What is Suboxone Abuse or Addiction?

If you are in opioid recovery, you may have heard of Suboxone.

What is Suboxone, and can you become addicted? Suboxone can often be part of treatment plans for opioid addiction based on the level of addiction.

If you or your loved one have developed problems with this medication, you need effective treatment.

Professional treatment is one of the only ways to avoid severe consequences that put your well-being at risk.

At North Jersey Recovery Center, we focus on recovery from Suboxone abuse and addiction and help our clients return to a stable, drug-free routine.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a brand-name medication containing two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone.

Doctors prescribe this medication to people affected by opioid addiction.

Suboxone is useful because it acts as a substitute for strong opioids, such as fentanyl or morphine. It helps get your opioid use under control and make progress toward your recovery and long-term sobriety.

Substance Abuse Interventionist walking with addict


Buprenorphine is the primary ingredient in Suboxone. It belongs to the opioid family of medications. However, buprenorphine is chemically different from most opioids. When you take it, it does not produce the same reaction as certain hardcore substances, such as heroin. Instead, it produces a much weaker reaction.

This allows buprenorphine to serve as an opioid substitute. It provides enough of a drug effect to help you through opioid withdrawal during medical detox. At the same time, if you are addicted to stronger opioids, the medication will not get you “high.”


Naloxone is the second main ingredient in Suboxone. This medication is classified as an anti-opioid, meaning it acts as a cut-off switch to stop opioids from reaching your brain.

You may be familiar with naloxone as a treatment for opioid overdoses. Suboxone, however, plays a different role. After a certain amount of time, it will begin to block buprenorphine from entering your brain. Because of this, naloxone acts as a deterrent and makes you less likely to abuse buprenorphine during treatment.

What is Suboxone Abuse?

Despite the presence of naloxone in Suboxone, people still try to abuse the medication.

If you have a prescription, you participate in abuse if you:

  • Increase the size of your Suboxone doses without your doctor’s consent
  • Take Suboxone more often than your doctor prescribed

There is also a third category of potential medication abusers, which is those people who do not have a Suboxone prescription.

Any amount of use without a prescription is an act of abuse. That is true whether you are motivated by medical or recreational purposes.

If you are already used to the effects of opioids, Suboxone abuse may have a limited negative impact. However, the situation changes if you are not accustomed to opioids’ effects. In these circumstances, you may suffer significant harm.

For example, if you are near the end of withdrawal, medication abuse may produce a significant setback in your recovery. This is because your system is no longer expecting to receive large amounts of opioids. There are also big risks for people with no history of using opioids. If they do not receive immediate help, they can develop opioid use disorder (OUD). An OUD is a mental health condition that includes:

  • Symptoms of opioid addiction
  • Damaging symptoms of non-addicted opioid abuse

What is Suboxone Addiction?

Suboxone addiction is a form of opioid addiction. Once inside your brain, opioids become addictive because they make several changes to the chemical environment. These changes gradually cause your brain to treat opioids as a necessary part of its function. When this happens, you are no longer a voluntary opioid user. Instead, you have a physical dependence on opioids.

If you are physically dependent and suddenly stop taking opioids or make sharp cuts in use, your system will rebel.

Signs of a problem include withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • An inability to get to sleep or stay asleep
  • Excessive mucus, tears, or sweat production
  • Cramping muscles in your abdomen
  • Achy muscles throughout your body
  • Nausea that can lead to vomiting
  • Loose stools
  • Unexplained feelings of anxiousness or agitation

When it comes to opioids, you can be physically dependent without being addicted.

What tips the scales from dependence to addiction? Those who are addicted to this substance are also psychologically dependent — not just physically dependent. As a rule, psychological dependence leads to drug-seeking and other damaging changes in your behavior.

There are a total of 11 possible problems found in people with OUD. You can be diagnosed with this condition if you are addicted to Suboxone. However, you can also be diagnosed if you lack addiction symptoms but suffer from multiple symptoms of opioid abuse. It takes two symptoms of abuse and/or addiction to meet the terms for OUD.

Overdose Risks

Can you OD on Suboxone? Potentially, yes. However, this is not easy to do for a couple of reasons.

First, buprenorphine is relatively weak compared to most other opioids. In addition, the naloxone in Suboxone makes it even harder for the medication to overwhelm your system.

People rarely overdose, unless they also use other substances that slow down their nervous systems. That includes substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines.

What is Suboxone Addiction Treatment?

No matter what kind of opioid you are addicted to, professional treatment by dedicated staff and medical experts can help to overcome this substance addiction.

To get started. you must complete a course on opioid detox. Detox is a safe environment, allowing you to withdraw gradually over time. Under normal circumstances, you might receive buprenorphine as part of the withdrawal process. That may still be the case if you are addicted to Suboxone. Your doctor will help determine what works best for your situation. At North Jersey Recovery Center, we feature customized detox plans for all participants.

NJRC also offers top-quality services for follow-up treatment of your opioid problems. Those services typically include continued use of medication to support your recovery.

In addition, we offer multiple forms of behavioral therapy. This is the name for a group of treatment options proven to regain your sobriety. Some examples of the options known to help people addicted to opioids include:

  • Community Reinforcement
  • Contingency Management Interventions
  • 12-Step Facilitation
  • Motivational Incentives

If you are affected by a dual diagnosis, your treatment plan usually includes another option called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). People with dual diagnoses are not just affected by substance problems may also have symptoms of another form of mental illness. DBT is generally combined with medication appropriate for your specific illness.

Seek Help For Suboxone Problems

Suboxone is an OUD treatment medication.

Its main active ingredient is buprenorphine, while also containing naloxone. Buprenorphine is used for weak opioid substances.

When used properly, it helps complete opioid withdrawal as safely and as comfortably as possible to ease your withdrawal symptoms. How? By easing withdrawal symptoms without getting you “high.” Naloxone blocks opioids in your system. There is just enough of this medication in Suboxone to act as a cut-off switch for buprenorphine. In this way, naloxone decreases the odds for buprenorphine abuse in treatment.

Even with this precaution in place, you can abuse Suboxone. If you do this often enough, you may develop an opioid use disorder.

OUD covers symptoms of ongoing abuse and addiction. Addiction is the end result of physical and psychological opioid dependence.

While it is possible to OD on Suboxone, the chances are low. You increase the risk of overdosing if you combine the medication with other substances, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol.

With detox and active treatment, you can recover from OUD.

The help you receive during recovery depends on your personal circumstances. Both medication and therapy are common.

You may also require targeted help for the treatment of dual diagnosis.

To learn more about the risks of abusing Suboxone, contact North Jersey Recovery Center today.

We are long-standing experts at diagnosing the presence of OUD.

We are also the region’s top choice for effective OUD treatment and recovery.