How to Take Suboxone? A Comprehensive Guide for Safe Medication Use11 min read

Are you or someone you know prescribed Suboxone for opioid addiction treatment? Knowing how to take Suboxone properly is crucial for a successful recovery journey. In this article, we will delve into the essential steps and best practices to ensure safe and effective medication use.

  • Understanding Suboxone: Learn about the composition, function, and its significance in addiction treatment.
  • Getting Started: Discover the initial steps, from consulting a healthcare provider to receiving a prescription.
  • Preparation: Get insights into dosage information, necessary supplies, and creating a treatment plan.
  • Administration Methods: Explore different methods of taking Suboxone, such as sublingual film and tablets.
  • Best Practices: Find out important tips for following the prescribed schedule and dealing with missed doses.
  • Potential Side Effects: Understand common side effects and when to seek help for severe reactions.

Understanding Suboxone

Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction. It contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings without causing the same euphoria as full opioids. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is added to prevent misuse and abuse of Suboxone. This combination makes it an effective tool in opioid addiction treatment.

Getting Started

To begin Suboxone treatment, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider specializing in addiction medicine. They will conduct a thorough medical evaluation and assess your substance use history to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

Consulting a Healthcare Provider

  • Choosing the Right Healthcare Professional: Seek out a qualified and experienced healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about Suboxone treatment.
  • Discussing Your Substance Use History: Openly share your history of opioid use to ensure accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment.


Before starting Suboxone, it’s crucial to understand the dosage information and gather all the necessary supplies for a seamless treatment process.

Learning about Suboxone Dosage

  • Understanding Different Dosage Strengths: Familiarize yourself with the available dosages and how they may be adjusted during treatment.
  • Factors Affecting the Dosage: Learn about factors such as opioid tolerance, metabolism, and individual response that can influence the appropriate dosage.

Administration Methods

Suboxone is primarily available in two forms: sublingual film and sublingual tablets. Understanding the administration methods is crucial to ensure the medication’s effectiveness.

Sublingual Film

Suboxone sublingual film comes in a dissolvable strip that is placed under the tongue. This method allows for quick absorption of the medication into the bloodstream. To take the sublingual film, follow these steps:

Proper Technique for Placing the Film

  • Wash Hands: Before handling the film, wash your hands thoroughly to maintain hygiene.
  • Dry Mouth: Ensure your mouth is dry before placing the film to prevent it from sliding around.
  • Place the Film: Gently place the film under the tongue and let it rest in its entirety.

Allowing the Film to Dissolve

  • No Chewing or Swallowing: Refrain from chewing or swallowing the film; allow it to dissolve naturally.
  • Avoid Eating or Drinking: Do not eat or drink anything while the film is dissolving to maximize absorption.
  • Disposal: Once the film is fully dissolved, avoid swallowing excess saliva; spit it out discreetly.

Sublingual Tablets

Suboxone sublingual tablets are also placed under the tongue for absorption, but they come in a solid pill form.

Placing the Tablet Under the Tongue

  • Positioning the Tablet: Carefully position the tablet under the tongue and avoid handling it excessively.
  • Proper Placement: Ensure that the tablet is placed in the center of the tongue’s underside for optimal absorption.
  • Avoid Moving the Tablet: Allow the tablet to rest in place until it fully dissolves.

Ensuring Complete Dissolution

  • Time to Dissolve: Suboxone tablets may take a few minutes to dissolve completely.
  • Avoid Swallowing: Resist the urge to swallow or chew the tablet to maximize its effectiveness.
  • Spit Out Residue: Spit out any remaining tablet residue once it has dissolved.

Best Practices

Following best practices while taking Suboxone is crucial for a successful treatment journey and maintaining sobriety.

Following the Prescribed Schedule

Adhering to the prescribed dosage schedule is vital to achieve the desired therapeutic effects of Suboxone.

Adhering to Regular Dosage Times

  • Consistency: Take Suboxone at the same time each day to establish a routine.
  • Setting Reminders: Use alarms or reminders to help you remember your dosage times.

Not Skipping or Double-Dosing

  • No Skipping Doses: Avoid skipping doses as it can lead to withdrawal symptoms and compromise the treatment’s effectiveness.
  • Avoid Double-Dosing: Taking extra doses is dangerous and can increase the risk of adverse effects.

Avoiding Certain Substances

While on Suboxone, it’s essential to be cautious with other substances to avoid potential interactions and risks.

Identifying Restricted Substances

  • Alcohol: Avoid consuming alcohol while on Suboxone as it can have adverse effects on the body.
  • Other Opioids: Steer clear of other opioids, as Suboxone may interact with them and reduce its efficacy.

Understanding Potential Interactions

  • Medications: Consult your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking to ensure they do not interact with Suboxone.
  • Over-the-Counter Drugs: Even seemingly harmless over-the-counter drugs can have interactions, so consult your doctor before taking them.

Dealing with Missed Doses

Missing a dose of Suboxone can be concerning, but there are appropriate steps to take if it happens.

What to Do When a Dose is Missed

  • Take It as Soon as Possible: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s almost time for the next scheduled dose.
  • Don’t Double Up: Never take two doses together to compensate for a missed one.

Avoiding Compensatory Dosing

  • Consult Your Healthcare Provider: If you miss doses frequently, discuss it with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.
  • Stick to the Plan: Follow your prescribed treatment plan to prevent further missed doses.

Potential Side Effects

As with any medication, Suboxone may have side effects. It’s essential to be aware of these and know when to seek medical attention.

Common Side Effects

Some individuals may experience mild side effects when starting Suboxone, which often improve over time.

Nausea and Vomiting

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to minimize nausea and prevent dehydration.
  • Small, Frequent Meals: Eat small, frequent meals to alleviate nausea and avoid heavy meals that can trigger vomiting.

Headache and Dizziness

  • Rest: Get enough rest to reduce the occurrence of headaches and dizziness.
  • Avoid Triggers: Identify and avoid triggers that may worsen headaches, such as bright lights or loud noises.

Severe Reactions and When to Seek Help

While rare, some individuals may experience severe reactions to Suboxone that require immediate medical attention.

Allergic Reactions

  • Recognizing Symptoms: Be aware of symptoms like rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, and trouble breathing, which may indicate an allergic reaction.
  • Seek Emergency Care: If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Respiratory Issues

  • Breathing Difficulties: If you experience difficulty breathing or slowed breathing, seek medical help promptly.
  • Inform Medical Professionals: Ensure that any healthcare providers treating you are aware of your Suboxone use to prevent potential drug interactions.

Duration of Treatment

The duration of Suboxone treatment varies for each individual and depends on several factors, including the severity of addiction and the progress made during recovery.

Tapering off Suboxone

Tapering, or gradually reducing the dosage of Suboxone, is a common approach when nearing the end of treatment.

Gradual Reduction of Dosage

  • Medical Supervision: Tapering should only be under medical supervision to ensure safety and effectiveness.
  • Slow and Steady: The dosage is reduced slowly over time to allow the body to adjust and minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Transitioning to Other Treatments

  • Individualized Approach: Some individuals may require ongoing medication-assisted treatment, while others may transition to other forms of therapy or support groups.
  • Continued Support: It’s essential to continue with counseling and support even after discontinuing Suboxone.

Support and Counseling

In addition to medication, support and counseling play a vital role in the success of Suboxone treatment.

Importance of Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy helps individuals identify triggers, develop coping strategies, and make positive behavioral changes.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Addressing Negative Thoughts: CBT helps individuals recognize and challenge negative thought patterns associated with substance use.
  • Building Coping Skills: Learn effective coping mechanisms to deal with stress and avoid relapse.

Contingency Management

  • Positive Reinforcement: This approach uses rewards to reinforce abstinence and encourage adherence to treatment plans.
  • Encouraging Healthy Choices: Rewards are given for achieving treatment goals and engaging in positive behaviors.

Joining Support Groups

Support groups offer a sense of community and understanding for individuals in recovery.

Benefits of Peer Support

  • Reducing Isolation: Being part of a supportive group can help individuals feel less isolated in their recovery journey.
  • Sharing Experiences: Group members can share their experiences, offer insights, and provide encouragement to one another.

Locating Support Groups

  • Online and In-Person: Support groups can be found both online and in local communities, making them accessible to many.
  • Professional Recommendations: Healthcare providers or counselors may recommend specific support groups based on individual needs.

Legal and Safety Considerations

When using Suboxone, certain legal and safety aspects need to be taken into account to ensure a smooth treatment process.

Driving and Operating Machinery

The use of Suboxone may affect one’s ability to drive or operate heavy machinery.

Impairment and Caution

  • Assessing Impairment: Be aware of how Suboxone affects your alertness and coordination before engaging in activities that require focus.
  • Consulting with a Healthcare Provider: Discuss any concerns about driving or operating machinery with your healthcare provider.

Following Local Regulations

  • Driving Laws: Understand the local laws and regulations regarding driving while on Suboxone treatment.
  • Workplace Policies: Familiarize yourself with workplace policies related to medication use.

Storing Suboxone Properly

Proper storage of Suboxone is essential to maintain its effectiveness and safety.

Temperature and Environment

  • Store at Room Temperature: Keep Suboxone at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and moisture.
  • Avoid Extreme Conditions: Do not store Suboxone in places with high humidity or extreme temperatures.

Keeping Out of Reach of Children

  • Childproof Storage: Ensure Suboxone is stored in child-resistant packaging and out of reach of children and pets.
  • Safe Disposal: Dispose of any unused or expired Suboxone safely and according to local guidelines.

Traveling with Suboxone

When traveling, certain considerations should be made to ensure uninterrupted Suboxone treatment.

Planning for Travel with Medication

  • Carry Prescription Documentation: When traveling, carry a copy of your Suboxone prescription and doctor’s contact information.
  • Proper Packaging: Ensure Suboxone is packed securely and in its original packaging to avoid any legal issues.

Avoiding Legal Issues

  • Research Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with the regulations of the destination regarding Suboxone and medication.
  • Declare Medication: If required, declare your medication at customs to avoid any misunderstandings.

Taking Suboxone is a critical step towards recovery for individuals with opioid addiction. By understanding the proper administration methods, best practices, potential side effects, and support options, individuals can make informed decisions and increase their chances of successful treatment. Remember to always follow medical advice and remain committed to your journey to a drug-free life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I take Suboxone without a prescription?

No, Suboxone is a prescription medication, and it should only be taken under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. It is illegal and unsafe to use Suboxone without a valid prescription.

2. Is Suboxone safe during pregnancy?

It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while on Suboxone treatment. They will assess the risks and benefits and make an informed decision based on your specific situation.

3. Can I drink alcohol while taking Suboxone?

Combining Suboxone with alcohol can have adverse effects and is not recommended. Alcohol can increase the risk of respiratory depression and other dangerous side effects.

4. How long does Suboxone stay in the system?

The duration of Suboxone in the body can vary based on factors such as dosage, individual metabolism, and the length of treatment. On average, it can be detected in urine for up to 3-4 days after the last dose.

5. Can I abruptly stop taking Suboxone?

Abruptly stopping Suboxone can lead to withdrawal symptoms and potentially trigger a relapse. It is essential to follow the prescribed tapering plan under medical supervision to discontinue the medication safely.

6. Are there any food or drug interactions with Suboxone?

Certain medications and substances can interact with Suboxone, affecting its effectiveness or causing adverse reactions. Always inform your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you are taking to avoid potential interactions.

7. How long will I need to be on Suboxone treatment?

The duration of Suboxone treatment can vary depending on individual progress and treatment goals. Some individuals may require short-term use, while others may benefit from long-term maintenance.

8. Can I take Suboxone if I am on other medications?

It’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, to avoid potential interactions. Your doctor will determine if Suboxone is safe to use alongside other medications.

9. What should I do if I experience severe side effects?

If you experience severe or concerning side effects while taking Suboxone, seek immediate medical attention. It’s essential to communicate any side effects to your healthcare provider to adjust the treatment plan if necessary.

10. Can Suboxone be used for pain management?

While Suboxone contains an opioid component, it is primarily used for opioid addiction treatment, not pain management. Consult your healthcare provider for appropriate pain management options if needed.