Can a Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Suboxone?

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Key Takeaways

  • Nurse practitioners can prescribe Suboxone after completing required buprenorphine training.
  • The 2023 law allows NPs with a DEA number to prescribe Suboxone.
  • NPs can prescribe Suboxone in all states except Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
  • Prescribers need eight-hour buprenorphine training to legally prescribe Suboxone.

Suboxone contains buprenorphine, and while it’s used to treat opioid addiction, it can also cause some patients to become addicted to it.

This is why it’s important that Suboxone is prescribed by a clinician who is fully qualified to do so.

As of 2024, nurse practitioners are allowed to prescribe Suboxone in some states after they complete a training program on buprenorphine.

Here’s all you need to know about the process and which places allow NPs to prescribe the drug.

What Laws Allow Nurse Practitioners to Prescribe Suboxone?

A federal law called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), passed in 2016, allowed NPs to prescribe Suboxone (in accordance with state laws). But it required them to have a special waiver (waiver X) to do so.

The law also capped the number of Suboxone prescriptions an NP could write.

In 2023, another federal law removed the waiver requirement and allowed all NPs with a DEA number to prescribe Suboxone.

A DEA number is issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to healthcare providers who prescribe controlled substances (like Suboxone).

But the 2023 law also requires all prescribers of Suboxone to undergo an eight-hour training program on buprenorphine.

This means NPs must undergo buprenorphine training—which is offered by organizations like the American Psychiatric Nurses Association—to be able to prescribe Suboxone (even if they have a DEA number).

In Which States Can Nurse Practitioners Prescribe Suboxone?

Nurse practitioners can prescribe Suboxone in all states except Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

While federal law does allow NPs to prescribe Suboxone, legislation in these three states prohibits them from doing so, and NPs must adhere to state law.

In all other states, NPs can prescribe Suboxone if they fulfill the requirements above.

Some states allow NPs to prescribe Suboxone without supervision, while others require them to prescribe the drug in collaboration with a physician.

Who Can Prescribe Suboxone Other Than a Nurse Practitioner?

All healthcare providers with a DEA number and the appropriate training can prescribe Suboxone.

This includes physicians (who have MD or DO degrees), nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

You should never trust the prescription of someone without a DEA number and Suboxone training, as inappropriate use of the drug can lead to severe side effects.

These include allergic reactions, breathing problems, liver damage, come, and even death.

What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

Nurse practitioners—also called advanced practice registered nurses—are registered nurses with an advanced degree.

This degree can either be a Master’s degree (which takes 2.5 years after nursing school) or a doctorate (which may take up to four years after nursing school).

During advanced training, NPs learn much of the same information that physicians do.

They are skilled at preventing, diagnosing, and treating medical conditions and have full practice autonomy in some states.

In other states, nurse practitioners and physicians work together.

Plus, NPs can specialize in areas like pediatrics, family medicine, acute care medicine, and psychiatry.

NPs specialized in psychiatry have the liberty to diagnose and treat mental health conditions, as well as prescribe medicines like Suboxone.

More About Suboxone

Suboxone is used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) and is a combination of two drugs:

  1. Buprenorphine: A partial opioid agonist, which means buprenorphine pills activate the same opioid receptors in the brain as stronger drugs, like heroin, do but to a weaker extent. This allows them to prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms, which occur when people can’t use drugs of abuse to activate opioid brain receptors
  2. Naloxone: An opioid antagonist, which means it binds to opioid receptors in the brain but blocks them. It is added to Suboxone to prevent people from misusing it.

Suboxone is meant to be taken by mouth, but when taken properly, naloxone remains inactive.

But if someone tries to inject Suboxone into a vein, naloxone gets activated and blocks the potentially addictive effects of buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is a class III controlled substance. Class III controlled substances are defined as those with a moderate potential for abuse and cannot be bought without a prescription.

This is why federal law requires all practitioners who want to prescribe buprenorphine to have a DEA number and the appropriate training.

Use Suboxone Safely with Curednation

If you think a buprenorphine prescription will help your condition, reach out to our expert NPs at Curednation.

We offer telemedicine opioid treatment and mental health services so you can recover from the comfort and privacy of your home.

NPs at Curednation have the training to confidently diagnose and manage opioid addiction with medication-assisted treatment.

Book an appointment today for comprehensive addiction treatment.

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