Understanding the Side Effects of Suboxone

Suboxone is commonly prescribed to treat addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers.

This page will go over the side effects of Suboxone and how treatment for opioid addiction works.

What is Suboxone?

Medical professional explaining Suboxone to patient with opioid addictionSuboxone is a drug that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone, Buprenorphine is in a class of drugs called partial opioid agonist-antagonists, and naloxone is an opioid antagonist. Partial opioid agonists activate the brain’s opioid receptors at a low level, while opioid antagonists block opioids from attaching to opioid receptors.

When Suboxone is used to treat addiction, it relieves symptoms of withdrawal and reduces drug cravings, without causing the euphoric high associated with the misuse of opioids. By blunting withdrawal symptoms and cravings, suboxone helps patients function in their daily lives and focus on building the skills needed for long-term recovery.

Effects of Short-term Suboxone Use

In addition to reducing withdrawal symptoms and preventing drug cravings, Suboxone can have unintended side effects. Side effects typically subside on their own when Suboxone is used as directed. Common short-term side effects of Suboxone use include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Blurred vision
  • Back pain

Suboxone is typically administered as a dissolvable strip that is placed under the tongue. This can cause mouth numbness or pain. The immediate side effects of Suboxone can be more severe if the medication is overused. More serious side effects of Suboxone use include:

  • Low energy.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
  • Dark urine.
  • Light-colored stools.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Confusion.
  • Hives.
  • Skin rash.
  • Itching.
  • Nausea.
  • Difficulty staying awake.
  • Swelling in the face, mouth, throat, or extremities.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing. 

Effects of Long-term Suboxone Use

Physiological effects of long-term Suboxone use have not been extensively researched at this point, and more research is needed to determine whether using Suboxone for an extended period of time has any negative consequences for physical health.

One of the characteristics of the long-term use of any opioid agonist—including partial agonists like buprenorphine—is physical dependence. Physical dependence is when the body becomes reliant on a substance in order to function normally. This means someone may experience withdrawal if they were to abruptly quit taking Suboxone.

Withdrawal from opiates and opioid-agonist medications like Suboxone can be unpleasant, but it is not usually dangerous. However, someone that wishes to quit their use of Suboxone should consult with a clinician as withdrawal can sometimes be severe enough to lead someone to relapse. The symptoms of the Suboxone withdrawal syndrome are similar to those experienced from withdrawal from heroin and narcotic painkillers. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Runny eyes and nose.
  • Insomnia.
  • Sweating.
  • Yawning.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

In addition to treatment with medication, most people with opioid use disorder (OUD) also need to address the psychological and social aspects of their addiction through behavioral therapy, counseling, and peer support.

Opioid Addiction Treatment in Florida

Treatment for opioid addiction often begins at our medical detox facility in Riverview, FL and is followed by a long-term treatment plan, generally incorporating medication and behavioral therapy.

Treatment can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the individual’s personal circumstances and home environment. Many people begin treatment in an inpatient or residential program, eventually transitioning to our outpatient treatment program in Riverview, FL as their needs progress.

Addiction affects every area of an individual’s life and can be difficult to overcome; but lasting recovery is possible through effective treatment. River Oaks offers a comprehensive addiction treatment program near Tampa. Call us today at to learn more.

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