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  • Writer's pictureDr. Soroosh Hashemi, M.D.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, is a partial opioid receptor agonist and partial antagonist. This means it partially stimulates opioid receptors and partially blocks them. Suboxone is used to combat opioid addiction in two ways: First, Buprenorphine partially stimulates receptors leading to decreased feelings of withdraw or cravings. Second, it blocks other opioids from reaching receptors if a patient relapses and tries to get high again.

The fact that Suboxone partially stimulates opioid receptors does mean that a patient can experience withdraw if they suddenly stop taking this medication. However, Suboxone is medically prescribed, pharmaceutically standardized, and dosing is monitored by trained physicians. The result is that patients are able to stop taking Suboxone when they feel ready. We advise they wait until they are no longer experiencing cravings and their personal and professional lives have stabilized. We also recommend taking one's time with the process, as rushing through can lead to relapses and other issues.

The bottom line is if dosing is reduced gradually and responsibly, a patient can taper off Suboxone in a matter of months, sometimes even less. Suboxone is not a life-long medication, so don't let the fear of dependency keep you from getting the help you need. Our patients take Suboxone for a short period of time until they feel ready to stop, then we slowly and painlessly taper them off. The result is freedom from Opioid Use Disorder.

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