Suboxone Side Effects - Garden State Treatment Center

Suboxone is often used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. The medication contains buprenorphine, a narcotic that partially activates the opioid receptors in the brain. Naloxone, the other active ingredient in Suboxone, binds to the opioid receptors so that other narcotics can’t.

You might wonder why you would treat opioid use disorder with another narcotic. By deceiving the brain into thinking that it’s still getting narcotics but blocking the high, Suboxone reduces withdrawal symptoms so that you can focus on other aspects of healing. You can taper off of Suboxone slowly as you develop strategies for advancing your recovery.

Although Suboxone has life-saving benefits, the drug can produce side effects. Taking the right dose under the supervision of a healthcare professional can minimize some of the following Suboxone side effects.

Flu-Like Symptoms

Some people feel sick after taking Suboxone. They may experience side effects such as:
• Nausea
• Abdominal cramping
• Sweating
• Chills

Because it contains an opioid, Suboxone can cause digestive distress and flu-like symptoms. That’s because your gut has a dense concentration of opioid receptors.

The medication acts on the stomach and intestines as much as it does the brain. It delays gastric emptying, which can cause heartburn and abdominal cramping. Suboxone can change your stool consistency and habits, making it harder for you to empty your bowels and interfering with nutrient absorption.

If you are detoxing from opioids, however, you might be used to these side effects. You’re also likely to experience some flu-like symptoms as a result of opioid withdrawal.

Even though Suboxone minimizes withdrawal symptoms, it can’t be used immediately. You’ll experience the initial stages of detox while the other opioids are leaving your system. Taking Suboxone usually makes these withdrawal symptoms subside, however.


Suboxone and other opioids can make it difficult for you to have a bowel movement because they alter the absorption of fluids in the colon. Staying hydrated can minimize this side effect. While laxatives can help, you don’t want to become dependent on laxatives. In recovery, you can work toward nourishing your body adequately to minimize constipation and restore a healthy digestive system.

Severe Headache

One of the most frequently reported Suboxone side effects, headache is attributed to the presence of naloxone in the drug. It usually subsides with continued use of the medication.

You can relieve headaches with over-the-counter medications. It’s also essential to take care of yourself in other ways. Get enough rest, manage your caffeine and nicotine intake and drink plenty of water.

Psychological and Behavioral Side Effects

Any medication that affects your brain chemistry can cause psychological side effects. In addition to mood swings, patients report the following mental and behavioral Suboxone side effects:
• Anxiety or nervousness
• Irritability
• Lethargy and lack of motivation

Long-Term Suboxone Side Effects

Many Suboxone side effects go away over time. However, using the drug for a prolonged period can cause liver damage and hormonal imbalances.

Opioids are known to affect hormone levels with short-term and long-term use. Patients who take this medication may experience endocrine dysfunction, such as adrenal fatigue, hypogonadism, lower testosterone and reduced sexual function.

It’s not clear whether the sexual side effects, such as low libido and reduced pleasure, are due to hormonal imbalances. Opioids can make it more difficult to climax, and they interfere with your body’s reward system. Talking to your healthcare provider about sexual side effects can help you maintain intimacy and enhance your sexual health in recovery.

Suboxone can also be hard on the liver. This side effect is usually temporary. But you are at an increased risk of liver damage if you abuse Suboxone, take it in high, frequent doses or have an underlying liver condition.

Risk of Suboxone Abuse

One of the most significant long-term Suboxone side effects is the increased risk of dependence and abuse. Although the drug is safer than many other opioids, it works by replacing some of your body’s natural mood-enhancing chemicals. If you feel relaxed and at ease when you take Suboxone, you may have a hard time letting go of it.

Still, Suboxone exhibits a ceiling effect, which means that it limits your response to the medication if you take too much of it. This minimizes the risk of addiction.

You can further reduce the risk of dependence and addiction to Suboxone by taking it under the guidance of a licensed physician. The goal is to reduce the dosage gradually so that you reduce your dependence on the drug as you strengthen your coping skills and other healthy behaviors.

Are There Alternatives to Suboxone?

Methadone is a commonly used alternative to Suboxone in medically-assisted addiction treatment. It acts on opioid receptors, reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. However, methadone has a stronger action than Suboxone.

It’s also more addictive. With methadone, you don’t get the ceiling effect. Therefore, people have a higher risk of overdosing on methadone than on Suboxone.

Is Suboxone Treatment Right for You?

It’s important to take the right dose if you’re using Suboxone to support your recovery. You’ll work closely with a healthcare professional to monitor and manage your side effects. Combining Suboxone with other medications, especially benzodiazepines, is especially dangerous. Therefore it’s essential for your doctor to know what other medications you’re taking.

Suboxone treatment is approved for treating opioid use disorder, and its benefits often outweigh the risks. It reduces cravings and helps you get through withdrawal so that you can move forward with the positive aspects of recovery. Contact us if you have questions about Suboxone and medication-assisted therapy to help you break the cycle of addiction.


  • What are the side effects of Suboxone?
  • Is Suboxone harmful to your health?
  • Does Suboxone make you sleep a lot?
  • What medications can you not take with Suboxone?

Published on: 2022-10-29
Updated on: 2024-05-24