What is Suboxone Treatment?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2019
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Suboxone treatment is also called opiate detox. It's the administration of the drug suboxone, which is made up of buprenorphine and naloxine and given to some opiate addicts as a gradual, quite painless withdrawal method. A doctor must prescribe the proper dosage of suboxone for each individual. Suboxone treatment is done on an outpatient basis in a doctor's office in many cases. Each suboxone dose is placed under the recovering addict's tongue.

It usually takes about an hour for the dissolved suboxone dose to work so that the patient's withdrawal symptoms feel under control. Taking the suboxone, which is a partial opiate, is meant to replace an addict's former drug, such as heroin, hydrocodone or oxycodone. This transitioning part of suboxone treatment is called induction; it typically lasts up to a week. Regular urine screening tests to check if the recovering addict is still using opiates are often conducted.


When the suboxone is the only drug in the patient's system, the doctor then prescribes the lowest dosage possible that will keep withdrawal symptoms, such as body aches, chills and vomiting, from occurring. At this point in suboxone treatment, a recovering addict will either be slowly eased off of the doses or placed on a long-term maintenance plan. Suboxone maintenance treatment involves the lowest possible dose to stop withdrawal symptoms; it may be prescribed for a few months or years. Maintenance drug therapy must be monitored by a doctor to ensure its effectiveness as well as prevent dependence on the suboxone. Since suboxone is only a partial opiate, dependence problems with it are rare.

Suboxone as a maintenance medication is often used as part of a drug addiction treatment program that includes either inpatient or outpatient counseling. Inpatient counseling may be conducted in a group situation in addition to individual sessions; the recovering addicts live in a rehabilitation center for several weeks or more. Outpatient drug treatment counseling may be either individual or group-focused. Suboxone treatment combined with counseling is often considered one of the most successful tools used for long-term recovery from opiate abuse.

Before a doctor recommends suboxone treatment for an opiate addict, he or she will order a series of blood tests as well as ask the individual questions relating to specific drug use. The doctor will require the recovering addict to be honest about the extent of his or her use of drugs in order to prescribe the best treatment. Urine screening tests may be administered so that the doctor can have an accurate idea of what drugs are in the patient's body.


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