Navigating Side Effects: Can Suboxone Make You Sick?


Key Takeaways

  • Suboxone can cause nausea, particularly when starting treatment or changing doses.
  • It affects the vomiting center in the brain, leading to nausea and vomiting.
  • Taking Suboxone on an empty stomach can increase the likelihood of nausea.
  • The medication’s bitter taste may also contribute to feelings of nausea.

As with any medication, people taking Suboxone can experience some of the drug’s adverse events.

The buprenorphine component of the drug acts partially on opioid receptors all over the body, including those in the gut and the brain.

Suboxone affects the vomiting center in the brain, causing nausea and vomiting in some cases.

Those effects are more pronounced when first starting Suboxone treatment.

Let’s explore why Suboxone can make you sick and how to avoid the drug’s adverse effects.

Why Does Suboxone Make You Feel Sick?

Suboxone has become a staple in substance abuse treatment for its effectiveness and tolerable adverse effects profile.

By far, the most common adverse event associated with Suboxone is nausea.

Here are some of the reasons why Suboxone can make you feel sick:

Precipitated Withdrawal

Since Suboxone is inherently a partial opioid agonist that competes to bind with opioid receptors in our body, the medication itself has the potential to precipitate opioid withdrawal symptoms.

This happens when the person taking opioids still has the drug of abuse in their system.

Suboxone renders other opioid drugs inactive and should be started only after the person has gone through a proper detox period.

If Suboxone is administered too early, opioid withdrawal symptoms ensue. One of such symptoms is nausea.

If you experience nausea while taking Suboxone, especially early in the treatment, contact your healthcare provider to explore different treatment options or dose adjustments.

Concomitant Drug Use

People treated for chronic conditions who receive other medications are at risk of drug interactions when taking Suboxone.

Some drugs, including over-the-counter medications, affect how fast Suboxone is being broken down in our bodies, allowing the drug to elicit its effects for a longer period.

For example, people with alcohol dependence have an increased risk of opioid overdose.

In an effort to treat such effects, severe withdrawal symptoms are always a feared outcome.

Opioid withdrawal effects on the gastrointestinal tract manifest as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

It’s also worth noting that the body needs time to adjust to sublingual buprenorphine treatment.This differs from one person to another.

When healthcare providers prescribe Suboxone, they give you a list of all the temporary effects of the drug that should just go away over time.

Nausea is one of the early body responses to Suboxone.

Your gut needs time to adjust to Suboxone, so early in the course of treatment, nausea can be an issue.

If those effects don’t fade away over time, you should contact your healthcare provider to further personalize your treatment program.

Improper Suboxone Dosage

Suboxone is a long-acting opioid that exerts its effects over an extended period. It comes as a sublingual film with different dosages.

Your doctor will adjust the dose and frequency of your Suboxone medications depending on a number of factors.

Those include considerations for the different medications that you’re on, any pre-existing medical conditions, and the effectiveness of the proposed dose to treat your opioid addiction.

If you experience any of the common symptoms of opioid overdose, like trouble breathing, trouble sleeping, or digestive system symptoms, you might need to visit the nearest emergency room.

Overdose symptoms should be closely monitored in people taking Suboxone as opioid overdose can lead to serious outcomes like liver damage, coma, and even death.

Suboxone Administration on an Empty Stomach

It’s recommended to wait for 30 minutes before eating anything following a dosage of Suboxone.

This gives enough time till Suboxone dissolves and gets absorbed. However, taking the drug on an empty stomach can cause people to experience nausea.

To avoid that, your doctor can advise you to eat an hour before taking Suboxone to mitigate the stomach upset.

Suboxone’s Bitter Taste

Suboxone is known to have a distinct bitter taste. Nevertheless, the drug is formulated with added sweeteners to mask and hopefully improve the bad taste.

That said, some people are more sensitive to the metallic or bitter components in the drug’s flavor than others.

This contributes to Suboxone nausea experienced by people treated for drug and alcohol dependence.

How to Improve Suboxone Nausea?

In addition to making you feel uncomfortable, Suboxone nausea can impact drug adherence.

This can lead to Suboxone withdrawal and suboptimal management of opioid use disorder (OUD).

Here are some helpful tips that can make taking the next dose of Suboxone easier to swallow:

  • Stay hydrated: If you have a sensitive stomach, drinking water and other fluids can help with Suboxone nausea.
  • Consume more dietary fiber: Upon eating enough fiber in your daily diet, you won’t be as susceptible to experiencing constipation. Constipation and nausea go hand in hand, and as long as you have regular bowel movements, you can better tolerate your Suboxone dose.
  • Use mouthwash after taking Suboxone: If the taste of the medication is the main cause of your nausea, consider using a mouthwash after your Suboxone film completely dissolves.
  • Avoid starting Suboxone too soon: You should be thoroughly assessed before your doctor prescribes you Suboxone to avoid precipitated withdrawal.
  • Use relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, avoiding quick movements, and following relaxation exercises can help improve Suboxone nausea.

Once your body gets used to the effects Suboxone exerts, nausea will improve on its own.

Suboxone nausea is always the worst during the first couple of weeks of starting the treatment. If your symptoms persist, reach out to your doctor to ensure you get proper management.

Access Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction Today…

If you or a loved one are battling opioid use disorder and would like to know whether medication-assisted treatment is suitable, book an appointment with Curednation today.


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