Is Suboxone an Opioid? Common Addiction Risks Explained


Suboxone is an FDA-approved medication that is used to treat Opioid Use Disorder. It is available as a sublingual film and sublingual tablet and is prescribed to treat symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.

However, is Suboxone itself an Opioid? In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Whether Suboxone is an opioid
  • The role of Suboxone in opioid dependence treatment
  • How Suboxone compares to other opioids.

Let’s get into it.

Is Suboxone an Opioid?

Suboxone contains buprenorphine, an opioid medication that is designed to treat withdrawal symptoms and cravings. As a partial opioid agonist, Buprenorphine binds weakly to opioid receptors and activates them to a much lesser extent than full opioid agonists.

What makes this safer is the use of naloxone, an opioid antagonist. Naloxone blocks the action of stronger opioids, therefore discouraging Suboxone misuse.

Role of Suboxone in Opioid Dependence Treatment

Suboxone is an FDA-approved medication used to treat Opioid Use Disorder. It is used to help people who are addicted to opioids such as heroin, oxycodone, and codeine to reduce withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings.

Suboxone can also help treat acute and chronic pain, which may have been the underlying factor that led to an individual’s opioid addiction. Suboxone can also help reduce rates of opioid overdose.

How Buprenorphine Compares to Other Opioids

In order to reduce withdrawal symptoms from illegal and prescription opioids, Buprenorphine partly binds to the same receptors. However, it is a partial opioid agonist. This means that, unlike opioids such as heroin and methadone, it does not have a full effect on these receptors.

As a result, Suboxone has a lower risk of abuse, addiction, and unwanted side effects compared to other opioids. It also means that it does not produce the same euphoric effects that other opioids do.

Buprenorphine: Partial agonist, limited euphoria

Since buprenorphine partially binds to the opioid receptors, it only produces mild increases in mood. This helps to treat withdrawal symptoms from other stronger opioids without producing the same euphoric effects.

Even at high doses of Suboxone, buprenorphine exhibits a ‘ceiling effect.’ This means that it will not result in the same euphoria as other opioids, even at high doses.

Lower overdose risk

Because buprenorphine does not fully bind to opioid receptors, it is much less likely to result in overdoses compared to other opioids.

It also has a unique ability to actually displace other stronger opioids such as morphine and methadone from their receptors. However, it is important to note that there is still a risk of overdose, especially when mixing medications.

Mild and short withdrawal

Since buprenorphine is an opioid medication, you can expect some withdrawals from the medication if discontinued too quickly. However, if your body has begun to adapt to the lower levels of opioid receptor activation, this withdrawal will be both milder and shorter than withdrawals from other opioid drugs.

Opioid addiction treatment

Suboxone is a prescription medication that is used as part of medication-assisted treatment for people who suffer from Opioid Use Disorder. It can be used to reduce opioid withdrawals and cravings.

Although there is potential for misuse, this risk is relatively low. This is because Suboxone does not fully activate the opioid receptors and doesn’t result in the same euphoric effects. It has a unique ability to mimic these medications without being highly addictive.

Heroin, prescription opioids: Full agonists, higher abuse and OD risk

Heroin and prescription opioids such as morphine are full agonists. This means that they completely bind to all available opioid receptors. This results in euphoric effects and subsequently makes them highly addictive.

There is also a high risk of overdose on these drugs, as one of their side effects is slowing of breathing. This may lead to brain damage and death.

Suboxone contains only a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone is a blocker of these receptors – which means the OD risk is much lesser. When people overdose on heroin, their breathing often slows or stops.

The Importance of Controlled and Supervised Use

Suboxone must be prescribed by a doctor who believes you will benefit from the medication. A doctor will ask to follow up with you when you are taking the medication in order to make sure the medication dose is right for you and to check that you are in good health.

Like any medication, there are some potential adverse effects of taking Suboxone that a healthcare provider will look out for and help to minimize.


Suboxone is an effective tool that is used as part of a complete opioid addiction treatment plan.

It is important to take this medication under the supervision of a healthcare provider who can help you manage withdrawal symptoms from other opioids as well as potential adverse effects.

If you are struggling with opioid dependency, it is important to seek help and meet with your healthcare provider so that you can receive the best care possible.



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