How Does Suboxone Treat Opiate Addiction?

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Do you have an opioid addiction? Are you considering your treatment options? If so, you are probably aware of medication assisted treatment (MAT). The classic medication in this scenario is methadone.

You have probably heard all of the horror stories of methadone treatment. People get addicted to it and end up hooked on methadone. People overdose. People have to go to disgusting methadone clinics to get their daily dose. The reality is that methadone, when used as prescribed, does a wonderful job of treating opioid addiction. However, the stigma remains.

If the idea of medically assisted treatment appeals to you, but you feel a little iffy about taking methadone, you may find that one of the more recently released medications offers you what you need.

If you are interested in any type of MAT, the folks at have exactly what you need. They can direct you to information and to treatment that meets your criteria. Give us a call at 800-584-3274.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment is a proven method for helping people with opioid addiction rehabilitate themselves. Medication alone is not the only component of this variety of treatment. There are three components:

  • Medication
  • Counseling
  • Support from loved ones

When it comes to the medication, the National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the options available:

  • agonists, e.g., methadone (dolophine or methadose), which activate opioid receptors
  • partial agonists, e.g., buprenorphine (subutex, suboxone), which also activate opioid receptors but produce a diminished response
  • antagonists, e.g., naltrexone (depade, revia, vivitrol), which block the receptor and interfere with the rewarding effects of opioids

Of these, partial agonists—like suboxone—show the most promise.



Suboxone eliminates cravings and withdrawal symptoms for 24 hours.

In 2002, the FDA approved the use of suboxone for the treatment of opioid addiction.

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine— partial opioid agonist—and naloxone—a medication that blocks the effects of opioid medication—such as pain relief or euphoria—that lead to opioid abuse.

What Is a Partial Opioid Agonist?

Before we get into the specifics, you have to think of your brain having all of these opioid receptors. Think of them as dimmers that opioids can operate. They can switch the light all the way up when you get high or they can be pitch black when you go through withdrawal.

For example, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, heroin and methadone are all full opioid agonists. They switch that dimmer up until lights floods out everywhere.

A partial opioid agonist—like buprenorphine—is an opioid that emits less of an effect than a full opioid when it connects to an opioid receptor in your brain. Buprenorphine turns the light up just enough to make everything visible but not up all the way. Buprenorphine makes the brain think it is experiencing a full opioid like oxycodone or heroin, and this soothes withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with the use of a problem opioid.

How Long Does It Last?

You are in luck because suboxone is a long-acting form of MAT; it remains on the brain’s opiate receptors for roughly 24 hours. It keeps the light gently shining. Plus, when it is occupying the receptor, the full opioid agonists can’t access them. Nothing can come along and get the light turned all the way up because the suboxone has its hand on the dimmer.

Every time a dose of suboxone is taken, you experience a 24 hour period without opioid cravings. If you use a full agonist within 24 hours of taking suboxone, it won’t work. You won’t be able to get high or get any pain relief.

You can use the 24 hours of relief to really focus on your recovery.

I know that all this talk of agonists and receptors can be confusing. But, brains are pretty complicated stuff and so is addiction.

Basically, suboxone controls withdrawal, limits cravings, and prevents your body from getting high for 24 hours. It really is amazing. If you like the idea of medication assisted treatment with suboxone, call at 800-584-3274.

Why Is Opiate Addiction Treated with Opiates?

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