Josh Chandler | April 27, 2023

Side Effects of Suboxone


Suppose you’ve been thinking about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help treat a substance use disorder for yourself or someone you love. In that case, you’ve come to the right place to learn about Suboxone and its associated side effects. Keep reading to learn what Suboxone is and how it works, and if the side effects are something you can live with if you experience them.

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Is It Worth The Side Effects?

If you’ve been weighing whether to take Suboxone or not due to side effects, it’s essential to understand what Suboxone is. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a long-acting opioid prescribed to treat opioid use disorder and lasts much longer in the body than heroin or other short-acting opioids. This means that someone taking Buprenorphine only needs to take it once per day, while someone using heroin or oxycontin may need to take it 5 to 6 times per day to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Buprenorphine also doesn’t provide the high that other opioids do.

 Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is used to reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose and reduce the effects of opioids. Buprenorphine is combined with naloxone to prevent intravenous misuse, as injecting naloxone will cause severe withdrawal symptoms. It reduces the risk of death by overdose by 50% and is far more effective at preventing relapse than abstinence alone. Simply put, taking Suboxone eliminates painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms and allows someone living with an addiction to opioids to lead a normal life and fulfill their family and work obligations.

Now that you know what Suboxone is, you may be worried about the side effects some people experience. As with any FDA-approved medication prescribed by a doctor, some side effects may be unpleasant. One must ask themselves what is worse, the disease they are fighting, or the side effects of the medication that will help them get their condition under control. No one would ever say that drugs like chemotherapy are pleasant to take, but the alternative is death. Suboxone may have side effects but is also a life-saving medication like chemotherapy. Side effects are a game of balance; you accept the uncomfortable and unpleasant to manage the even more unpleasant disease. 

17 Side Effects of Suboxone

suboxone side effects

If you have been taking opioids for some time, you may be familiar with the milder side effects this drug causes, such as:

  • Constipation. Chronic constipation can be a real downer, but there are things that you can do to improve the frequency and ease of your bowel movements. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re dealing with constipation.
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia

There are some severe but less common side effects of Suboxone that you should seek immediate medical treatment if you experience them, like:

  • Sleep apnea (breathing interruptions when sleeping).
  • Mood changes like extreme agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • Tooth and gum pain
  • Tiredness and weight loss (signs that your adrenal glands aren’t functioning correctly)
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Most people who take Suboxone won’t experience the less common side effects, but checking in regularly with your doctor when taking this medication is essential.  

How Is Suboxone Used in Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Suboxone is generally prescribed one or two days after opioid use stops. It works by managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, due to the buprenorphine acting on the opioid receptors in the brain. An approved doctor can prescribe Suboxone in any clinical setting, while a drug like methadone must be administered via a methadone clinic. For some people, reporting to a clinic every day to access medication doesn’t work for them. Your doctor and care team will work with you to determine which MAT will work best with your needs. Suboxone is safe to take for extended periods. When used with evidence-based therapies, it drastically improves the outcome for those with a substance use disorder. Someone might stay on MAT indefinitely, if it means the difference between relapse and recovery. It is much safer to take a medication like Suboxone than heroin or oxycontin accessed by illicit means.

Does Health Insurance cover Suboxone Treatment?

The short answer to this question is yes. Medication-assisted treatment is the standard of care for opioid use disorders, and the American Disability Act protects Americans who are in treatment for opioid use disorder. People who are receiving MAT are most often considered to have a disability. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) has put together a brochure on MAT and individual rights that will explain in-depth how the ADA functions to protect the rights of individuals receiving MAT. 

Are There Alternatives to Suboxone for Opioid Addiction Treatment?

The three common drugs used to treat opioid use disorder are buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Methadone is another drug used to treat opioid use disorder, and it also reduces cravings and prevents withdrawal symptoms. It’s the strongest and most therapeutic of the MAT drugs and the most difficult to access, as those who take it must report to a methadone clinic every day to receive their dose. It’s also used for more severe cases of opioid use disorder. 

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that also reduces cravings and blocks the effects of opioids and can be accessed far more freely than methadone. However, it requires a patient to be free of opioids for at least seven days before being taken. There is no abuse or diversion potential with naltrexone.

Get Suboxone Treatment and Drug and Alcohol Rehab from Muse Treatment

If you or someone you love is living with an opioid use disorder, also known as addiction, it may seem overwhelming to read about the drugs and treatments used to fight this debilitating disease. You may feel isolated and alone. An opioid use disorder is a medical illness that causes changes to the chemistry of the brain; it is not a moral failing or a character flaw. Someone fighting a substance use disorder is no different from someone fighting cancer, diabetes, or asthma. You are not alone, over 45 million Americans are living with addiction every day, and many never receive the help they need. It doesn’t have to be that way. At Muse Treatment, we specialize in helping those living with an opioid use disorder find their path to recovery and unlock the true potential of who they truly are. A whole new world is waiting for you outside of drug and alcohol use, but you must take that first step. Reach out to us today at 866-336-9037 and begin your journey to sobriety.

Addiction Treatment Center,Suboxone,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.


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