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Does Suboxone help with pain?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Jan 21, 2021.

Official Answer


Key Points

  • Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual film is not approved for use as a pain medication. Suboxone is used to treat narcotic (opiate) addiction (opioid use disorder). It is administered as a film under the tongue (sublingually) or in the cheek area (buccal use).
  • Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist (a narcotic), and naloxone, a pure opioid antagonist which blocks the effects of an opioid, including pain relief or feelings of well-being (euphoria) that can lead to opioid abuse.
  • There have been reports of deaths in people who used sublingual buprenorphine for pain relief at dosages that they could not tolerate (opioid-naive patients). Suboxone sublingual film is not appropriate for pain relief.

Do not switch from Suboxone sublingual film to other medicines that contain buprenorphine without talking with your doctor. The amount of buprenorphine in a dose of Suboxone sublingual film is not the same as the amount of buprenorphine in other medicines that contain buprenorphine. Do not stop taking Suboxone without talking to your doctor.

See Suboxone Dosage for detailed information on dosage and administration.

Other products that contain buprenorphine and are used for the treatment of opioid use disorder include:

  • Zubsolv: a brand name combination product of buprenorphine and naloxone, available as an orally disintegrating sublingual tablet, used to treat opioid use disorder. Generic options for buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets are available.
  • Sublocade: an extended-release buprenorphine injection (depot formulation) given once a month for the treatment of opioid use disorder. This product does not contain naloxone. No generic options for Sublocade are currently available.

Does buprenorphine treat pain?

Buprenorphine, when used by itself, does have pain-relieving effects, as it is an opioid.

For example, an extended-release, transdermal (skin patch) formulation of buprenorphine (brand name: Butrans) is approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe chronic (long-lasting) pain. Butrans is NOT to be used to treat acute pain on an as-needed basis.

Other available brand name products that only contain buprenorphine and are approved to be used for the relief of moderate-to-severe chronic pain include Belbuca (buprenorphine buccal film) and Buprenex (buprenorphine injection). Generic options for Buprenex are available.

These buprenorphine agents are for the daily management of pain severe enough to require around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate. They are NOT used to relieve acute pain quickly or on an as-needed basis.

See Buprenorphine Dosage for detailed information on buprenorphine dosage and administration.

This is not all the information you need to know about Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) for safe and effective use. Review the full Suboxone sublingual film information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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