Is Suboxone Addictive? Examining the Risks

Suboxone is a prescription medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. It comprises two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Doctors often use it as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan, including counseling and behavioral therapies.

However, despite its positive medical applications, Suboxone itself can lead to addiction if abused or taken without proper guidance. In this article, we will explore how Suboxone addiction develops, examining its telltale signs, adverse effects, and available treatment options.

Key Takeaways

Suboxone, a prescription drug, is used for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). Here is what you need to know:

  • Despite its therapeutic uses, Suboxone comes with a high potential for addiction due to its opioid components.
  • Identifying the signs is vital for early intervention and support in addressing potential Suboxone dependence.
  • Suboxone addiction can negatively impact different aspects of a person’s life, requiring comprehensive treatment.

Reach out to The Recovery Team at (800) 817-1247 today to welcome a life free of substance use disorder (SUD).

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone, an FDA-approved medication, is primarily used in the treatment of opioid dependence. It’s a combination of two key ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. This combination provides a stabilizing influence during the challenging process of breaking free from opioid dependency.

Here is more to these two components:


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it activates the opioid receptors in the brain but to a lesser extent than full opioid agonists like heroin or methadone. Buprenorphine helps to lessen opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It has a “ceiling effect,” which means that beyond a certain dose, its effects do not increase, making it less likely to cause the same euphoria and respiratory depression seen with other opioids.


Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist, which means it blocks the effects of opioids. Naloxone is added to Suboxone to deter misuse of the medication. When taken as directed (sublingually, under the tongue), the naloxone has little to no effect. However, if someone were to attempt to misuse Suboxone by injecting it, the naloxone would become active and block the effects of opioids, potentially precipitating withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone is usually prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that includes counseling and behavioral therapy. Its goal is to help individuals reduce or eliminate their dependence on opioids while managing the symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.

Suboxone’s Addiction Potential: What You Should Know

Like any medication, Suboxone carries the potential for addiction, mainly when not used as prescribed. Here’s why Suboxone can become addictive and the factors influencing its addictive potential:

How Suboxone Can Become Addictive

Suboxone contains buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist. This means it activates the opioid receptors in the brain but to a lesser extent than full opioids, providing relief from cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

However, this partial activation can also result in a level of dependence. When taken consistently, the body may develop a reliance on Suboxone, and abruptly stopping it can lead to symptoms of withdrawal.

This physical dependence can create psychological dependence as well, as individuals may fear the return of intense withdrawal symptoms, fostering a reliance on Suboxone for emotional comfort.

Factors Influencing Suboxone Addiction

Several factors contribute to the potential for Suboxone addiction. The dosage and duration of Suboxone use play a significant role; prolonged use or higher doses can increase the risk of dependence.

In addition, individual differences in metabolism and sensitivity to opioids influence how the body responds to Suboxone. Mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression, can also contribute, as individuals may turn to Suboxone for emotional relief.

Moreover, external factors such as peer pressure or easy access to Suboxone can contribute to its misuse and addiction. Lack of a comprehensive treatment plan, including counseling and therapy, may leave individuals solely relying on Suboxone, enhancing the risk of addiction.

Signs of Suboxone Addiction

Addiction to Suboxone can manifest through various signs, including physical, psychological, and behavioral indicators. Here are some common signs associated with Suboxone addiction:

Physical Signs

The physical manifestations of Suboxone addiction often surface through:

  • Physical Dependence: An increased tolerance to Suboxone, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects.
  • Physical Withdrawal Symptoms: When not taking Suboxone, experiencing withdrawal symptoms like nausea, muscle aches, sweating, or insomnia.
  • Changes in Appearance: Neglecting personal hygiene, sudden weight changes, or physical deterioration.
  • Changes in Vital Signs: Irregular heartbeat, fluctuations in blood pressure, or changes in respiratory rate.

Psychological Signs

Beyond the physical symptoms, the psychological toll of Suboxone addiction might manifest in the form of:

  • Cravings and Obsession: An intense desire to use Suboxone and obsessive thoughts about obtaining it.
  • Mood Swings: Rapid changes in mood, increased irritability, or unexplained emotional shifts.
  • Anxiety or Depression: Persistent feelings of anxiety, sadness, or hopelessness.
  • Mental Fog or Confusion: Difficulty concentrating, memory problems, or mental confusion might be evident.

Behavioral Signs

Recognizing Suboxone addiction also involves paying attention to behavioral shifts, such as:

  • Social Withdrawal: Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Financial Issues: Spending a significant amount of money on Suboxone or experiencing financial problems due to drug use.
  • Secrecy: Hiding Suboxone use from friends or family, being secretive about activities and whereabouts.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Missing work, school, or neglecting familial or social responsibilities.

Identifying these signs early on can be vital in seeking help for Suboxone addiction. If you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs, seeking professional help from healthcare providers or addiction specialists is highly recommended.

Understanding the Risk: Suboxone Addiction Dangers

Suboxone addiction poses significant risks, impacting various aspects of an individual’s life. Let’s have a look at the potential dangers associated with addiction to Suboxone:

Effect on Physical Health

Addiction to Suboxone can detrimentally affect physical health. Prolonged misuse may lead to respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems like constipation, or hormonal imbalances. In severe cases, it can cause liver damage or heart complications. Additionally, dependency on Suboxone can result in weakened immunity, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses.

Effect on Mental Health

Suboxone addiction can also profoundly impact mental health. Chronic misuse might exacerbate or trigger mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or mood disorders. Individuals might experience heightened levels of stress or paranoia, affecting their ability to manage daily stressors effectively. Moreover, the emotional toll of addiction can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, or low self-worth.

Effect on Relationships and Everyday Life

Suboxone addiction can strain relationships and disrupt daily life. Individuals might prioritize obtaining and using the medication over responsibilities, leading to neglect of family, work, school, or social obligations. Trust issues might arise due to secretive behavior or dishonesty about substance use. Maintaining stable employment or academic performance or fulfilling social commitments can become challenging, impacting the overall quality of life.

Overcoming Suboxone Addiction: Effective Treatments

Suboxone addiction treatment involves various approaches aimed at supporting individuals in their journey toward recovery. Here are some of the most commonly used medical, psychological, and holistic strategies tailored to address Suboxone addiction:

Medical Detoxification

Medical detoxification involves supervised withdrawal from Suboxone in a controlled environment. Healthcare professionals monitor the process, managing withdrawal symptoms to ensure safety and comfort. Detoxification may be the initial step before entering a comprehensive treatment program.

Rehabilitation Programs

Rehabilitation programs offer structured treatment plans tailored to individual needs. Inpatient care or outpatient programs provide therapy, counseling, and education about addiction. These programs focus on addressing the underlying causes of Suboxone abuse, teaching coping mechanisms, and supporting individuals through recovery.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies play a pivotal part in treating Suboxone addiction by addressing underlying behavioral patterns and triggers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), and contingency management (CM) are some approaches used to help individuals modify their thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes toward substance use.

Support Groups

Support groups, such as 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), offer a sense of community and shared experience. Peer support provides encouragement and understanding, promoting accountability and motivation. Attending support groups can be an integral part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Holistic Approaches

Holistic interventions focus on treating the whole person by addressing physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Activities such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture can complement traditional treatments, promoting relaxation and stress reduction. Holistic approaches recognize the interconnectedness of various aspects of life and strive to create a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

The Recovery Team: Guiding Your Path to Recovery

At our treatment facility, we’re all about crafting personalized journeys toward lasting recovery. Whether it’s through our residential care or outpatient programs, we tailor our approach to fit your unique needs.

With therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), expert medication management, and engaging recreational activities, we provide a comprehensive approach to your recovery. Plus, we focus on involving your loved ones in the treatment because support makes all the difference.

Call (800) 817-1247 for more information.