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How to Help a Suboxone Addict

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Help for Suboxone Addiction

Suboxone is a medication approved for treating opioid addiction. When taken as prescribed, it can be a beneficial pharmaceutical component of a substance abuse recovery program aimed at managing addictions to opioids like:

  • Heroin.
  • Morphine.
  • Pain relievers like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Although it contains an opioid component, due to its specific chemical properties, Suboxone does not pose as serious a risk of abuse as most opioid drugs. However, misuse of Suboxone – e.g., using the drug via unapproved routes of administration or in doses the exceed that prescribed – will magnify its abuse potential.

If you are unable to stop using Suboxone or know someone battling an addiction, treatment is available. Learn more about how to find the right addiction treatment at .

Is It Addictive?


Suboxone consists of two products: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an type of opioid, so it is possible to abuse it. Buprenorphine’s effects last for between 24 and 72 hours and include:

  • Decreased sensations of pain.
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Slower breathing.
  • Lower energy and motivation.
  • Periods of fading in and out of alertness.

An important effect of most opioids is the feeling of euphoria their use may triggers. Euphoria accompanies the release of a chemical called dopamine in the body. When someone experiences the high associated with dopamine, they will be more likely to repeat the behavior that initiated that feeling. The buprenorphine in Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, which means that while the potential to elicit a rewarding euphoria exists, it is there to a much lesser degree than many other abused opioids.

As an additional safeguard, the naloxone component of Suboxone works to counter a fully-realized high, and minimize the risk of overdose. Despite these measures, intentional misuse of the drug can still result in pronounced effects and contribute to the development of addictive behaviors. Furthermore, naloxone does nothing to block the depressant effects of other substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. Combined use of these substances with Suboxone is extremely ill-advised, and can end in:

  • Overdose.
  • Coma.
  • Death.

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

One predominant sign of addiction is that you keep taking the drug regardless of the negative side effects and consequences to your life. These effects can involve anything from health issues to problems with your family and social life.

You might:

  • Begin to perform poorly at school or work.
  • Steal or get in trouble with the law.
  • Lie and attempt to get Suboxone from illicit sources.
  • Go to multiple doctors to get more of it.
  • Take Suboxone via methods not intended or recommended.
  • Experience increased conflicts with friends and family due to your use.

Am I Addicted?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides diagnostic criteria for opioid use disorders. The following are some of the criteria which may indicate you have a problem with Suboxone use:

  • Taking the substance for longer duration or in larger amounts than intended.
  • Craving the drug.
  • Giving up your once-enjoyed activities to obtain and use Suboxone.
  • Using Suboxone in situations that pose a physical hazard (e.g., operating machinery).
  • Having to take more and more to feel the same effect (secondary to the development of tolerance).
  • Spending an excess amount of time trying to get it, use it, or recover from using it.

Addiction Treatment

Suboxone addiction help or treatment is designed to help you get off the drug in a safe and controlled manner. This stage is known as detox, and it involves the gradual removal of all traces of the drug from your body. Many detox programs include various medically assisted approaches to reduces the severity of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms may that present when your body has first developed a dependence on the substance, and then has that substance suddenly stopped. The concept of physical dependence describes that point when your body has adapted to the drug so much that being without it feels uncomfortable and strange.

Following a period of detox, you will likely begin addiction treatment that will include counseling or other therapy to help you understand why you ended up abusing Suboxone. By understanding the underlying cause of your drug addiction, you can take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Whether the contributing factors are stress at work, an underlying issue with pain, or family problems, you’ll learn not to turn to Suboxone abuse as a form of self-medication. Some centers encourage family members to attend therapy to help reinforce the lessons learned and to support you.


Therapy can occur at a number of different environments depending on the needs of the person. They include:

These formal treatment styles, along with informal treatment like support groups, can work to establish relapse prevention plans that focus on identifying triggers of use while planning an effective course of action to engage in when cravings are high.

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

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Getting help for a drug addiction has never been easier. Simply call us at today to see how we can help you.

How to Help Someone with Alcohol or Illicit Drug Addiction

Help for Prescription Drug Abuse

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Patrick Condron, M.Sc., M.A.C., is an addiction specialist and drug and alcohol counselor. He is Executive Director of Lazarus House, Inc., a transitional residential program for men and women who continue to work on their recovery towards independent living.
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