What are the Long-Term Effects of Suboxone? - ARISE Rehab

Suboxone is a prescription medication containing buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, an opioid antagonist. It is commonly prescribed for people who are trying to overcome opioid addiction because it can effectively reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal and alleviate drug cravings.

Long-term clinical studies have proven Suboxone to be a very effective treatment approach for opioid use disorder. For example, people who take Suboxone for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) are less likely to need inpatient detox services, more likely to complete treatment, and less likely to relapse than people who did not receive Suboxone treatment.

When Suboxone is prescribed, it is because the physician believes the patient can benefit from the medication. However, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding Suboxone and other MAT medications, causing people to be hesitant before committing to treatment.

Long-term Suboxone use does not come without risks, but it is only prescribed when the benefits outweigh the risks. Not only that, but most people don’t take Suboxone forever–they slowly stop taking it as they become more secure in their recovery. If taken exactly as prescribed, Suboxone is perfectly safe, and it can help you achieve lasting recovery.




Common Suboxone Side Effects

As with any medication, it is possible to experience side effects whether you take Suboxone for short or long periods of time. Some side effects are normal and subside after your body adjusts to the medication. Others are more severe but rare.

Common side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability

Rare and more severe side effects of Suboxone are:

  • Allergic reactions (rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, difficulty breathing)
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Mood changes (depression, anxiety)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Liver problems (yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, abdominal pain)
  • Adrenal insufficiency (fatigue, weakness, decreased appetite)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Irregular heartbeat

If you experience any serious side effects while taking Suboxone, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Potential Long-Term Effects of Suboxone Use

When taken as prescribed, Suboxone is safe and effective. How long you take Suboxone will depend on the severity of your addiction, the progress you make in recovery, and your healthcare provider’s expert opinion.

Potential long-term effects of Suboxone are:

Dependence and Withdrawal

Buprenorphine, one of the active ingredients in Suboxone can be physically habit-forming, even if you take the medication as directed. As a result, if you take Suboxone for an extended period of time and suddenly stop taking it, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Goosebumps
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drug cravings

To avoid withdrawal, your doctor will help you taper off Suboxone slowly when you are ready to stop taking it. By gradually decreasing your dose over a period of time, your body will be able to adjust to increasingly lower doses, reducing the risk of withdrawal.

Never stop taking Suboxone cold turkey. Always speak with your doctor to come up with a plan to stop using Suboxone safely.

Mental Health Concerns

Some people have reported anxiety, depression, and other mental or emotional health-related issues. Other long-term effects include insomnia, poor focus and concentration, and restlessness. In most cases, these symptoms can be managed by switching your medication or changing your dose.

Liver Issues

Suboxone is processed in the liver which can place stress on the organ. While this is not a problem in people with healthy liver function, those with liver impairment may experience organ damage or liver failure as a result of increased liver enzymes. As a result, you should avoid taking Suboxone if you suffer from liver disease. Your doctor may also test your liver enzymes on a regular basis to ensure the organ’s health.

Is Suboxone Worth the Risks?

Compared to many other prescription drugs, Suboxone has very few long-term risks. Even when considering the risks, the benefits usually outweigh them.

Opioid addiction is a serious and life-threatening condition, and more than 150 Americans die each day as a result of an opioid-related overdose. If Suboxone can help guide people toward recovery, it can prevent overdose deaths and give people a second chance at life.

If your doctor suggests Suboxone and you have any concerns, make sure to discuss them with your physician. You may also ask about alternative medications and their side effects to determine which one is best for you.

Remember, most people don’t take Suboxone forever. Some people only take it during detox to take the edge off of withdrawal. Regardless, the ultimate goal of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with Suboxone is to wean you off the medication as early as possible without increasing your risk for relapse.

Is Suboxone Dangerous When it is Abused?

Although taking Suboxone as prescribed is safe and effective, abusing Suboxone is dangerous and comes with a variety of risks. First, abusing Suboxone can increase your tolerance to the medication, resulting in your prescribed dose becoming ineffective. When your medication is no longer effective, you may put yourself at an increased risk for relapse.

Other harmful side effects of Suboxone abuse include:

  • Physical dependence and addiction
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to the circulatory system

Find Suboxone Treatment Near You

Suboxone cannot cure addiction, but it can provide relief for withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making recovery more attainable for people struggling with opioid use disorder. If you or a loved one are addicted to opioids, Suboxone may be able to help you achieve a sober future. Contact our team at Arise Treatment Center today to discuss your treatment options and find out what program is right for you.


  1. National Library of Medicine: Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions, Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855417/
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Buprenorphine, Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine
  3. National Library of Medicine: Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: An Overview, Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585403/


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