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What is buprenorphine (Suboxone)?

Written byDesiree Smith

What is Buprenorphine (Suboxone)?

Suboxone Detoxification Program

Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is a medication that is used to treat opioid addiction in the privacy of a physician office or outpatient setting. Buprenorphine (Suboxone) can be taken discreetly from home, by prescription, which makes it different from other forms of managing opioid addiction, such as methadone. The pharmacological and safety profile of buprenorphine (Suboxone) makes it an attractive treatment option for patients that are addicted to opioids.

Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is different from other opioids in that it is a partial opioid agonist which means there is…

  • Less feeling “high” and physical dependence
  • Lower risk for misuse
  • Relatively mild withdrawal symptoms
  • At the right dose buprenorphine (Suboxone) treatment may:
  • Keep you from feeling symptoms of opioid withdrawal
  • Decrease cravings for opioids
  • Reduce illicit opioid use
  • Block the effects of other opioids
  • Help patients stay in treatment

As the The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment reports: Buprenorphine ('bu-pre-'nôr-feen) (C29H41NO4) is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine, an alkaloid of the poppy Papaver somniferum. Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is an opioid partial agonist. What does all that mean?? This means that, although Buprenorphine is an opioid, its maximal effects are less than those of strong opioids like heroin and methadone. At low doses Buprenorphine (Suboxone) enables opioid-addicted individuals to stop the misuse of opioids without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine (Suboxone) has what is called a “ceiling effect” meaning when it is at its most effective dosage level; taking more will not result in “feeling high.” For this reason it carries a lower risk of abuse, addiction, and side effects compared to stronger opioid drugs. In fact, if Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is taken with a strong opioid (like heroin or methadone) it can actually block the effects of those strong opioids and help treat withdrawal symptoms!

So to sum it all up: Buprenorphine (Suboxone) can decrease a person’s dreadful withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are the reason several people tend to relapse. It also reduces the ability for someone to get “high” if they do take a stronger opioid. By decreasing those cravings and withdrawals, Buprenorphine (Suboxone) can put people on the path to recovery with the helping hand of science and the providers at iTrust Wellness Group!


U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Talk Paper, T02-38, October 8, 2002, Subutex and Suboxone approved to treat opiate dependence

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 40. DHHS Publication No.

(SMA) 04-3939. Rockville, Md: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004.

The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment. (2018). Retrieved from

Walsh SL, Eissenberg T. The clinical pharmacology of buprenorphine: extrapolating from the laboratory to the clinic. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003;70(suppl 2):S13-S27

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