Suboxone for Opioid Use Disorder

In this article, we answer common questions about Suboxone for opioid use disorder. Suboxone is a widely accepted treatment for addiction to opioids (e.g., morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl). Suboxone is currently available at Harbor Psychiatry & Mental Health.

What is Suboxone and what is it used for?

Suboxone is a combination medication. Specifically, it contains buprenorphine (Subutex) and naloxone (Narcan). And it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of opioid addiction (also known as opioid use disorder).

How is opioid use disorder diagnosed?

Opioid use disorder refers to the problematic use of opioids resulting in significant impairment or distress. It is diagnosed according to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). According to the DSM-5, two or more of the following must be present during a 12-month period:
Taking more opioids or for longer than intended; having strong cravings for the drug; being unable to control usage; spending a lot of time obtaining and consuming the drug (or recovering from its effects); the usage interfering with obligations or causing personal and social problems; using opioids in dangerous situations; continuing usage despite it causing health issues or forcing the individual to give up important activities; experiencing tolerance; and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when cutting down.

Does Suboxone work? How is it taken?

Yes, research suggests Suboxone is an effective treatment for opioid addiction.1 Suboxone is taken orally, often as a dissolvable strip placed under the tongue.2

What are the side effects of Suboxone?

Side effects may include headache, feeling lightheaded, vision changes, sweating, constipation, nausea/vomiting, withdrawal symptoms, back pain, mouth and tongue pain or numbness, irregular heartbeat, and sleep changes.2

How does Suboxone work?

The buprenorphine in Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist. It binds to the same receptors that full agonists (e.g., morphine, hydrocodone) do, but does not fully activate them. This means buprenorphine does not give you the same high that full agonists do. Therefore, it reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms.3
The naloxone in Suboxone is an opioid antagonist. It causes withdrawal symptoms only if injected. So, naloxone reduces buprenorphine abuse (e.g., crushing and injecting it).4

Is it easy to overdose on Suboxone?

No. Suboxone is a partial agonist, which means that beyond a certain point, taking more of the medication will not activate the opioid receptors. So, compared to full agonists like methadone or morphine, this medication is much less likely to be misused or cause an overdose.4

How do I get Suboxone?

You can call Harbor Psychiatry & Mental Health to make an appointment with one of our licensed professionals and discuss the next step in your recovery from opioid addiction. We look forward to getting to know you and serving your physical and mental health needs.