Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is a brand-name prescription drug. It’s used to treat dependence on opioid drugs.
Suboxone comes as an oral film that’s placed under your tongue (sublingual) or between your gums and cheek (buccal). The film dissolves in your mouth.
Suboxone contains two drugs in each film: buprenorphine and naloxone. It’s available in four strengths:
- 8 mg buprenorphine / 2 mg naloxone
Studies show that Suboxone is effective in reducing opioid misuse. It’s also effective for keeping people with opioid dependence in treatment over a period of 24 weeks. (How well a drug such as Suboxone performs is partly assessed based on how long people stay in treatment.)
Phases of treatment
Treatment of opioid dependence occurs in two phases: induction and maintenance. Suboxone is used in both of these phases.
During the induction phase, Suboxone is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms when opioid use is being decreased or stopped. Suboxone is only used for induction in people who are dependent on short-acting opioids. These opioids include heroin, codeine, morphine, and oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone).
Suboxone should only be used when the effects of these opioids have begun to wear off and withdrawal symptoms have started.
During the maintenance phase, Suboxone is used at a stable dosage for an extended period. The purpose of the maintenance phase is to keep withdrawal symptoms and cravings in check as you go through your drug abuse or addiction treatment program.
After several months to a year or longer, your doctor may stop your Suboxone treatment using a slow dosage taper.
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