If you are dependent on a legal or illegal opioid medication, your healthcare provider may prescribe Suboxone® (buprenorphine and naloxone). Suboxone can be used to gradually wean people off opioids; it can also be used for the long-term maintenance of opioid dependence.
When using Suboxone for the treatment of opioid dependence, the drug works by binding to certain opioid receptors in the body. Although Suboxone is also an opioid medication, it only partially activates the opioid receptors in the body. This can help reduce the risk for abuse.
Also, Suboxone contains naloxone, a drug that has little effect when taken as directed (dissolved under the tongue). However, if someone tries to abuse Suboxone by injecting it, the naloxone component cancels out the opioid effects of buprenorphine and causes severe withdrawal symptoms.
For this reason, almost everyone who needs long-term treatment for opioid dependence outside of a treatment center should receive Suboxone, rather than a buprenorphine-only medication, such as Subutex® (sublingual buprenorphine).