Buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone therapies were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2002 to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) through Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).
Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is the most commonly prescribed medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Suboxone can only be taken sublingually (beneath the tongue) in film or tablet form. When used in conjunction with behavior therapy, Suboxone treatment has proven to be highly effective in treating opioid dependence.
Research has shown that Suboxone could have harmful side effects in the liver when taken long term. In this article, we discuss how Suboxone works and why it is a safe and effective option for treating persons with substance use disorder.
How Suboxone Works in Substance Use Disorder Treatment
Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid approved by the US Department of Health & Human Services for use in MAT. Naloxone is an opiate antagonist that is used to reverse the effects of overdose, including respiratory depression.
Buprenorphine is classified as a partial agonist. This means that it has a lower potential for misuse and can diminish both cravings and withdrawal symptoms than other MAT medications. According to the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute, the buprenorphine's built-in "ceiling effect" lowers the risks for abuse.
Are There Side Effects to Taking Suboxone?
As with any other drug, side effects are expected, though they are typically mild and manageable. According to FDA records, the most common Suboxone side effects that patients report may include:
- Numbness of the tongue or mouth
- Trouble sleeping
- Back pain
- Lightheadedness and blurry vision
The same FDA records also caution against serious side effects, such as liver issues.
If you have a history of liver function issues, your medical provider may order blood tests before taking Suboxone and during the treatment process to ensure your liver is processing the medication effectively.
Is Suboxone Hard on Your Liver?
Suboxone’s drug literature mentions potential liver damage if there’s an underlying condition.
Research has shown that Suboxone has a low risk for hepatotoxicity and is safe for long-term use when taken under the supervision of a doctor.
Before you are prescribed Suboxone, your doctor may perform tests to assess your liver function. If you are found to have hepatitis or some other type of liver condition, then your doctor will consider other treatment options that will work for you.
Safe Medication Assisted Treatment With MATClinics
MATClinics brings many years of clinical experience and research into the use of Suboxone as part of its MAT program — and with great success. Combined with counseling and case management, our approach to addressing and treating opioid use disorder has helped many overcome addiction and move on to have healthy and happy lives.
Contact us today to learn more about Suboxone treatment and how we can help. You can also visit any of our eight offices across Maryland; we have extended and weekend hours to accommodate anyone's schedule.