How Do You Take Suboxone Properly? What To Know

Suboxone is an FDA-approved medication that is used to treat opiate addiction. Suboxone forms just one element of a considered and comprehensive detox and recovery program for people affected by substance use disorder.

Ceasing the use of opiates may lead to unpleasant and even potentially life-threatening symptoms for some people. These symptoms are called opiate withdrawal.

Suboxone is used to manage withdrawal symptoms from opiates like heroin, which can vary from one person to another. It is used in the active phase of rehabilitation, sometimes also called the induction phase, and in the maintenance period after treatment, to keep withdrawal symptoms in check.

Suboxone contains Naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist. This means it blocks the effect of opioid drugs. It is only suitable for use in situations where the addicted individual has been using short-acting opioids like heroin, morphine, or codeine.

The other ingredient in Suboxone is Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine reduces withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.

The nervous system in the human body adapts to the presence of opiates. The period after their withdrawal can be uncomfortable or dangerous to varying degrees as the body adjusts to regular homeostasis.

Suboxone can help manage the symptoms of opiate withdrawal but, on its own, it’s unlikely to enable people to leave opiate addiction behind over the long term. 

Suboxone should part of a complete opiate and heroin detox program — an emotional, spiritual, and psychological journey of which physical withdrawal from opiates is just the first step.

4 Steps To Taking Suboxone Properly

Health History

It is essential to review health history thoroughly before taking Suboxone as it is not suitable for everyone. It is not recommended for people who have suffered from one or more of the following conditions:

  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Breathing problems including sleep apnea
  • Any other conditions which impact breathing
  • Enlarged prostate and problems with urination
  • Gallbladder, adrenal or thyroid problems
  • A former head injury, brain tumor, or history of seizures
  • Pregnancy and, in some cases, breastfeeding

Taking Suboxone as Prescribed

Suboxone must be taken as prescribed. It is important not to take more because you are experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms or take it for longer than prescribed.

There is potential for abuse with Suboxone and patients may become dependent on it.

Suboxone is a controlled substance and is categorized as a Schedule Three prescription drug. It can be used in defined medical situations, but it can also cause a physical or psychological dependency. 

The US government created special regulations for Schedule III drugs. Doctors can only prescribe Suboxone as part of an opioid recovery program after they have had special training and certification.

A comprehensive detox and recovery program is designed to support people with substance use disorders. Even with Suboxone, the struggle is real, so reach out for support and discuss your difficulties with qualified professionals.

How to Take Suboxone

Suboxone comes in two forms; an oral tablet and an oral film. Both forms are sublingual, which means you can place them under your tongue, and they will dissolve.

The oral film can also be placed between the gums and cheek to dissolve. Before taking the film, drink some water to moisten the mouth – this helps the film dissolve quickly and easily.

If the prescription is to take two films simultaneously, then place one inside each cheek. Keep the films in place until they have completely dissolved. If it is necessary to take a third film, this can be put inside the cheek after the first two have dissolved.

Resist the temptation to chew or swallow the film while it is dissolving, as this can impact the effectiveness of the medication.

Tablets are placed under the tongue to dissolve.

Suboxone begins to work within an average period of 30 to 60 minutes.


You should not take Suboxone if you are allergic to the two main ingredients, which are Buprenorphine and Naloxone, also called Narcan.

Suboxone Usage Tips

Administration of Dosage

You should use Suboxone oral film under your tongue and not in the cheek during induction treatment. Applying the film to your inner cheek is more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms.

During the induction phase, this medication is administered under the supervision of a doctor.

Suboxone induction should not start until at least six hours after your last use of a short-acting opioid (such as heroin or codeine), and you begin to experience moderate withdrawal symptoms.

In the maintenance phase of your program, try and take Suboxone at around the same time each day. It is safe to take on an empty stomach. Avoid consuming any food or drink while the film is in your mouth.

Missing a Dose

If you forget to take a dose during the maintenance phase, then take it as soon as you remember. If it is nearly time for your next dose, just take that one dose. Never try and catch up by taking two doses at once or very close together.

Avoid alcohol

You should not drink alcohol while you are taking Suboxone. Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of dangerous side effects such as low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, and coma.

Suboxone and Grapefruit

Grapefruit juice can raise the levels of Suboxone and possibly increase any side effects. Avoid drinking grapefruit juice while you are taking Suboxone. 

Other Medications 

Your doctor will review any other medication you may be taking for unrelated conditions to ensure no adverse interaction with Suboxone.

Suboxone efficacy can also be impacted by herbal treatments and remedies such as chamomile, St John’s Wort, and Valerian. Alternative remedies such as these can increase the side effects of Suboxone or reduce its effectiveness.

Side Effects

Suboxone can have a range of side effects that vary from mild to severe. Common and mild side effects may include headaches, nausea, constipation, backache, anxiety, sweating, depression, and trouble sleeping.

Some people confuse side effects with opioid withdrawal symptoms as it can be challenging to separate the two. Therefore, it is essential to discuss any side effects with your doctor or support team.

Mild side effects will often ease within a few days or a couple of weeks. Your doctor can suggest ways to alleviate side effects like constipation or headaches.

Tapering the Dose

If you stop taking Suboxone either because you want to or because your doctor thinks you should, it is always better to taper the dose off rather than stop abruptly.

Tapering the dose can help avoid mild withdrawal symptoms like headaches and nausea. Tapering the Suboxone dosage can sometimes take weeks or even months.


As part of an induction treatment program and maintenance plan, Suboxone helps people affected by substance misuse disorder on the road to a brighter future.

Suboxone is a medication that requires careful management and is part of a range of measures that can be put in place to deliver a compassionate and complete journey away from addiction.

If you or a loved one is ready to begin Suboxone treatment, reach out to the Master Center.

With years of experience in the Virginia area, we’ve helped many on their road to recovery.

Reach out today and start your journey now!