Suboxone strips are dissolvable sublingual (under the tongue) or buccal (inside the cheek) films. They contain the active ingredient buprenorphine and the opioid antagonist naloxone. When administered in either one of these two ways, they dissolve and enter the body rapidly.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is an opioid drug commonly used to relieve withdrawal symptoms related to more potent opioids, including heroin or oxycodone. The buprenorphine included in Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it works in the brain in the same manner that other, more potent opioids do but tends to produce much milder effects. Naloxone, also present in Suboxone, prevents overdose and the medication from being abused.
How to Use Suboxone Strips
As noted, there are two ways to administer Suboxone strips—sublingual or through the insides of the cheek. Moreover, films can be placed under the tongue or inside the cheek. Either way, the film is left to dissolve and does not need further maintenance. The critical thing to remember is that the strips should be dissolved entirely and not chewed, swallowed, or cut.
Using sublingual administration, people who need help to recover from opioid dependence don’t need to take Suboxone in tablet form anymore. One of the most significant disadvantages of taking the drug as a tablet is that the process is not as discreet compared to using the film and may have more potential for abuse.
Suboxone Strips Side Effects
Side effects associated with Suboxone strips are identical to those of taking Suboxone in tablet form. While Suboxone is indicated to address severe opioid addictions, it’s also a psychoactive drug, so health and addiction professionals must be very cautious when prescribing it. In the short-term, users tend to feel relaxed, calm, and peaceful, which can last up to two days after only one dose.
Still, some people may attempt to abuse Suboxone strips, which may result in side effects, including the following:
To avoid the potential side effects of Suboxone strips, individuals should only use it as directed by a healthcare provider and in combination with a long-term, comprehensive addiction treatment plan.
Unfortunately, some people abuse the drug for recreational or non-medical purposes while not participating in a substance abuse treatment program. If Suboxone is taken in combination with other depressants, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, side effects can be more significant in number and more intense. Problems with respiration and even death can result from traumatic CNS (central nervous system) depression.
Signs of an Overdose
If you suspect that someone is too high or having an overdose, their life may depend on whether you leave them alone or investigate further and seek emergency medical intervention. If the person is still conscious, try to keep them awake and moving carefully if possible and closely monitor their breathing.
If you notice any of the following signs of an overdose, please call 911 immediately:
- Loss of consciousness
- Unresponsive to outside stimulus
- Awake but unable to talk or respond (stupor)
- Breathing is slow, shallow, labored, or has stopped
- Cyanosis, or bluish or grayish fingers or lips
- Choking sounds, or a snore-like gurgling noise (aka the “death rattle”)
- The body is very limp
- The face is pale and/or clammy
- Heart rate is slow, erratic, or not detectable
If you notice a person who has used Suboxone making disturbing or odd sounds while sleeping or unconscious, it is worth trying to rouse him or her. Many loved ones of users think they are snoring when, in fact, they could be experiencing an overdose. These circumstances represent failed opportunities to intervene and save a person’s life.
Fortunately, it is relatively rare for someone to die immediately from an overdose. When a person survives, it’s usually because someone was nearby and recognized the need for emergency medical help.
Treatment for Suboxone Addiction
Suboxone addiction is much less common than addictions to other narcotics because its effects are milder, and the presence of naloxone is usually effective at preventing abuse and overdose. It is meant to be administered as a treatment for addiction to more potent opioids, but problems with its use or misuse do occasionally occur.
If you or someone you love is addicted to Suboxone, other drugs, or alcohol, you are urged to seek professional help immediately. Just Believe Recovery offers partial hospitalization, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that include evidence-based approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, experiential activities such as music therapy, aftercare planning, and more.