Suboxone sublingual film is indicated for maintenance treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counselling and psychosocial support. Suboxone may be more suitable for patients who have a shorter history of opioid dependence.

How Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone (buprenorphine + naloxone) has been approved for the treatment of opiate dependence. It is actually two drugs in one pill.

* Buprenorphine – This is the active ingredient in Suboxone. Buprenophine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it can both activate and block opiate receptors, depending on the clinical situation.

* Naloxone – This drug is an opiate antagonist, meaning it blocks the effects of opiates. When Suboxone is taken under the tongue as prescribed, naloxone is not absorbed in sufficient amounts to have a clinical effect. Because Suboxone is an opiate agonist (a molecule that can trigger a receptor), there is a risk of misuse by people addicted to opiates. To prevent this, naloxone was combined with buprenorphine. If Suboxone is crushed and injected in hopes of getting an opiate “high,” naloxone blocks the effect of opiates, producing severe withdrawal symptoms.

Important Warning!

If Suboxone is chewed or crush and injected, the naloxone contained in the drug will produce severe opiate withdrawal symptoms.

How Does Suboxone Help Beat Opiate Addiction?

* When opiates are taken into the body, they attach to receptors in the brain, causing dopamine release and euphoria.

* Eventually, opiates leave the receptors causing the feelings of euphoria to fade and the symptoms of withdrawal to begin.

* As more of the receptors become empty, the withdrawal symptoms worsen. At this point, Suboxone therapy can begin.

* When Suboxone is taken, the buprenorphine attaches to the receptors in the brain once occupied by opiates. Because the receptors are no longer empty, withdrawal symptoms diminish.

* Buprenorphine attaches firmly to the receptors, filling them and blocking other opioids from occupying those receptors. Buprenorphine has a much longer duration of action than do other opioids, so the effects do not wear off quickly as is the case with opiates.

* Since there are no withdrawal symptoms, one can stop taking opiates and start the suboxone treatment program.

Learn more about the side effects of Suboxone.