Is Suboxone an Opiate?
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a drug used in the treatment of opiate addiction. Unlike other drugs similar to it, Suboxone is a sub-lingual pill, meaning that you do not swallow it—you put it under your tongue and allow it to dissolve. Because the area under the tongue has so many blood vessels, it is an ideal place for a pill to go because the drug can enter the bloodstream much more quickly than if swallowed.
In rare instances, Suboxone has been used as a means of managing chronic pain, but it is not FDA-indicated for this reason.
What is in Suboxone?
As for whether or not Suboxone is an opiate, the answer is yes—kind of. Suboxone is composed of two active drugs. One of them is buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine is indeed an opiate. It works in the same way many other opiates do, including morphine, codeine, hydrocodone and heroin. But buprenorphine is just one of the two drugs in Suboxone.
The second drug to be found in Suboxone is called naloxone. This is most definitely NOT an opiate. Naloxone works in the other direction—it actually blocks the euphoric effects of morphine, codeine etc. preventing patients from getting high from those drugs. In fact, when a person has overdosed on opiates like heroin, they can be given an injection of naloxone that can save their lives almost instantly. The reason it can do this is because it blocks the activity of those opiates. Overdosing heroin addicts are often brought back to life from naloxone—and tend to be very angry when this happens, because naloxone puts patients into instant and immediate opiate withdrawal.
When it was first released, there was a lot of hype about the efficacy of Suboxone as being the great savior for opiate addicts, and it does succeed in blunting withdrawal symptoms in some patients. However, other patients have found that the euphoria in Suboxone is very attractive, and a full-blown black market has developed to obtain the drug.