The side effects of Suboxone range from not very bad to pretty severe.
Unless you are someone who has either been to treatment and/or struggled with opiate addiction, Suboxone is something that you quite possibly have never heard of.
In a nutshell, Suboxone is a drug (buprenorphine, an opioid, and naloxone, a drug that blocks opioid receptors) that is most commonly prescribed for people who are either coming off of hard opiates such as heroin or who are taking it in the form of a maintenance regimen for the sake of damage control/relapse prevention.
There is a lot of controversy around Suboxone in the recovery community due to its abuse potential, but that’s not why we are here. I am solely going to focus on what the side effects are of being on Suboxone for either a short or long period of time, based on my own personal lived experience with the drug.
General Knowledge About the Side Effects of Suboxone
Suboxone contains two substances, one being buprenorphine which is the opioid part of the medication, the other being naloxone. Naloxone is used to help prevent relapse by causing a person to not be able to get the desired effects from opiates once naloxone is in their system.
Suboxone most commonly comes in the form of a strip as well as occasionally being prescribed as a tablet. Both types are dissolved under the tongue sublingually, and it takes about five minutes before the medication starts doing its job.
Oftentimes, people will come into treatment as a full-blown heroin addict, and Suboxone can be very helpful at not only preventing excruciating withdrawals, but patients will often be tapered slowly off of the Suboxone in order to make the transition into recovery as comfortable as possible.
Here are some of the most common side effects of Suboxone, according to doctors:
- Blurry vision
- Back pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful tongue
- Dizziness and fainting
- Problems with concentration
- Irregular heartbeat
- Numb mouth
But this isn’t super useful because it’s not giving you a good picture of what the side effects of Suboxone are really like.
Here’s my personal experience.
My Experience On Suboxone’s Side Effects
I have been on Suboxone for 2 years. I can say that since the duration of being on it, I have not had a single slip up with opiates, which is definitely a blessing. I have been on it so long that I don’t get any type of effect from it; however, when I don’t take it, it is seriously some of the most brutal withdrawal symptoms I have ever experienced in my life.
I had been struggling with opiate addiction for most of my twenties. I always thought that I knew better than what the doctors would suggest, and my sponsor in AA would constantly ride my ass about needing to change this type of thinking and become more willing to take suggestions from people who might know better than me.
I think he is right in the aspect of not playing doctor in my life, but in this particular instance, I had gone to visit the doctor as a follow-up after I had gone through detox at a hospital at the University of Utah. I had a slip with opiates, and the doctor pretty much suggested that if I don’t get on Suboxone that I would die of an opiate overdose.
Maybe he was right, maybe he wasn’t. If I could go back in time and make a different choice on that particular day two years ago, I would choose to have not taken the doctor’s suggestion regarding being on Suboxone. I will tell you my reasons why.
Why I Wish I Wasn’t on Suboxone
I may not get the desired effect from it as mentioned earlier, that wasn’t always the case, but it didn’t take long before there wasn’t really a feeling associated with taking Suboxone. Regardless of if I get a high from in or not, like I said, when I don’t take it or accidentally miss a dose, the side effects of Suboxone are unlike anything I have ever experienced before in my life.
Not only are the withdrawals excruciating, but they also can last for over a month due to the extremely long half-life of buprenorphine, one of the two drugs that are in Suboxone. I have tried to get off of it multiple times, but I always have tapped out after two weeks of getting zero hours of sleep.
The pain from not taking it makes me feel almost the same as I did when I was in active addiction, just knowing I will get sick if I don’t take it and the slave that I inevitably become unless I want to be curled up in a ball for days on end on the shower floor, sweating and not being able to control my bowels.
It’s pretty disgusting, and I wouldn’t wish that type of pain on my worst enemy.
It makes me sad to think that drugs recovery clinics are prescribing to help people stay abstinent from hard drugs are almost harder, if not harder to get off of, than the hard drugs themselves.
Another major side effect I deal with since being on it is it has a pretty detrimental impact on my sex drive and has caused some pretty serious issues in past relationships as a result. It almost makes man parts completely numb to where you can’t really feel any sort of stimulation, which can make your partner feel pretty insecure.
The sex drive side effect has caused my self-confidence to take a major dive in the wrong direction, and that’s something that I struggle with every single day.
I also struggle with pretty severe nausea from the naloxone that’s coupled with buprenorphine. My nausea is so severe that if I do not take a nausea pill right when I wake up every single day, then I will regurgitate my breakfast or dry heave if I don’t eat. I’m having to take other drugs just to combat the side effects of Suboxone.
I also struggle with feeling like everything just has a subtle dullness about it. I am an artist, and I can tell that it is much harder to tap into my inner creativity than it would be if I wasn’t on Suboxone at all. This is something else that makes me feel extremely insecure.
Lastly, I think one of the most severe side effects of Suboxone that I’ve run into is this feeling of being numb, which is exactly the opposite of what I would want when seeking recovery. Not feeling numb anymore was one of the biggest reasons I decided to get sober in the first place!
Are the Side Effects of Suboxone Worth It?
Whether or not you should take Suboxone is something that you honestly should think and pray long and hard about. Like I said, if I could go back in time and make a different choice, then there would be no way in hell that I would ever take it.
If you are addicted to opiates and are thinking about seeking treatment to get clean, I would not let the doctor at the rehab try to talk you into being on it long-term.
Obviously, I am no doctor, but please just take it from my personal experience. I can tell you that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in recovery who accidentally made the same mistake I did, letting someone talk them into thinking that they are basically doomed as an opiate addict unless they take Suboxone for the rest of their life.
If it was something that you decided that you were going to take long-term, then I would just make sure you stick with a low dose no greater than two to four milligrams a day. If you keep it at a low dose, then you are much less likely to experience some of the brutal physiological consequences that I have mentioned thus far.
I can speak for men as far as some of these go, but I’ve heard that women can experience some of the same types of sexual consequences.
Final Thoughts About Suboxone
Regardless of everything I have mentioned, at the end of the day, it is super important for me to not beat myself up. I don’t abuse it nor do I keep any secrets from my sponsor. I have been able to have a functional life regardless of some of these symptoms I have mentioned, and that in itself is a blessing and miracle!
I am truly doing the best I can and just have to keep going one day at a time. I am currently working on a long taper to get off of Suboxone permanently, and all I can do is hope that maybe this short post saves someone from making the same mistake that I did when choosing to be on Suboxone long term.
That’s just what I’ve experienced when it comes to the side effects of Suboxone. What are your experiences? Let me know in the comments.