Need-to-Knows About Suboxone

Suboxone, a drug approved for the treatment of opiate addiction recently emerged as a telling reveal in the ongoing investigation of music icon, Prince.

Questions abound about the pre-med student sent to rescue Prince and the Suboxone he was carrying which has now become a vital part of the investigation surrounding the singer’s death. It has also invoked more interest in the case as well as need-to-knows about Suboxone. According to scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. This drug has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to treat addictions to opioid such as Percocet and Heroin. Buprenorphine in Suboxone has also been classified as a Schedule III Controlled Substance because of its potential for abuse.

According NIDA Director Nora Volkow, studies suggest that patients addicted to prescription drugs can be effectively treated with Suboxone which work to wean patients off opiates once they start to experience withdrawal symptoms.  However, once the medication is discontinued, patients that do not receive other addiction intervention such as behavioral therapies and relapse prevention education and training typically have a high relapse rate.  Additionally, Volkow explains that when Suboxone is administered intravenously, as a way to get high, users can experience severe withdrawals.  These withdrawals however, also act as a deterrent to diverted use of Suboxone.   

Withdrawal from Suboxone

Suboxone withdrawals may include symptoms such as anxiety, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle rigidity, insomnia, fever and tremors among others.  These effects can range from mild to severe and in some cases require medical attention. Manufacturers of Suboxone have also issued a caveat that the drug has the potential to cause issues such as:

  • -Respiratory problems that can be life-threatening
  • -Overdose deaths particularly through intravenous administration
  • -Loss of consciousness or death if Suboxone use is combined with alcohol or other depressants
  • -Physical and psychological dependence if use becomes habituated.
  • -Severe opioid withdrawal syndrome.
  • -Infant opioid withdrawal symptoms if consumed by pregnant women.
  • -Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • -Heighten depressive moods that can lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Since the use of Suboxone with other drugs can cause fatal interactions, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention if any irregular reaction occurs following use of this drug with another substance.  

Suboxone Used for Addiction Treatment

Despite these warning and precautions, Suboxone is an effective pharmacological intervention when used appropriately. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 1.9 million people in the United States meet dependence criteria for prescription pain relievers. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more people die from prescription painkiller overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined. As such, proper Suboxone administration in safe, controlled environments where treatment is augmented with other treatment models such as behavioral therapy, relapse prevention education and training can effectively help to reduce cravings that drive prescription and heroin abuse.  

Treatment with Suboxone film has been approved for use in both induction and as a temporary maintenance treatment for opioid addiction in certain patients.  Suboxone should only be administered by a qualified physician or addiction treatment specialist. The doctor or treatment team will make a determination based on a number of variables relevant to the patient as to what constitutes an appropriate Suboxone treatment plan for the individual.

Treatment for people that have developed a dependence on Suboxone and other drugs of abuse typically commences with a medical detox procedure. This entails monitoring of the patient to address exacerbation of any life-threatening physical or psychological conditions. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms often develop slowly and can cause a relapse if the patient does not have appropriate assistance to complete the procedure.

Like any other chemical substance, care must be taken when consuming Suboxone.  Misuse of any drug has the potential to be harmful.  



If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.