Suboxone® is the trade name of a medication that contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is added to prevent abuse.

When used properly, buprenorphine virtually eliminates opioid cravings.

It can be taken once per day. And like methadone, buprenorphine not only stops the cravings but also the withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate addiction.

How Buprenorphine works

Buprenorphine has unique properties that help:

  • Lower its potential for misuse
  • Reduce the effects of physical dependency on opioids, such as cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Increase its safety in case of overdose

Long acting

Buprenorphine is long acting. This means that after an introductory period, your doctor may have you take the pill every other day rather than once a day.

Weaker opioid partial agonist effects

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. This means that, like opioids, it produces effects such as euphoria or respiratory depression.

But these effects are weaker with buprenorphine than with drugs such as heroin and methadone.

Ceiling effect with less potential for abuse

Buprenorphine’s opioid effects increase with each dose until leveling off at moderate doses, even with further dose increases.

This “ceiling effect” helps reduce the risk of misuse, dependency and side effects.

What buprenorphine is not

Please remember: Buprenorphine is not treatment by itself.

Buprenorphine is one tool we use as part of a comprehensive opioid addiction treatment plan that also includes other clinical services, such as counseling and social support programs.

It must be combined with these other services to be effective.

Learn more about treatment

Contact Overmountain Recovery to find out more. We’re happy to answer any questions and help you get started on the path to recovery.

Buprenorphine treatment phases

Buprenorphine maintenance treatment consists of 3 phases:

Phase 1: Induction or stabilization

  • Scheduled office visits – weekly
  • Case management services – weekly
  • Drug screens – weekly
  • Counseling sessions – at least twice monthly

Phase 2: Maintenance through the 1st year

For those on buprenorphine less than one year, the maintenance phase includes:

  • Office visits – at least every two to four weeks
  • Counseling sessions – at least monthly
  • Case management services – at least monthly
  • Random observed drug screens – at least 12 times

Phase 3: Maintenance beyond the 1st year

For those on buprenorphine for one year or longer, ongoing maintenance includes:

  • Counseling sessions – at least monthly
  • Case management services – at least monthly
  • Office visits – at least every two months
  • Random observed drug screens – at least eight times annually

Side effects

Most common side effects

The most frequent negative effects of buprenorphine are:

  • Nausea, vomiting and constipation
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Headache and stomach pain
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Distress and irritability
  • Sweating
  • Fever

Unlikely but serious side effects

Notify your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following reactions:

  • Hives
  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Slowed breathing
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Mental/mood changes (such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations)

Rare side effects

  • Liver Disease
  • Allergic reaction – rash; itching or swelling, especially of face/tongue/throat; severe dizziness; trouble breathing*
  • Withdrawal symptoms if used soon after using narcotics such as heroin, morphine or methadone

*Call 9-1-1 right away if you’re experiencing a medical emergency or drug overdose! This includes difficulty breathing, chest pains or other serious symptoms.

Questions? Ready to get started?

See our frequently asked questions to learn more about Overmountain Recovery.

Or contact us about your questions and for help getting started on the path to recovery.