Suboxone Pills | Usage, Dosage, and Comparison to Strips

Published:

The opioid crisis began in the mid-1990s when waves of deaths were linked to the use of opioids. Since that time, demand for treatments that deal with substance use disorders has arisen.

Among these treatments (and especially within Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT)), Suboxone has emerged in both pill and strip forms.

So, what purpose do Suboxone pills serve? In this article, we’ll delve deeper into:

  • What Suboxone pills are
  • How to take them properly
  • What their status is today.

Let’s get started.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a prescribed medication that treats Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs).

The drug’s formation and inclusion into healthcare dates back to the beginning of the opioid crisis, and primary care providers can now supply it as part of a long-term Medication-Assisted Treatment plan (MAT).

Suboxone contains the combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone, acting as an μ-opioid agonist and antagonist respectively.

These ingredients help with reducing withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and the effects of opioid overdose.

Overall, Suboxone has been shown to help greatly in transitioning patients into a life of sobriety in a way that doesn’t force them to do so “cold turkey”. The Suboxone treatment plan is usually safe and well-managed.

What are Suboxone Pills?

Doctors can prescribe Suboxone pills or sublingual tablets to patients with opioid dependence.

Suboxone pills have the appearance of small hexagons with imprinted letters and numbers. The letters and numbers represent Buprenorphine and Naloxone content.

Physicians can adjust and vary the doses throughout treatment, but they generally recommend a daily target of 16 mg/4 mg of Buprenorphine/Naloxone.

Primary health care providers who have qualifications that meet the Drug Addiction Treatment Act can prescribe the medication.

Suboxone Pills vs. Strips

Suboxone Pills Suboxone Strips (Films)
Administration Placed under the tongue for dissolution. Sublingual or buccal administration.
Form Solid tablet. Thin, orange, rectangular soluble film.
Taste Unpleasant bitterness. Unpleasant bitterness (possibly stronger).
Storage Store below 86°F, in original packaging. Store below 77°F, protect from moisture.
Availability Limited due to discontinuation. Easier to access, available in 48.3% of US pharmacies.

Suboxone Pills

Administration: Suboxone pills are intended to be placed under the tongue as suggested by the term ‘sublingual tablets’ in its given leaflet.

This is so the pill can dissolve efficiently into the bloodstream. It is advised that patients do not swallow the pills whole as doing so will not allow the medication to be absorbed as effectively – potentially resulting in stronger opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Form: Suboxone pills are in a solid tablet form.

Taste: Patients often associate the taste of Suboxone pills with an unpleasant bitterness.

Storage: Suboxone pills have straightforward storage instructions. Patients should store them below 86 °F and in their original packaging.

Availability: In 2012, Reckitt Benckiser announced the discontinuation of the supply of suboxone tablets.

This decision was based on the higher rates of pediatric exposure that were occurring with the pills but not the film/strips.

Although pills can still be dispensed until alternatives are found or supply runs out, the availability of the pills across the United States may be limited for this reason.

Suboxone Strips (Films)

Administration: Suboxone film should only taken via sublingual or buccal administration as other methods such as swallowing reduce the bioavailability of the drug.

Sublingual administration involves putting the film under the tongue until it dissolves, while buccal administration involves putting the film in the sides of the cheeks.

Switching between either method is safe, as there is no significant difference in Buprenorphine exposure.

Form: Suboxone strips are thin, orange, and rectangular. It has a logo printed on each strip showing the given strengths.

The absorption of the strips involves bypassing the first-pass metabolism in the small intestine and liver, which facilitates fast absorption. Some doses also exhibit higher relative bioavailability.

Taste: Suboxone strips also have an unpleasant bitter taste that may be stronger than the pills.

Storage: Patients should store Suboxone strips below 77°F, and strips should remain in their individual sachets till use.

It is also important to protect them from moisture. This is because the films can degrade due to their sensitivity to moisture, subsequently impacting effectiveness.

Availability: With the discontinuation of pills, the Suboxone strips are now easier to access. The distribution of strips was favored due to their relatively more child-proof quality. The strips are available in 48.3% of pharmacies in the US.

How To Take Suboxone Pills

Patients should take Suboxone pills in a way that follows a suitable maintenance treatment plan. This means:

  1. Before considering the pills, patients should consult a primary healthcare provider to prescribe the medication and monitor dosage and duration
  2. Progressively adjusting the dosage depending on how the treatment is going
  3. Setting a maintenance dose
  4. Continuing treatment until suggested otherwise (there is no duration maximum)
  5. Using the tablets sublingually and not cutting, chewing, or swallowing the pills whole.

Suboxone Pill Dosage

An effective dose of Suboxone pills should be adjusted progressively in increments of either 2mg/0.5mg or 4mg/1mg of Buprenorphine/Naloxone throughout treatment.

Generally, doses between 4mg/1mg and 24 mg/6mg per day are suitable. However, the recommended target dose is 16mg/4 mg, which has proven to be effective.

Deciding the quantity to prescribe, especially in unsupervised patients, is dependent on their stability.

If there is concern about abusing the medication, the dosage may have to remain at a lower level. It is essential that there is medical supervision when using Suboxone due to its potential for dependence and misuse.

Conclusion

Available as a pill or as a strip, Suboxone is a medication that has undoubtedly played a huge role in combating OUDs.

With this said, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of taking the drug under medical supervision due to vital factors such as dosage, administration, and managing the risk of dependence.

While Suboxone pills served as an effective form of the drug, their discontinuation in 2012 due to concerns surrounding child safety has positioned Suboxone strips to be the primary form of treatment.

The difference in drug effectiveness between the two forms is minor, with only elements such as administration and appearance differing.

Regardless of the form, it is evident that patients need to take Suboxone treatment seriously in order to recover safely and effectively.

 References:

  1. https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/medications/suboxone/
  2. https://www.recoveryohio.org/suboxone/identification/
  3. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/020733s024lbl.pdf
  4. https://www.medsafe.govt.nz/consumers/cmi/s/suboxone.pdf
  5. https://www.empr.com/uncategorized/suboxone-tablets-being-discontinued/#:~:text=Reckitt%20Benckiser%20notified%20the%20FDA,buprenorphine%20and%20naloxone%20sublingual%20tablets
  6. https://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/datasheet/s/suboxonewafer.pdf
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35691255/

Share

Leave a Comment

Join our newsletter

Get Connected. Get Help. Join Us

The Curednation newsletter. We’ll send you unbiased and professional insights from our email list.

Plug in your Email

arrow-blue

All Resources, to help your Recovery

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

View all Resources

Is 12 Hours Long Enough to Wait to Take Suboxone?

Typically, you can wait for at least 12 hours after using short-acting opioids before taking Suboxone. That said, the ...

Does Brixadi Have Naloxone in It?

People receiving care for severe opioid use disorder (OUD) are at increased risk of relapse. This makes it critical ...

How Much Is Suboxone With Insurance? (And Without)

Suboxone treatment has become indispensable in managing the ongoing opioid addiction crisis. That said, the cost of medication-assisted treatment ...

How Effective is Vivitrol for Opioid Use Disorder?

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid use disorder, there is a high chance that Vivitrol ...

How to Get Vivitrol Out of Your System

Vivitrol is an FDA-approved medication used in the treatment of alcohol dependence, as well as to help support sobriety ...

Vivitrol Discount: What’s the Best Way to Save?

If you’re exploring treatment plans for alcohol and opioid dependence, you might come across Vivitrol. Vivitrol is a name-brand ...

Certified, Proven and Private

Curednation: A Place to Recover

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

I’ve had a great experience with curednation. I was not sure about it first but I went ahead and started the treatment from them anyways and so far it’s been a dream. The doctors are very nice and helpful.

Ryan

Dr. Carter is awesome I'm so excited to start my new journey and his team also very awesome and they make every visit welcoming.

Silvia

Curednation is truly cares about the well-being of their Patients. I am really happy with the treatment I’ve received so far. A big thank you to the doctors.

Philip

I came across this service because it is more convenient to get virtual help. I had foot surgery and telemedicine is way better than finding a ride and not feel like an inconvenience to other people.

Haley

It was a great experience everybody was kind and very knowledgeable I look forward to our next meeting thank you

Samuel

I have been doing the sessions for the last few weeks and it has been a life changer experience. I will say you have to do the work to get results. The more you do the better you will feel. They will educate you on ABC Medication, breathing technique and nutrition.

Charles