How Does Suboxone Treatment Work?

Suboxone treatment has been used to successfully treat individuals who suffer from an opioid use disorder. To learn about the use of Suboxone treatment, read the sections below. 

Suboxone Treatment

Table of Contents

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a brand-name drug that is used to treat opioid addiction. The drug contains two ingredients, buprenorphine, and naloxone. While the buprenorphine relieves opioid cravings without producing a high, naloxone works to block the euphoria instead of the effects of opioids. When used with other therapeutic practices, Suboxone treatment can help an individual overcome and learn to cope with their opioid addiction.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Suboxone addiction can occur because the substance does have opioid effects. When using it long-term, an individual may develop a Suboxone addiction. Additionally, Suboxone addiction can lead to overdose and lethal side effects, which is especially true if the individual uses the drug alongside other opioids, alcohol, and substances.

Suboxone for Opioid Addiction

More than 2.5 million Americans suffer from an opioid use disorder. Opioid use disorder contributed to over 28,000 overdose deaths in 2014 alone. As such, Suboxone treatment is vital to help individuals overcome an opioid addiction.

How Does it Work? 

Suboxone treatment works because of the two drugs that make up the medication. The first is buprenorphine, which relieves opioid cravings. Because these cravings may influence further use of the opioid, this drug will help the individual avoid giving into cravings.

The second drug that is found in Suboxone treatment is naloxone. Naloxone works to inhibit the euphoric effects of short-lasting opioids. By doing this, the individual will not feel the impacts of using an opioid and thus can learn how to cope with the stressors of daily life.2

How Long Should Suboxone be Prescribed?

Typically, Suboxone is prescribed over twenty-four weeks. However, the length an individual undergoes treatment will depend on the individual case, level of addiction to opioids, and history of opioid addiction and treatment. The drug itself is prescribed by a medical doctor to help an individual overcome opioid dependence.

Treatment with Therapy for Addiction

While medication-assisted treatment can help an individual overcome operated action, it is important that the individual also engages in a therapy program. Whether the person chooses to attend inpatient therapy, outpatient therapy, or any other treatment facility, therapy and counseling teach them different methods for coping with addiction. Even so, the use of medications can help the individual work through substance abuse disorders.

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

Suboxone treatment can have addictive qualities and cause withdrawal symptoms. Along with other Suboxone side effects, an individual may experience withdrawal symptoms due to the naloxone that is in the medication. 

How Long Does Suboxone Withdrawal Last?

Suboxone withdrawal lasts depending on several different factors that will be explored in the next section. Generally, it depends on one’s metabolism, history of opioid use, and general health. Typically, the withdrawal symptoms of Suboxone detox can last several hours and up to several days. 

How Can it Be Reduced?

There are some ways that you can avoid withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone should only be used with short-acting opioids because long-acting opioids may cause increased withdrawal symptoms. For example, Suboxone should be used with heroin, codeine, morphine, and oxycodone.

Additionally, this drug should be used under your tongue rather than your cheek because your body will absorb less naloxone under your tongue and may decrease your side effects and withdrawal problems.

Precipitated Withdrawal

Precipitated withdrawal is used to help an individual recover from substance abuse. Typically, it is done through naloxone because this trip can help reverse an opioid overdose by blocking the receptors that are responsible for the high caused by opioid addiction.

Instead of using accidents, the individual will take a medication to help is the detox process. The symptoms generally include:3

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Goosebumps
  • Chills
  • Headaches 

How is Suboxone Metabolized?

Suboxone half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the drug to be completely removed from the body. It is metabolized through various physiological processes and several factors can affect detection time.

When thinking about Suboxone half-life, it’s important to discuss the two different drugs within this substance. While buprenorphine is metabolized and eliminated through urine and feces, naloxone is metabolized by the liver and  usually removed through the urine.

Suboxone Half-Life

The half-life of a drug refers to the time it takes for the drug to be reduced by half within the body, meaning it is the process in which the body processes and gets rid of the drug. Like all drugs, the Suboxone half-life may vary depending on a variety of factors.

Typically, it takes about four to five half-lives for a drug to be eliminated from the body. The effects of Suboxone last for about twenty-four hours. The half-life is generally between 120 to 210 hours. That said, it takes about five to eight days for most healthy adults to have no traces of the drug left in their bodies after treatment.4  

Factors That Affect Suboxone Detection Time

Some factors will impact detection time, meaning the amount of time it takes for the drug to completely remove itself from your body. Some of these factors include:

  • Body fat content
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Amount of the last dosage taken
  • History of substance abuse

Additionally, liver health has a major impact on the half-life. Because this substance is typically illuminated through the urine, moderate liver disease may increase the half-life to six to twelve days and severe liver disease may increase the half-life to seven to fourteen days. 

Tapering Suboxone

Even though tapering Suboxone can be a lengthy process, it can lead to a better chance for that individual to experience drug stabilization. Additionally, the drug can be stopped suddenly, but it can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms that may be difficult for the individual to cope with.

Even so, tapering the substance is the best way to help an individual stay sober. Typically, the dosage decrease will be about 25% of the original dosage every ten days. This percent was reported to be one of the most manageable ways to stop the use.6

There is a specific stage called the stabilization phase of Suboxone treatment. During this phase, individuals find a dosage that works for them. This stage is monitored closely by professionals in a treatment setting and may be altered as necessary. 

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a scientifically proven successful way to treat opioid addiction. not only has MAT shown to decrease opioid use, opioid-related overdose deaths, criminal activity, and infectious disease transmission, but individuals can engage in MAT to even increase social functioning and retention in treatment. Suboxone can be used as an MAT to treat opioid addiction.

Using Suboxone as MAT

Using Suboxone as MAT is a safe and effective way for an individual to cope with opioid use disorder. By combining medication-assisted treatment with therapy, the individual may be able to learn to cope with their opioid use disorder. 

Why Suboxone?

Suboxone helps one overcome opioid use disorders. Even though there are some risks, including allergic reactions, dizziness, drowsiness, dependence, and others, there are many pros that come along with using Suboxone as medication-assisted treatment.

For example, this substance helps individuals become less physically dependent on opioids, reduces the chance of withdrawal symptoms when used at a proper dosage, and can help reduce the drug cravings that are commonly associated with the detox process.

Methadone vs. Suboxone

Methadone and Suboxone are both medications that can treat chronic pain and opioid addiction. Both of these substances can be used to treat chronic pain, but Suboxone is the only approved medication to treat opioid dependence. That is why Suboxone is the treatment that will likely be prescribed to an individual undergoing treatment for opioid addiction8

What to Expect?

When undergoing this treatment, the individual can expect to do the treatment in a supervised setting so that they can be monitored as they use the drug for their opioid addiction. Additionally, it does take about twenty-four hours for the effects to become fully integrated into the body. For that reason, it may take some time before the drug effects impact the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction.

There are typically three main phases of this MAT, which include induction (the first one or two days), stabilization, and maintenance. During induction, the individual first experiences the effects of Suboxone treatment. During stabilization, the individual will start to find the dosage that works for them. Finally, maintenance will occur as long as it takes for the individual to learn to cope with their opioid use disorder.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Treatment for opioid addiction typically has many components. Further, each individual’s treatment plan will be different depending on their various needs and cases. Typically, treatment for opioid addiction includes detox, inpatient therapy, outpatient therapy, and various counseling or therapy techniques. In addition, medications may be used to help individuals overcome opioid addiction. 


Detox refers to a detoxification period wherein the individual will start to remove the substance from their body. In some cases, it may involve experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which may be done at a treatment facility during an inpatient or outpatient program. 


Inpatient therapy requires an individual to live at a treatment center as they undergo treatment. This individual is well engaged in various activities that will help them learn to cope with their operated diction and develop new coping strategies to deal with triggers and life stressors. 


An outpatient addiction treatment is when an individual comes into a clinic to receive treatment for their opioid addiction. The individual may engage in individual or group therapy as they learn to cope with the stressors of daily lives and identify their triggers that are related to substance abuse. 


An individual may undergo several different types of therapy as they address their substance use addiction. It may involve cognitive behavioral therapy, motivation enhancement therapy, contingency management, group counseling, individual counseling, and even family counseling.10 

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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