Suboxone (A complete review)

Suboxone is a medication that is used to treat opioid addiction.

In this blog article, we will discuss what suboxone is used for and common side effects.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction and is a mixture of buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine is an opioid prescription medication, opioids are sometimes referred to as narcotics.

Naloxone is a drug that counteracts the effects of opioid medication or narcotics, including pain assistance or the caused feelings of euphoria that can lead someone to begin abusing opioids. Suboxone’s most common purpose is to deal with narcotic (opiate) addiction or dependence.

To clarify, suboxone is a pain relief medication.

Important Information

The drug subuxone has the potential to slow or stop your respiration, and this drug may be habit-forming.

Abuse of suboxone can lead to addiction, accidental overdose, and in rare cases the abuse can become fatal.

This is especially true for youngsters or other people using the medicine while not prescribed by a medical professional specifically to them.

Taking Suboxone while you are pregnant may cause extremely dangerous and potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms and side effects in a newborn baby.

Dangerous side effects can happen if you utilize this medication along with alcohol, or with other medications that often can cause one to experience drowsiness or slowed breathing.

Before taking this medicine

You should not utilize Suboxone if you are allergic to buprenorphine or naloxone (Narcan).

Notify your doctor of your entire medical history and tell your doctor if you have ever experience:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Issues sleeping such as sleep apnea
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Problems with urination
  • Disease of the kidney or the liver
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine that affects respiration
  • Problems with the adrenal gland
  • Problems with the thyroid
  • A head injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Seizures
  • Alcohol dependence or misuse
  • Drug addiction problems
  • Mental illness

Some drugs can interact with both drugs buprenorphine and naloxone, and this interaction could precipitate a serious syndrome known as serotonin syndrome.

Ensure that your doctor knows if you cooccurring utilize stimulant drugs, herbal products, or drugs for depression, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting.

Consult with your physician before altering how or when you take your drugs.

If you use Suboxone while you are pregnant, your baby could develop a chemical dependency on the drug.

This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby once it is born.

Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may require medical treatment for several weeks.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Buprenorphine and naloxone can pass into breast milk and may cause drowsiness or breathing problems in the nursing baby.

Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding or plan to breastfeed.

How should I take Suboxone?

Use Suboxone exactly as directed by your medical provider.

Follow all directions on the prescription label and read all medication guides given to you by your medical provider or pharmacist.

Your medical provider could alter your usual dosage. Never use Suboxone in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed.

This medicine can be habit-forming. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction.

Misuse of narcotic drugs can lead to addiction, overdose, and in rare cases death, especially in a child or another person using the medicine without a prescription.

Selling or giving away Suboxone is strictly prohibited by the law.

Read and exactly follow any instructions for use provided with your medicine.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for clarification if you do not understand these instructions.

Use dry hands when handling Suboxone. Place the sublingual tablet or film under your tongue.

Allow the medicine to dissolve slowly. Do not chew or swallow it whole.

If you switch between medicines containing buprenorphine, there is a chance that you may not use the same dose for each one.

Follow all directions given to you by medical professionals exactly as they are given to you.

Do not suddenly terminate using Suboxone, or you could experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Ask your doctor how to safely terminate using this medicine.

Your doctor should frequently order blood tests for you to monitor your liver function.

All your medical care providers should know that you are being treated for opioid addiction, and that you take Suboxone.

Make sure your family members know how to provide this information in case they need to speak for you during an emergency.

Never crush or break a Suboxone sublingual tablet to inhale the powder or mix it into a liquid to inject the drug into your veins.

Research has found that these methods of intake have resulted in death.

For the storage and keeping of this medication, store it in the foil pouch it is provided in at room temperature, and keep it away from moisture and heat.

Discard an empty pouch in a place where children and pets cannot get to.

Keep track of your medicine. Suboxone is a drug that has the potential for abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using it improperly.

Never keep leftover opioid medication. Simply a single dose can cause death in someone who uses this medicine accidentally or improperly.

Ask your pharmacist where to find a drug take-back disposal program.

If there is no take-back program, remove any unused films from the foil pack and flush the films down the toilet. Place the empty foil pack into the trash.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you realize you missed a dose, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose.

Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Immediately Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

A drug overdose can be fatal, especially in a child or other person using this medicine without a prescription.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, cold or clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, fainting, slow heart rate, very slow breathing, or coma.

What should I avoid while taking Suboxone?

Do not drink alcohol while taking suboxone. Dangerous side effects or in some cases death could occur.

Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how this medicine will affect you.

Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Suboxone side effects

Seek emergency medical attention if you experience signs of an allergic reaction to Suboxone such as: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Like other narcotic medicines, Suboxone has the potential to slow your breathing.

Death can occur if breathing becomes too slow and weak.

A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.

Call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention immediately if you have:

  • weak or shallow breathing, breathing that stops during sleep;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • confusion, loss of coordination, extreme weakness;
  • blurred vision, slurred speech;
  • liver problems – upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice(yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • low cortisol levels – nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness; or
  • opioid withdrawal symptoms – shivering, goosebumps, increased sweating, feeling hot or cold, runny nose, watery eyes, diarrhea, muscle pain.

Seek medical attention at once if you experience symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Long-term utilization of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in both men and women.

It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.

Common Suboxone side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, feeling drunk, trouble concentrating;
  • withdrawal symptoms;
  • tongue pain, redness or numbness inside your mouth;
  • nausea, vomiting, constipation;
  • headache, back pain;
  • fast or pounding heartbeats, increased sweating; or
  • sleep problems (insomnia).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Furthermore, you may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Suboxone?

Sometimes it is unsafe to use certain medications while you are taking suboxone.

Certain medications can alter your blood levels of other drugs you are taking, which may increase side effects or make the medications that you are taking less effective.

Narcotic (opioid) medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death.

Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:

  • other narcotic medications – opioid pain medicine or prescription cough medicine;
  • a sedative like Valium – diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril, Tranxene, Versed, Xanax, and others; or
  • drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing – a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, tranquilizer, antidepressant, or antipsychotic medicine.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect Suboxone, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Suboxone only for the indication prescribed.

Always talk with your medical provider to ensure the information you learn about suboxone from this page or from the medical information pamphlets is consistent with your own personal circumstances and health.

Want to learn more about suboxone? Try these recommended readings!

The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs to Know

The opioid epidemic is responsible for the longest sustained decline in US life expectancy since the time of World War I and the Great Influenza.

In 2017, nearly 50,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose – with an estimated two million more living with opioid addiction every day.

The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs to Know is an accessible, nonpartisan overview of the causes, politics, and treatments tied to the most devastating health crisis of our time.

Its comprehensive approach and Q&A format offer listeners a practical path to understanding the epidemic from all sides: the basic science of opioids; the nature of addiction; the underlying reasons for the opioid epidemic; effective approaches to helping individuals, families, communities, and national policy; and common myths related to opioid addiction.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community.

Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America – addiction like no other the country has ever faced.

How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland

Dopesick

The only book to fully chart the devastating opioid crisis in America: An unforgettable portrait of the families and first responders on the front lines, from a New York Times best-selling author and journalist who has lived through it.

In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America’s 20-plus year struggle with opioid addiction.

From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched. 

Suboxone: 16 Practical Tips for Successful Buprenorphine Treatment

This book offers helpful information about how the drug suboxone is used and how to optimize the usage of the drug.

It discusses whether or not the drug should be used in the short-term or the long-term, if patients can successfully taper off the drug and how to do so, and what other aspects suboxone patients should take into consideration to experience the best usage and effects of suboxone.

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