how does suboxone work

When you or your loved one is living with an opioid use disorder, it can be tricky to know how best to treat it. Recovery seems like a far-off destination and, at times, even an impossibility from where life is now.

There may be feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness. There may be challenging situations that make you or your loved one want to use substances even more right now, like relationship problems, difficulties with performance at school or work, and food or housing insecurity. Recovery is possible, but having the right tools in place to get there is essential. 

One of the tools that may be beneficial to you or your loved one is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is the use of medication in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies used to treat substance use disorders.

A study published in 2010 found that abstinence (recovery) rates exceeded 60% in long-term follow-up of medication-assisted therapy for dependence on opioid pain relievers. Also, after patients were stabilized on and then tapered off of Suboxone, dependence on pain relievers dropped below 20% at 18 months, and below 10% at 42 months.

Read on to learn more about Suboxone, how Suboxone works in the body, the possible benefits of taking Suboxone, the common misconceptions about Suboxone, how common opioid use disorder and opioid deaths are in Arizona, and Suboxone treatment for opioid use disorder available at Pinnacle Peak Recovery in Scottsdale, Arizona.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication that helps treat opioid use disorder. Examples of opioids include heroin and prescription pain relievers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl.

What Is the Difference Between Suboxone and Other Opioids?

Buprenorphine is the active drug in Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone). Buprenorphine is a partial agonist. An agonist is a drug that activates certain receptors in the brain. A partial agonist works kind of like an opioid, but its effect is weaker than full agonists. 

Full agonist opioids activate the opioid receptors in the brain fully, which results in the person experiencing the full opioid effect or “high.” Examples of full agonists are heroin, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, and morphine.

One of the benefits of Suboxone is that it has a “ceiling effect.” The ceiling effect refers to where a drug’s impact on the body plateaus. At the plateau or ceiling point, taking higher doses of a substance does not increase its effect. This means that even with more doses of Suboxone, there is not an increased opioid effect or “high” that occurs. This ceiling effect reduces the risk of misuse, dependency, and side effects.

Suboxone also reduces the effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms and minimizes cravings for other opioids. Suboxone aids the person taking it in meeting their goal of abstaining from other opioids like heroin and painkillers.

How Does Suboxone Differ From Methadone or Vivitrol?

Suboxone, methadone, and Vivitrol are all effective medications used to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms, treat opioid use disorder, and prevent relapse. 

Suboxone has been shown to have similar efficacy (effectiveness) to methadone when treatment conditions are similar and when patients take higher doses of Suboxone.

Oral naltrexone (Vivitrol) has been established as less effective in comparison with buprenorphine, which is the active drug in Suboxone. Rates of relapse for oral naltrexone (Vivitrol) were three times higher than the relapse rate for patients on buprenorphine maintenance.

Suboxone Alone vs. Suboxone with Behavioral Health Interventions

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), regardless of what setting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is provided in, it is more effective when counseling and other behavioral health therapies are included with Suboxone to provide patients with a whole-person approach.

How to Make the Most of Your Suboxone Treatment

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests that while you’re taking Suboxone, you do not stop taking it, even when you are feeling better. If Suboxone is stopped abruptly, you may have withdrawal symptoms, and this can increase your risk for relapse. It is important to take Suboxone as prescribed by your medical provider.

Avoid drinking alcohol, using sedatives, taking other opioid pain medications (codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine), or using illegal drugs while you are taking Suboxone. The combination of Suboxone with other drugs may increase adverse effects (sedation, overdose, death) of the medication.

Possible Benefits of Taking Suboxone

According to an article titled “Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions,” by Dr. Jennifer R. Velander, there is evidence for using buprenorphine, which is the active drug in Suboxone.

Buprenorphine significantly lowers the risk of mortality (death) and harmful outcomes. Buprenorphine was found to be superior to detox alone in terms of keeping people in treatment, adverse outcomes, and relapse rates.

Those that have maintained buprenorphine use report having significantly improved quality-of-life ratings. People using buprenorphine also have reduced rates of HIV and hepatitis C transmission (giving disease to others) compared with abstinence-based therapy or detoxification.

Suboxone Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder at Pinnacle Peak Recovery

There is Suboxone treatment for opioid use disorder at Pinnacle Peak Recovery. Pinnacle Peak Recovery offers comprehensive addiction treatment, including detox, rehab, medication-assisted treatment (Suboxone), mental health services, and outpatient programming.

In therapy, we use evidence-based treatment methods such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is evidence-based for treating a wide range of disorders, including substance use disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). DBT teaches important skills such as mindfulness, emotion regulation skills, and interpersonal communication skills.

In addition to DBT, we offer a host of therapeutic approaches to best meet the needs of clients. We offer equine therapy, experiential therapy, fitness therapy, holistic therapy, individual therapy, meditation, therapeutic recreation, and yoga therapy.

Reach Out to Pinnacle Peak Recovery to Begin Suboxone Treatment

If you or your loved one is living with opioid use disorder, there may be a real benefit to pursuing a medication-assisted treatment option like Suboxone. 

At Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we are ready to listen to your concerns and provide you with recommendations for treatment to allow you to achieve success. Please contact us today at 866-377-4761.



How long does it take Suboxone to work?

After the first dose of Suboxone is taken, it usually takes 20 to 45 minutes to feel its effects. There is typically a 1- to 3-hour waiting period before taking the second dose of Suboxone.

Most people will feel much better by the end of their first day taking Suboxone. Contact your healthcare provider if you are still feeling withdrawal symptoms or feel like using other opioids.

Does Suboxone help your mood?

According to the findings of a research study, low doses of buprenorphine reduce responses to negative emotional stimuli in healthy adults, and buprenorphine may have antidepressant properties.

When should I take Suboxone?

A person typically has to wait 12 to 24 hours after last using opioids before they start taking Suboxone as a treatment for opioid use disorder. The exact length of time between the end of opioid use and the start of taking Suboxone depends on the type of opioid that was used.

It is always best to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan to meet your unique needs.

Pinnacle Peak Recovery