What is Suboxone?

Suboxone® is a brand of a medication that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. It is a prescription medication that is used to treat opioid use disorder. Other names commonly used are the brands Zubsolv and Subutex (buprenorphine without naloxone), and typically called “subs” or “bupe”. 

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist, which means it triggers the same pleasurable sensations you feel when taking opioids, but to a lesser degree. The pleasurable effects from the suboxone increase with each dose, but level-off at a moderate dose, even if you take more this is called the “ceiling effect” and part of what makes buprenorphine such a unique treatment option. 

Naloxone is not readily absorbed from Suboxone when taken as prescribed. It is in Suboxone predominantly as a deterrent to misuse, and will be absorbed if injected. Naloxone is a potent opioid antagonist that will cause withdrawal if taken by someone who has recently taken opioids. 

Due to harm reduction qualities of Suboxone, such as the naloxone component, and ceiling effect, providers with special privileges, often known as an “X-waiver” can prescribe Suboxone or other buprenorphine products for patients to take home in limited supply, rather than the previously common method of daily observed dosing in a clinic. 

Am I a good candidate for Suboxone?

Your specialist at Meridian Advanced Psychiatry determines if you’re a good candidate for this treatment after your initial consultation. The medication is FDA-approved for people who are:

  • Diagnosed with opioid use disorder
  • Willing to follow the safety precautions
  • Not diagnosed with a contraindicated health condition

Treatment with Suboxone works best when combined with behavioral therapy. The experienced team at Meridian Advanced Psychiatry offers an outpatient opioid use disorder program that includes medications along with ongoing behavioral therapy.

How does Suboxone treatment work?

After your specialist at Meridian Advanced Psychiatry has determined that you’re a good candidate for Suboxone, your treatment plan is initiated. Administration of Suboxone occurs in three phases:

Induction Phase

The induction phase refers to the initiation of your Suboxone, which is conducted under medical guidance after you’ve gone 12-24 hours without opioids and you’re in the early stages of withdrawal.

Stabilization Phase

You enter the stabilization phase after you’ve discontinued use of the opioid. Your Suboxone is adjusted as needed to help control cravings and withdrawal symptoms and prevent a relapse.

Maintenance Phase

Once you’re doing well on a stable dose of Suboxone, you’re considered to be in the maintenance phase. You can continue to take Suboxone indefinitely and your specialist will work with you on a plan that aligns with your treatment goal. Evidence continues to grow showing that patients that spend more time in maintenance, often 1-2 years, do better long term than patients that stop Suboxone sooner. 

Opioid addiction is a medical condition that requires physician management with treatments such as Suboxone and behavioral therapy. To learn more about Suboxone and how it can help you, call Meridian Advanced Psychiatry today or request an appointment online.

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