Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid dependence, containing buprenorphine and naloxone. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million people suffer from opioid dependence. Buprenorphine and naloxone, formulated as Suboxone, are used to treat this dependence.
Buprenorphine is considered a “partial opioid agonist,” meaning that it produces a milder form of the effects produced by opioids (which are “full opioid agonists”). It essentially fills the brain’s opioids receptors without producing the same high as full opioids. One of the advantages of using Suboxone is that it cannot be taken to achieve a full opioid effect, making it more difficult to abuse than other forms of medication-assisted treatment, such as methadone.
Added to Suboxone is naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist.
Unlike methadone, which can only be dispensed from specialized addiction clinics, Suboxone can be prescribed in a doctor’s office. Only about 10 percent of people who suffer from opioid dependence are being treated for it, according to WHO. Suboxone increases treatment options for those who may not have accessibility to many options.
Suboxone has been shown to be an effective treatment option. When individuals in a study conducted by Richard D. Blondell, MD, and colleagues were enrolled in either an opioid discontinuation program or an opioid replacement program, use of buprenorphine in the replacement program predicted better adherence to the treatment protocol.