Common questions about Suboxone

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Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Suboxone.

Is Suboxone a controlled substance?

Yes, Suboxone is a controlled substance. It’s classified as a schedule three (III) prescription drug. This means it has an accepted medical use, but may cause physical or psychological dependence and may be abused.

The government has created special rules for how schedule III drugs can be prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist. To find out more, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Is Suboxone methadone?

No, Suboxone is not methadone. Suboxone contains two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone. While methadone is also used to treat opioid dependence, it’s a different drug than Suboxone.

How long does Suboxone take work?

Suboxone begins to work within 30 to 60 minutes.

Suboxone warnings

Suboxone may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions. Examples of these conditions include:

  • Lung disease. Suboxone can cause breathing problems. These problems are more likely to be severe in people with lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma, and bronchitis.
  • Liver disease. People with liver disease might have an increased risk of withdrawal symptoms when taking Suboxone. And people with moderate-to severe liver disease may not be able to take Suboxone.
  • Head injury. Suboxone can increase the pressure in fluid in the spinal cord and brain. For people who have had a head or brain injury in the past, this effect can cause dangerous side effects, including loss of consciousness.

Suboxone expiration

When Suboxone is dispensed, an expiration date is added to the label on the bottle. This date is typically one year from the date the medication was dispensed.

The purpose of these expiration dates is to guarantee the effectiveness of the medication during this time.

The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. However, an FDA study showed that many medications may still be good beyond the expiration date listed on the bottle.

How long the medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where the medication is stored. Suboxone should be stored at room temperature, at about 77°F (25°C).

If you have unused medication that has gone past its expiration date, talk to your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Professional information for Suboxone

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Mechanism of action

Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor and is an antagonist at the kappa-opioid receptor. Stimulation of the mu receptor causes analgesia, respiratory depression, euphoria, and dependence.

Due to its partial agonist effects, buprenorphine may reduce the pleasurable effects when mu-opioid receptor agonists are used.

Naloxone is a mu-opioid receptor antagonist. Naloxone is included in this formulation to prevent its use parenterally. Naloxone has poor oral bioavailability and minimal amounts are absorbed when administered sublingually or buccally.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine has better absorption when given sublingually compared to orally. The half-life is about 24 to 42 hours.

Naloxone has poor bioavailability when administered sublingually. The half-life is about 2 to 12 hours.


Suboxone is contraindicated in people with a known hypersensitivity to buprenorphine or naloxone.

Abuse and dependence

Suboxone is a schedule III medication that’s abused similar to other opioid medications. Long-term use of Suboxone can lead to physical and psychological dependence and drug-craving and drug-seeking behavior.

In order to prevent abuse and diversion, multiple refills should not be prescribed or dispensed at the beginning of treatment.


Suboxone should be stored at room temperature, at about 77°F (25°C).

Disclaimer: MedicalNewsToday has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.