Can You Get Addicted to Suboxone?

man who is addicted to Suboxone

Can You Get Addicted to Suboxone?

Suboxone is a brand-name prescription that is used to treat opioid addiction. Containing the opioid buprenorphine and the medication naloxone, Suboxone is effective in reducing cravings for opioids such as heroin, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone. Because of this, people in treatment for opioid addiction often take Suboxone to control their cravings and withdrawal symptoms while they detox from opioids. Afterward, some individuals continue to use the medication to control cravings while they complete therapy and rehab. While Suboxone is not intended to cure addiction, it is meant as a helpful tool during the recovery process.

In the United States, Suboxone is considered a schedule III controlled substance. This means that while Suboxone holds medical value, there are still moderate risks for addiction. Because of this, doctors must be certified through the Department of Health and Human Services to prescribe Suboxone. This often poses the question, “can you get addicted to Suboxone?” Let’s take a look at the facts. 

What Are Buprenorphine and Naloxone?


Suboxone contains two ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. While buprenorphine is an opioid, it’s only a partial opioid agonist. This means that it prevents other opioids from binding to opioid receptors within the nervous system, causing opioids to be unable to affect the brain or create a “high”. As a result, buprenorphine provides individuals with a way to wean themselves off of opioids while minimizing their symptoms of withdrawal. This substance is unlikely to cause the sedation and euphoria which most opioids cause, however, for someone who has an opioid addiction, buprenorphine will satisfy their basic opioid cravings while effectively suppressing withdrawal symptoms.

Naloxone is a medication that is known for reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. Because naloxone is an opioid antagonist, it works to block and reverse the effects of opioids on a patient’s nervous system. To explain, the purpose of naloxone being in Suboxone is to prevent users from overdosing on buprenorphine. Additionally, the presence of naloxone reduces the risk of addiction, as it prevents the euphoric sensations that opioids typically produce. 

Can I Get Addicted to Suboxone?

While it is possible to become addicted to Suboxone, the risk is much lower when compared to other opioids. Because Suboxone has less sedative qualities than most opioids, it is less likely for individuals to develop cravings for the medication. Buprenorphine, the opioid ingredient in Suboxone, may produce moderate withdrawal symptoms like headaches, nausea, and muscle aches. To prevent withdrawal, doctors typically reduce their patient’s Suboxone doses over time as they progress in treatment. 

Unlike other opioids, buprenorphine has a “ceiling effect”.[1]  This means that taking larger and more frequent doses of buprenorphine will not amplify or increase its potency. While an individual may develop a tolerance to buprenorphine, they cannot relieve that tolerance by compulsive substance abuse, which is what signifies an addiction. 

While Suboxone addiction is unlikely, the abuse of this substance is possible. Drug traffickers have been selling illegal Suboxone to people throughout the United States for abuse. However, most people who buy Suboxone illegally are not attempting to experience an “opioid high.” Rather, they are trying to obtain relief from their current opioid withdrawal symptoms. Individuals might misuse Suboxone by using it to relieve opioid withdrawal without a prescription and without being in professional treatment for opioid addiction. 

In such cases, an individual may begin to use Suboxone whenever they notice the emergence of withdrawal symptoms, fail to abide by medical limits, and, unfortunately, suffer an overdose. When a person neglects to obtain treatment for opioid addiction and starts to use Suboxone regularly in an attempt to live without withdrawal symptoms, they become dependent on the medication and may not overcome the illness. While it’s easier to just take Suboxone, recovery is the only long-term solution for withdrawal and opioid addiction.

The Side Effects of Suboxone

Like most medications, Suboxone is known to cause a variety of side effects. It’s important to remember that Suboxone will affect each individual differently. For example, one individual may experience no side effects at all, while another person may struggle with several side effects of Suboxone. Fortunately, the side effects associated with Suboxone are not life-threatening and usually subside within several days. 

The most common side effects of Suboxone include:[2]

Common Side Effects of Suboxone

Suboxone is known to pose a risk for more serious side effects, especially when people mix it with alcohol or benzodiazepines. For instance, Suboxone may provoke an allergic reaction characterized by swelling in the throat and difficulty breathing. Also, high doses of the medication may cause liver damage and induce a coma. Lastly, an individual can suffer from a Suboxone overdose. Because of the risks associated, it is important to only take Suboxone under the direction and supervision of a licensed medical professional. 

The Symptoms of a Suboxone Overdose


Since Suboxone is an opioid-based medication, an overdose is one of the most serious risks of Suboxone. In fact, an overdose on Suboxone can be lethal if left untreated. Someone who uses too much of the medication, becomes addicted to Suboxone, or combines it with other drugs is most likely to suffer an overdose. 

The symptoms of a Suboxone overdose include:[2]

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Constricted pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of consciousness and coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Stomach pain
  • Excessive sweating

In severe cases, a Suboxone overdose may cause respiratory depression, a condition that restricts or stops an individual’s ability to breathe. Respiratory depression is known to cause brain damage, coma, and death. If you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of a Suboxone overdose, contact emergency medical professionals immediately.

Finding Treatment for Someone Who is Addicted to Suboxone

Suboxone is a useful medication, but it must be used responsibly. It is dangerous and irresponsible to abuse Suboxone by taking it too frequently, in large doses, or without a prescription. While it is unfortunate that a medication intended to help end addiction might also be addictive, however, once an individual overcomes dependence on Suboxone, they are able to make a full and lasting recovery from opioid addiction. 

If you or a loved one is addicted to Suboxone, please contact Florida Recovery Group today to learn more about our addiction treatment programs. Treatment programs for Suboxone dependence involve detox, individual therapy, group therapy, and ongoing support in an aftercare program. For help getting started, reach out to us today.