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Suboxone is a drug prescribed for the medical treatment of opioid dependence. It is typically taken by placing the tablet under the tongue until it dissolves. Suboxone is actually a combination of two drugs: Buprenorphine serves to lessen the withdrawal symptoms from opiates, and naloxone counteracts the opioid effects when the drug is snorted or injected, thus discouraging misuse 23. Suboxone itself also comes with possible withdrawal symptoms 3. Furthermore, taking Suboxone can actually cause withdrawal symptoms in those who take it while continuing to take other opioids, or in those who start taking Suboxone too soon after stopping other opioids, according to eMedTV 3. Furthermore, if injected, Suboxone can cause severe withdrawal symptoms 3.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The principle ingredient of Suboxone, buprenorphine, is itself an opiate; however, it is long acting, and does not produce the intense high that other opiate drugs do. Opiate withdrawal symptoms may accompany treatment with Suboxone if the patient is not weaned off the medication properly 3. These are all typical withdrawal symptoms of opiate drugs, including heroin.
List of Opiate Antagonists
Obvious signs of withdrawal from opiate drugs, including Suboxone, include changes in behavior 3. For example, an individual may become preoccupied, or even obsessed, with obtaining more of the drug. Suboxone has a high potential of being an abused drug. Those withdrawing from it may engage in extreme drug-seeking behaviors, such as doctor-shopping and/or criminal behavior to obtain more of the drug, according to Anasthesia Assisted Medical Opiate Detoxification Inc.
- Obvious signs of withdrawal from opiate drugs, including Suboxone, include changes in behavior 3.
- Those withdrawing from it may engage in extreme drug-seeking behaviors, such as doctor-shopping and/or criminal behavior to obtain more of the drug, according to Anasthesia Assisted Medical Opiate Detoxification Inc.
Some people withdrawing from the Suboxone ingredient buprenorphine experience psychological symptoms. These symptoms may include hallucinations such as seeing, hearing and feeling things that are not there.
List of Opiate Antagonists
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- Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals (RBP): Suboxone Full Prescribing Information
- MedlinePlus: Buprenorphine Sublingual and Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual
- eMedTV: Suboxone Withdrawal
- FDA approves the first non-opioid treatment for management of opioid withdrawal symptoms in adults. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published May 16, 2018.
- Velander JR. Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions. Ochsner J. 2018 Spring; 18(1): 23–29.
- Opioid Addiction and Treatment: Overdose, Treatment, Prescribing, Pregnancy, Neonatal, Recovery, Data/Trends/Statistics. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Highlights of Prescribing Information: Suboxone. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 2013. doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
- Amato L, Minozzi S, Davoli M, Vecchi S. Psychosocial and pharmacological treatments versus pharmacological treatments for opioid detoxification. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd005031.pub4
- Ling W, Hillhouse M, Domier C, et al. Buprenorphine tapering schedule and illicit opioid use. Addiction. 2009;104(2):256-65. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02455.x
- Sigmon SC, Dunn KE, Saulsgiver K, et al. A randomized, double-blind evaluation of buprenorphine taper duration in primary prescription opioid abusers. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013;70(12):1347-54 .doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2216
- Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
- Blum K, Oscar-berman M, Femino J, et al. Withdrawal from Buprenorphine/Naloxone and Maintenance with a Natural Dopaminergic Agonist: A Cautionary Note. J Addict Res Ther. 2013;4(2). doi:10.4172/2155-6105.1000146
- Treating Opioid Use Disorder During Pregnancy. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Updated July 2017.
Leah DiPlacido, a medical writer with more than nine years of biomedical writing experience, received her doctorate in immunology from Yale University. Her work is published in "Journal of Immunology," "Arthritis and Rheumatism" and "Journal of Experimental Medicine." She writes about disease for doctors, scientists and the general public.