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Side Effects of Suboxone®

Suboxone®, a medication made up of the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is a brand-name prescription drug often used to help treat those with opioid use disorder. It’s dispensed as an oral film that is placed either under the tongue (sublingual) or between the gums and cheek (buccal), where it then dissolves to take effect. Those who are treating opioid use disorder will experience Suboxone® differently from those who are taking it without medical supervision, causing the side effects to vary depending on dose and intended use.

Prescription Side Effects:

Those who are beginning opioid addiction treatment with Suboxone® may experience a range of mild side-effects, the most common being:

  • Anxiety or irritability

  • Insomnia

  • Headaches

  • Constipation or irregular stool

  • Depression or changes in mood

  • Excessive sweating

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

  • Burning sensation on tongue

  • Mouth redness

These side effects should only last several days or weeks. Any discomfort experienced for more extended periods should be discussed with a doctor or medical provider. There are more severe side effects of Suboxone® that can be fatal or life-threatening such as:

  • Breathing problems

  • Anaphylaxis or allergic reaction

  • Hormonal or adrenal issues

  • Liver damage

  • Coma

Allergic reactions to Suboxone® will most often cause immediate labored breathing or inflammation of the airways, skin rashes or hives, as well as swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. This reaction can be fatal, and emergency services should be contacted immediately as well as the use of an EpiPen if available. Many physicians or treatment facilities provide the first dose of medication while the patient is being supervised to minimize the risks of these uncommon allergic reactions.

Those who have a history of lung disease, enlarged prostate or bladder, kidney disease, abnormal spine curvature, gallbladder or thyroid conditions, head injury, brain tumors, or seizures should speak with their doctor before taking the medication.

Suboxone® Misuse

Unauthorized possession of Suboxone® can occur when prescriptions are stolen or sold as illicit drugs. Because buprenorphine is technically an opioid, Suboxone® can be misused to some extent for its opioid effects, even though the naloxone is used to block the impact of other opioid substances. Buprenorphine does have a ceiling effect, limiting the effect on the individual regardless of the amount of medication taken. Those who do not already have a high opiate tolerance can become dependent on the effects of Suboxone® and experience adverse effects, especially when mixed with alcohol or drugs that cause sedation or shallowed breathing like benzodiazepines or alcohol, sometimes leading to overdose. People who abruptly stop taking Suboxone® may experience withdrawal symptoms and are recommended to seek detox or taper their usage slowly.

Other Known Complications

  • Adrenal insufficiency: Suboxone® can lower cortisol hormone levels after several weeks of use, resulting in nausea, vomiting, loose stool, appetite loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, and depression.

  • Liver Damage: People with hepatitis or other liver enzyme problems may be at a higher risk of developing liver damage with the use of Suboxone® and may experience stomach pains, fatigue, and jaundice or yellowing of the skin or eyes.

  • Withdrawal: The antagonist effects of Suboxone, it prevents any effects of opioid drugs. People who use the medicine, among other opioids will feel immediate withdrawal symptoms when using simultaneously.

All medications have potential complications which can be minimized by working closely with your provider to ensure medications or existing medical conditions are discussed and considered when determining a treatment plan with Suboxone®. It can be a life-saving medication when properly monitored by a medical provider.

For more information or to begin treatment, contact us today.


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