it difficult to overdose while using, but it still holds the potential of overdose. Overdose is more likely to happen when individuals use the drug in combination with other addictive drugs such as benzodiazepines or alcohol. Combining the two substances can become fatal causing one’s breathing rates to decrease causing respiratory distress. Coma and death are considerably outcomes as well when using these drugs together. You must seek immediate medical help if you or a loved one ingests Suboxone and experiences any of these side effects you must call 911 immediately. These include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Sluggish reflexes
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Intermittent loss of consciousness
  • Problems with vision

Recover from Suboxone Addiction Today

If you or someone you care about is suffering from a Suboxone addiction and is ready to take first steps toward recovery and a better, sober tomorrow, The Palm Beach Institute can help. We offer medical detox treatment with a seamless transition into ongoing care through to our post-treatment alumni program.

Call 855-960-5456 now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about which of our treatment programs is best for you or your loved one or contact us online for more information.