Medically Reviewed

Preventing Suboxone Abuse

- 6 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

If you’re addicted to opioids, you might take Suboxone as part of your addiction treatment program. Although buprenorphine and naloxone are known to help reduce cravings and prevent opioid abuse, Suboxone abuse is a potential risk in people who take this medication.

Buprenorphine is a weak opioid, so there is a lot of controversy surrounding medication-assisted treatment (MAT) of this sort. However, numerous studies have proven the effectiveness of Suboxone when used in combination with behavioral therapy and counseling programs that abide by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s guidelines (SAMHSA).

Still, the drug is abused for many reasons. Some people purchase other people’s prescriptions on the streets while others will take higher doses to experience an analgesic effect. There are a variety of side effects and dangers of abusing medications that are used to treat opioid use disorders. That’s why it’s important to not only understand what Suboxone abuse looks like but also why participation in a comprehensive drug rehab program is so essential in preventing Suboxone abuse in the first place.

Warning Signs of Suboxone Abuse

If you’re concerned that a friend or family member is abusing Suboxone, there are some signs you can look for. The medication is packaged in blue and white plastic wrappers which you might begin seeing around the home. Or, if your loved one has a prescription, running out of doses early is a sign that your loved one is abusing his or her medication. Furthermore, Suboxone abuse looks a lot like opioid abuse. It often leads to drowsiness, unusual behavior, constricted pupils, and even strained relationships with family and friends or the inability to meet financial obligations.

In the end, using Suboxone in any way besides the way you’re instructed to by your physician is not only illegal, but it is dangerous and can lead to addiction – ultimately defeating the purpose of the medication in the first place.

Steps to Prevent Suboxone Abuse

All opioid treatment programs (OTPs) that administer Suboxone and other opioid treatment medications must be accredited by a SAMHSA-approved body to ensure that the proper treatment standards are met. This includes participation in a treatment program, a dedication to one’s recovery, and medication management techniques. Let’s look at some of the ways that treatment centers in Tennessee help prevent Suboxone abuse.

Encourage active participation in an evidence-based addiction treatment program.

Evidence-based treatment programs use clinically proven treatment methods combined with pharmacotherapy to help people overcome addiction. The key to a successful Suboxone treatment program is individualized therapies that target a person’s specific needs. After all, long-term sobriety requires healthy coping skills and behavioral therapy – not just medication.

As people begin to reap the benefits of their treatment plan, they will become more equipped to handle cravings. In addition, drug rehab programs provide emotional support and supervision to help keep patients on the right track. All of these factors combined help people continue taking their medications as directed.

If you’re participating in an inpatient drug rehab program, your medications might be administered to you by a physician each day. This way, until you’re ready to manage your medications on your own, you don’t have access to the medication to abuse in the first place. This type of intensive treatment is best for people who are worried that they may end up abusing their Suboxone.

Facilitate alumni groups, 12-step meetings, or other forms of drug rehab aftercare.

Another aspect of recovery involves support groups and ongoing care. A common misconception about addiction is that a person will be better after rehab. However, this is rarely the case. Instead, many people in recovery participate in alumni programs, 12-step fellowships, or other recovery-focused support groups. This helps provide ongoing support for people who are looking to live a healthy and sober lifestyle.

During medication-assisted treatment, patients are encouraged to start connecting with other sober people and building support groups. Many treatment centers will take patients to outside meetings or bring their own meetings into the rehab facility. Either way, this helps provide patients with an idea of what it’s like to stay sober after rehab. While support groups can help you stay sober, this added support and guidance can also aid in preventing Suboxone abuse.

Enforce follow up appointments and medication management with the prescribing physician.

While the state of Tennessee allows patients to take Suboxone home on an outpatient basis, there are strict guidelines regarding dosages and refills of the drug. These strict Suboxone regulations help prevent drug abuse by limiting the amount a person can take home and requiring all patients to see their doctor on a regular basis.

For example, most patients will take home a 2 week – 30 day supply. However, they won’t have access to refills without visiting their prescribing doctor first.

Once a person’s treatment goals have been reached, he or she will begin tapering off of Suboxone under close care and guidance of the prescribing physician.

Find Safe and Supportive Suboxone Treatment Today

Suboxone treatment is highly acclaimed by addiction experts all over the nation. Anyone who is addicted to opioids knows how difficult withdrawals and cravings are, but Suboxone can help mitigate these symptoms and benefit your recovery. Despite the controversy surrounding the drug, our Memphis drug rehab has strict guidelines in place to prevent Suboxone abuse among our patients.

If you or a loved one is interested in receiving opioid replacement therapy, contact us today for more information.