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The Dual Effects of Suboxone

The opioid problem in the United States is a national health crisis. Since 1999, more than 760,000 people have died from a drug overdose and opioids account for two-thirds of these deaths. More alarmingly, more than 10 million people over the age of 12 misused opioids in 2018 alone.

Our team here at Northshore Family Practice is all too familiar with these frightening numbers, which is why we offer our patients a way out of an opioid use disorder through Suboxone®. This medication contains two ingredients that tackle your substance use disorder from two different angles, and we explore them here.

Behind a substance use disorder

Substance use disorders in general, whether it’s opioids or alcohol, are diseases that hijack your physical, mental, and emotional health. There are two aspects of a substance use disorder, which include:


This part of a substance use disorder is the dependence your body develops on the substance, which is what causes withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit.


This side of a substance use disorder is characterized by a “rewiring” in your brain that favors using. Addiction is what leads to those uncontrollable cravings, the changes in your behavior, and the inability to quit.

Suboxone for dependence and addiction

The main reason why Suboxone is so successful in combating opioid use disorders is that it contains two ingredients that address both dependency and addiction:


The first hurdle to overcoming an opioid use disorder are the withdrawal symptoms, which is where buprenorphine comes in. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it delivers a version of opioids into your system to combat withdrawal symptoms (taking care of dependency), but not enough to deliver the “high” (helping addiction.)  It also prevents cravings AND it blocks the opioid sites with a stronger bond so that if you do use other opioids, their action is blocked and you do not get high (taking care of addiction.)  


Buprenorphine works really well because it attaches to your opioid receptors and blocks them. The goal of this ingredient is to prevent you from getting “high” while also controlling your cravings to prevent relapse.  But, some people try to get around the buprenorphine blockage by misusing their Suboxone.  Naloxone is there to prevent that misuse.  If you try to misuse it, then the Naloxone will displace the buprenorphine on the opioid receptor sites and cause immediate withdrawals. 


Do not be confused. Naloxone is the extra medication in Suboxone.  It is also the medication known as Narcan.  Naltrexone is its long-acting “cousin.” It is in Vivitrol.   This drug is an opioid antagonist that attaches to your opioid receptors and blocks them. The goal of this ingredient is to prevent you from getting “high” while also controlling your cravings to prevent relapse.

Suboxone and your recovery

Suboxone is approved by the FDA, and we monitor your recovery very closely to ensure that you’re getting the best out of the treatment. 

When combined with counseling and support groups, Suboxone has helped scores of our patients finally break free from the chains of opioids.

If you’d like to learn more about Suboxone and whether it can give you the leg up you need to reclaim your life, contact our office in Bothell, Washington, to set up a confidential consultation.


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