Addiction Recovery
woman wonders are you sober on suboxone
By BrightView
Published: November 11, 2022
Updated: May 14, 2024

Suboxone is a brand name of a buprenorphine/naloxone medication that helps people with opioid addiction recover by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Other brand names include Sublocade, Brixadi, and Subutex. Suboxone can be taken as a pill, film, or sublingual tablet. While this medication is not a cure for addiction, it is an important tool that can help people in recovery stay on track. However, there are some myths and misconceptions about Suboxone that can make it difficult for people to understand how it works and whether or not it’s right for them. If you’re considering an addiction treatment program, understanding the facts can help you make the best decision for your recovery.

An Overview of Suboxone

Suboxone is a medication that contains two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means that it binds to the same receptors in the brain as other opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers. However, buprenorphine is a much weaker opioid than other drugs in this class, so it produces only milder effects, such as relaxation and pain relief. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means that it blocks the effects of other opioids.

As a medication, Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction. It can:

  • Reduce cravings for opioids
  • Prevent withdrawal symptoms
  • Block the effects of other opioids if they are used
  • Allow those in treatment to focus on other aspects of recovery, such as therapy

Suboxone is not a cure for addiction, but it can be an important tool in recovery.

Are You Sober on Suboxone? Breaking Down the Myths

Myth 1: You Can’t Be Sober and Take Medication

If you had a cardiac condition and a physician prescribed medication to you to help you manage that condition, no one would accuse you of not being sober. Similarly, Suboxone, Vivitrol, and other medications, when taken as prescribed, help manage a chronic, recurring brain disease. Comparing Suboxone to street drugs shows a lack of understanding of both. While many abstinence-based programs work for some people, the neurological research behind opioid addiction indicates that for many, long-term sobriety may not be possible without medication.

Myth 2: Suboxone Can Cause a High

This myth has a dark past, mainly generated by a precursor to Suboxone called methadone. Because it is a full agonist, methadone can result in a high and subsequent withdrawal, which is why many medical providers have turned to Suboxone instead. Because it is a partial agonist, it is more difficult to abuse. Plus, the inclusion of naloxone in Suboxone creates a ceiling effect, which effectively prevents patients from taking an increased dose to get high.

Myth 3: Dependence and Addiction Are the Same

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use despite harmful consequences. It is a disease that requires treatment, just like any other chronic condition. Dependence is a normal physiological response to taking certain medications and goes away when the drug is no longer being taken. Withdrawal symptoms may occur when a person suddenly stops taking a medication, but this is not the same as addiction.

Discover a Different Approach to Treatment at BrightView

There are a lot of myths out there about recovery and sobriety that can be discouraging to those who want help. Here is a brief and powerful encouragement: do what works for you. For most people, that looks like getting involved in a comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment or drug rehab program that provides medication for addiction treatment, individual counseling, group therapy, case management/social services, and peer support. At BrightView, we treat the whole person, not just the addiction. If you are ready to take the first step on your journey to recovery, please reach out to us at 888.501.9865.