Suboxone for Heroin DetoxificationSuboxone is the brand name of a drug (controlled substance) that combines Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine is a narcotic Opioid and Naloxone is an Opioid antagonist added to the medication to discourage the use of the drug intravenously. Although Buprenorphine has been around since the 1970’s, Buprenorphine by itself (Subutex) and Buprenorphine and Naloxone (Suboxone) were first approved for the treatment of Opioid addiction in the US in 2002. Physicians are limited to the number of patients they are allowed treat at a time and must complete special training in order to be allowed to prescribe or treat patients with Subutex or Suboxone. This can sometimes make it difficult to find doctors who prescribe these medications or have openings for new patients.

Suboxone comes in different strengths or doses. The most common seen is 8mg/2mg, meaning 8 milligrams of Buprenorphine and 2 milligrams of Naloxone. It also comes in 2mg/0.5mg and 12mg/3mg. Suboxone can come in pill form but most commonly comes in the form of a dissolvable film. Both are typically orange and have a type of tang smell and flavor. Suboxone can be taken sublingually, meaning dissolved under the tongue, or through buccal administration, meaning dissolved in the cheek. Suboxone is a powerful narcotic and can cause serious and even life threatening side effects. These side effects can be intensified by using sedatives or other drugs or alcohol while taking Suboxone.

Common Side Effects:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Slowed Breathing
  • Numb Mouth
  • Constipation
  • Painful Tongue
  • Redness of the Mouth
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sleepiness

Suboxone is not a miracle drug that magically cures opioid addiction. It itself can lead to opioid dependence and addiction. Suboxone should only be administered under the supervision of a physician. When starting a Suboxone taper it is important that the patient be in active withdrawal. If Suboxone is administered too soon it can cause precipitated withdrawal. Precipitated withdrawal is like opioid withdrawal except it is more intense and comes on suddenly.

Signs of precipitated withdrawal:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety/Panic Attach
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Muscle and Joint Pains
  • Unable to Sit Still/Fidgeting
  • Insomnia
  • Uncontrollable Yawning
  • Runny Nose/Sniffles
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Elevated Vital Signs/Increases Blood Pressure/Increased Heart Rate/Heavy or Labored Breathing


Suboxone is typically used to treat Opiate or Opioid withdrawal. It is given as a taper, meaning less and less of the drug is given to ease the patient off and into sobriety. A typical taper lasts anywhere from 7 to 14 days and typically starts with doses ranging from 4mg to 12mg with the final doses being 1mg or 2mg. The exact length of the taper and doses are determined by a couple of factors. The first factor being withdrawal symptoms usually measured by a Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale or COWS. The second factor being the amount of Opiates or Opioids the patient was using as well as the length of time the patient has been using them. Some doctors have been known to prescribe Suboxone as a maintenance drug, meaning they continue to give the patient Suboxone indefinitely. This is typically done in the name of harm reduction. The idea is that a supervised program is less harmful than IV Heroin use or unsupervised street drugs.

It is important to remember that Suboxone is a serious and dangerous drug. It is a narcotic and when used improperly can lead to serious consequences and even death. Using Suboxone as a detox medication can be a very effective way to combat the symptoms of opiate and opioid withdrawal although it is imperative that person seek help from a certified professional or facility like Bay Area Recovery Center.  Under no circumstances should someone try to detox themselves.  It is very important to only take Suboxone under the supervision of a physician. We have successfully treated the chemical dependent for over 20 years.  Let us provide you with help you need, call us now (713) 999-0116 or (281) 853-8715

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Bay Area Recovery Center has successfully treated individuals dependent on drugs and alcohol for over 20 years.  People need to know treatment does work and there is life after addiction.  Let us use our experience and expertise to develop a detox and treatment plan that is personalized to your situation.  The illness of addiction is not something you or your family should have to go through alone.  We can help. Call us now (713) 999-0116 or (281) 853-8715.

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