Suboxone Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

What You Need to Know About Treatment for Suboxone Addiction

Buprenorphine is a drug used to help with addiction to opioid medications like heroin or morphine. It can be prescribed in combination with naloxone as Suboxone or as a single drug in its own right. Suboxone is a combination drug made of buprenorphine and naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of other opioids. The two drugs work together to help people deal with their withdrawal symptoms from prescription opioids. The combination of buprenorphine and naloxone is intended to keep people from going back to using opioids after they have stopped. The combination of Suboxone and naloxone is sometimes referred to as “bup-nax.”

Forms of Suboxone

Suboxone can be prescribed in pills, in a liquid form (known as Subutex), or as an inhaler. Another form of Suboxone, a Suboxone nasal spray, has not been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. There are many different types of Suboxone. Some people use a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone to control withdrawal symptoms because they have more severe symptoms than others when trying to stop using opioids. So, one combination may work better than another for a particular individual. Addiction to Suboxone is rare because this drug is not addictive when taken as prescribed. It can be habituating, though. Also, misusing the medication can cause an overdose, which may lead to death, and stopping it suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Suboxone is not addictive when taken as prescribed. However, taking higher doses of Suboxone than prescribed, or injecting Suboxone, can lead to addiction. Suboxone is a Schedule III controlled substance whose only legal use is the treatment of opioid dependence.

How Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone works by helping the brain form a “bridge” out of the previous opioid addiction. People on Suboxone often experience less intense cravings and fewer withdrawal symptoms, so they are more likely to be able to stay off opioids in the long run.

Suboxone Side Effects

The most well-known side effect of Suboxone is that it produces a “high” similar to that of opioids. However, some people who use Suboxone develop a dependence on the drug. Suboxone does not work for everyone who has an opioid addiction.

Suboxone and the Liver

The liver breaks down the medication in the body. So, if someone uses Suboxone for a long time without skipping doses, the liver can build up a toxic amount. This organ can also become inflamed from continuous high doses of Suboxone.

Suboxone and the Heart

Suboxone is not supposed to be taken for more than three weeks at a time. This drug can cause an irregular heartbeat. Suboxone can also lead to the fluid buildup in the heart known as heart failure.

Suboxone and the Nervous System

Suboxone can cause severe depression, anxiety, and paranoia. It can also cause seizures in some people. One of the side effects of Suboxone is that it can slow your thinking — this is often referred to as “Suboxone brain”.

Suboxone and the Lungs

Suboxone can also cause “Suboxone lung,” or pneumonitis. This is a serious side effect that usually occurs in people who don’t have a good immune system.

Suboxone and the Reproductive System

Suboxone can lead to irregular periods in women or even stop them from occurring. Some men have noticed that their sperm count has gone down since they started using Suboxone.

Suboxone and the Skin

Suboxone can cause severe skin reactions, including itching and rashes. Suboxone can also cause ulcers in the stomach, mouth, and esophagus.

Suboxone and Withdrawal

Using Suboxone for a long period of time and then stopping it abruptly, can lead to withdrawal symptoms. They include:


When someone is withdrawing from Suboxone, their muscles can start to shake uncontrollably. This may involve the entire body or specific areas like the hands and legs. This reaction can only be alleviated by taking more Suboxone.

Suicidal Thoughts

Being deeply depressed is one of the most common side effects of withdrawal from Suboxone. A person who is severely depressed may have suicidal thoughts.


Withdrawal from Suboxone can also cause stress and anxiety. In fact, anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal from this medication.

Nausea and Diarrhea

The combination of these two symptoms is pretty normal for those going through withdrawal from Suboxone. One of the most common side effects of Suboxone is nausea, which can be accompanied by vomiting. Some people also experience diarrhea.

Signs of Suboxone Addiction

Here are five signs that someone may be addicted to Suboxone:

Experiencing Intense Cravings

Suboxone is supposed to help people resist their cravings for other opioids like heroin, OxyContin, and methadone. However, a person who is addicted to Suboxone may still experience intense cravings, even while they are using this medication.

Taking Suboxone in Higher Doses Than Prescribed

If a doctor prescribes Suboxone, they usually tell the person to take it at a specific dose. However, a person who is addicted to Suboxone may take more doses of the drug at once than he or she should. This can lead to larger amounts of Suboxone in the body and greater withdrawal symptoms.

Getting the Drug From Multiple Sources

Some people who are addicted to Suboxone will obtain the medication from multiple different sources. They may be getting it from a doctor, but they may also be buying it illegally. This can lead to overdoses and trouble with law enforcement.

Abusing Other Drugs

Suboxone is not very strong. So, if a person who is addicted to this medication also develops an addiction to other drugs like alcohol or cocaine, they may not be able to stop using those drugs.

Lying About Using Suboxone

Suboxone is a prescription drug. So, it is important that a person who uses this medication tells their doctor every time they take it. If a person lies about taking their Suboxone, it may mean that they are addicted to this drug.

Suboxone Addiction Treatment

Suboxone addiction treatment involves a number of different resources.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive type of addiction treatment. It involves living at a rehabilitation facility for a period of around 30-90 days. Moreover, the treatment program is structured and can include things like therapy, group work, physical training, and medication.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment involves some type of therapy, but people who get this kind of treatment do not have to stay at the facility all day. Instead, they go to their therapist for appointments every day for about one hour.

Family Therapy

Some people who want to stop using Suboxone will try to quit on their own. However, it can be difficult for them to stay off the medication. It’s a good idea to try to get family members involved in the person’s treatment. They can help keep each other accountable.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is a good treatment for Suboxone addiction. This type of therapy involves talking about your experiences and feelings about drug addiction and recovery. It is also a good way to work through the challenges of quitting Suboxone.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is another way to get support while trying to quit Suboxone. It may seem like it would be difficult to stop using the medication, so it is important to get support from other people who are facing and overcoming the same challenge. They can share their own experiences and help you through your struggle.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is another type of addiction therapy that can help people who use Suboxone. The therapist might have you make a list of different emotions that are associated with the medication. Then, the therapist will help you notice which parts of those emotions might be causing you to act differently.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is another type of therapy that can be useful for people who want to quit Suboxone. This therapy is designed to help you become more engaged in your recovery and to stay motivated about your progress. It can also help you to avoid relapsing.

Contingency Management

Contingency management involves giving you a reward every time you do something positive. For example, you might receive a reward when you complete a program or pass an important milestone. This can help you to stay motivated and get the support you need while quitting the medication.


Meditation is a good way to take control of the parts of your life that feel like they are out of control. It can help you feel better about yourself and your situation. The calmness meditation brings can help you to avoid negative situations and thoughts.


Acupuncture can be a useful way to alleviate the discomfort of withdrawal from Suboxone. The needle is used to stimulate nerves in the body. This will help to reduce pain and other symptoms of withdrawal.

What to Expect During Treatment of Suboxone Addiction

The treatment process for Suboxone addiction can be relatively long. The average rehabilitation program lasts about 90 days. Here are some of the things to expect during treatment.

Drug Tests

Drug tests are a normal part of the Suboxone treatment process. You may have to submit to a drug test any time from the beginning of treatment to the end. Drug tests can show the levels of other drugs that might be present in your system.


Some people who are addicted to Suboxone will need to go to the hospital during their treatment process. This can happen if you are taking too much Suboxone or if you have other complications.

Family Support

Family support is an important part of the recovery process. You might want to have your family be there throughout your treatment.


Detoxification can be very useful if you want to stop using Suboxone. It might help you to wean yourself off the medication. It can also help you to become more comfortable with your emotions and experiences.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is an important part of the treatment process. It involves learning how to avoid relapsing after you leave treatment. It can help you stay sober when you are exposed to triggers and stressful situations.

Significance of Rehab Centers in Treatment of Suboxone Addiction

The treatment process for Suboxone addiction can be long, but there are many benefits to staying in a rehab program. Here are a few of the things to know about rehab centers and Suboxone treatment.

Trained Staff

The staff at a rehab center is made up of experts and professionals. They can help clients work on the issues that may have led to their addiction. They will also help them to develop their recovery program and skills.


There are many different types of programs available at a rehab center. These can include behavioral programs, counseling, and 12-step support groups. You can choose the type of treatment that is right for you.

Different Approaches

Different approaches can also be available at a rehab center. The staff will discuss the different methods and determine which is best for the individual. They can work with people who have been addicted to alcohol or other drugs, too.

Sober Housing

In some cases, a rehab center can provide sober housing for people who are working on their recovery. This is a way to help them stay away from negative situations and people. This can also help them avoid issues that could lead to a relapse.

Residential Treatment

Some rehab centers offer residential treatment for their clients. This involves taking care of the individual and providing the care that they need. The person will be under the supervision of staff 24 hours a day. This can help them to stay clean, improve their lives, and learn how to live in a sober environment.

Suboxone is a powerful medication for people who are trying to quit using opioids. It can help to provide an alternative that does not produce the same effects. However, you should always be careful about how they use Suboxone. Frequent use can lead to addiction. If you or someone you love is battling a Suboxone addiction, it’s important to understand the drug’s properties and potential consequences. Treatment and rehab centers can be a useful way to overcome a Suboxone addiction. They will provide an environment where the person can feel comfortable and work on their recovery.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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