Is Suboxone an opiate / narcotic?
- Suboxone is a two-ingredient drug that contains an opioid (or narcotic) called buprenorphine and the opioid antagonist naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist added to buprenorphine to block the effects of the opioid to help prevent abuse of Suboxone.
- Suboxone is only used to treat opioid dependence and is not approved for use as a pain medication.
- Suboxone is available as a film that dissolves under your tongue (sublingual) or in your cheek-gum area (buccal).
Suboxone is approved by the FDA to treat opioid dependence, also called opioid use disorder, which is addiction to opioid drugs, including illegal drugs like heroin and prescription narcotic pain medicines. It is used in addition to a treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy.
Suboxone contains two medicines that work in different ways.
- Buprenorphine is classified as a partial agonist and works at the mu-opioid receptor. A partial agonist activates the opioid receptor less than a full agonist (like oxycodone or morphine).
- Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist that competes with and displaces opioids at opioid receptor sites in the body. It is often added to drugs used for opioid dependence to help prevent abuse of the product.
Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) comes as a film that dissolves under your tongue (sublingual) or in your cheek-gum area (buccal). The brand name Suboxone sublingual tablets have been discontinued by the manufacturer, but are still available as a generic option.
Other medicines used for opioid use disorder that contain both naloxone and buprenorphine are:
- Zubsolv (a sublingual tablet)
- generic forms of buprenorphine and naloxone (sublingual tablets, film)
The brand name products Bunavail, Cassipa and Suboxone tablets (not the film) have been discontinued from the U.S. market.
Both buprenorphine or naloxone can be used as single agents if they are prescribed by a healthcare provider in that manner. Buprenorphine as a single drug is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain or opioid addiction. Naloxone (Narcan) as a single drug is approved for the treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose.
This is not all the information you need to know about Suboxone for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Suboxone information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your health care provider.
- Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual film, for sublingual or buccal use. [Package Insert]. Indivior Inc. North Chesterfield, VA. Accessed Feb. 16, 2021 at https://www.suboxone.com/pdfs/prescribing-information.pdf
Related medical questions
- How long does Suboxone stay in your system?
- How long does Suboxone block opiates?
- Does Suboxone show up on a drug test?
- How long does Suboxone withdrawal last?
- What happens if you take opiates on Suboxone?
- How long should you wait before taking Suboxone?
- Does Suboxone help with pain?
- How long does it take for Suboxone to start working?
- Is buprenorphine the same as Suboxone?
- Can you overdose on Suboxone?
- Subutex vs Suboxone: What's the difference between them?
- Suboxone Information for Consumers
- Suboxone prescribing info & package insert (for Health Professionals)
- Side Effects of Suboxone (detailed)