For individuals in treatment for addiction to opiates, heroin and a wide array of prescription opioids, Suboxone can be a life-saving part of recovery. However, many people still don’t understand exactly how it works. If you’re considering undergoing Suboxone treatment, it pays to have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your care. For example, how long does Suboxone take to work? How can another opioid be used in opioid addiction treatment? Read on to learn the answers to these and other questions.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is an FDA-approved drug that’s often used as part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program for people in recovery. It’s been proven safe and effective at reducing the severity and length of withdrawal side effects from opiates and opioids. These include heroin, fentanyl and a variety of prescription pain medications.

Suboxone must be prescribed by a physician. It’s considered an upgrade to previous medication-based treatment aids, such as methadone, because it can be taken at home and carries a lower potential for abuse.

The medication is available in either film or tablet form. Both are dissolved under the tongue when used as directed.

How Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone consists of two components: buprenorphine, an opioid, and naloxone, which is a drug that blocks the effects of opioids. The buprenorphine introduces a mild opioid into the user’s system, reducing cravings and other negative effects of withdrawal. Naloxone, the main ingredient in the life-saving drug Narcan, reverses the effects of other opioids.

These ingredients combine to make recovery — especially in the early period of detox — more comfortable and easier, increasing the odds for successful, sustainable sobriety.

How Long Does Suboxone Take to Work?

This medication clearly offers benefits, but when you’re feeling the potentially severe symptoms of opioid withdrawal, drugs like Suboxone need to be quick and efficient sources of relief. So, how long is it for Suboxone to work? Although no medication acts instantly, Suboxone is dissolved under the tongue instead of taken as a pill, so its effects are felt faster.

The actual length of time it takes to feel the effects of this medication can vary based on the individual and the dose taken, but it typically follows an expected timeline. Generally, you should expect to feel the effects of Suboxone in about 20 to 60 minutes.

When Should You Start Taking It?

If you’re interested in starting Suboxone treatment, the first step to take is to speak with a doctor or addiction specialist. A medical professional can become familiar with the specifics of your case and work with you to find the best course of treatment for your long-term recovery.

It’s recommended that a person start taking Suboxone within 12 to 24 hours after using opioids for the last time. This is the time period in which acute withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, fever and powerful cravings, usually start.

Does the Time It Takes Suboxone to Start Working Depend on the Dose?

No, because your dose of Suboxone will be decided by medical professionals familiar with your case, health history and physical factors. Occasionally, when a person in treatment starts taking Suboxone under medical supervision during detox, a doctor may increase the dose as needed until their acute withdrawal symptoms are alleviated.

People who use Suboxone at home generally receive a specific dose for their prescription based on their body weight and the unique aspects of their case. You should never take more than your prescribed dose to feel the effects faster or make them stronger. You should also never stop taking the medication suddenly. Any changes to your prescription should be made with the knowledge and supervision of your doctor.

Experiencing Effects vs. Affecting Recovery

When we talk about how long it takes for Suboxone to work, there are two different meanings. One, which is answered above, addresses how long it takes for a person to feel the effects of the drug after taking it. The second concerns how long the drug needs to be taken in order to produce the intended outcome.

How long you’ll have to stay on Suboxone depends on your unique situation. Some doctors only use Suboxone as part of a MAT program to make detox a more comfortable experience. Others prefer to keep a person on Suboxone through additional levels of care to keep them focused on recovery and able to resist triggers and cravings more easily. In some cases, Suboxone may be used as part of an ongoing treatment plan of undetermined length.

How Long Will One Dose of Suboxone Last?

So, how long is Suboxone working when you take it as part of your treatment? Suboxone can stay in your system for up to 3 days, but you might only feel the effects on the first day. Once you’ve gotten into a routine with your Suboxone treatment, you should only need to take a single calibrated dose every day. If the medication isn’t giving you a full day of relief, you should discuss the dosage with your doctor.

What Effects Should You Expect When On Suboxone?

An important part of understanding how long does Suboxone take to work is to recognize when the effects have started. This is also the best way to identify how much you should take and how often.

When you first start taking it, you’ll likely be feeling the effects of withdrawal, so it may be difficult to know whether the medication is working. Generally, if you feel relief after 20 to 60 minutes, it’s a good sign that your dosage is correct. If the effects feel weak after the first 2 hours or if you feel nothing at all, you should take another dose when 2 hours have passed. This can be repeated over the first day until you find the quantity that works for you.

Note that these are common recommendations given by medical professionals who prescribe Suboxone. You should always follow your doctor’s instructions and contact them if you feel your dose is incorrect.

Suboxone Treatment at Sunlight Recovery

If you’re considering starting treatment for a substance use disorder, “How long does Suboxone take to work?” is just one of the questions you might have for an addiction treatment professional. At Sunlight Recovery, we take pride in creating personalized treatment plans for individuals who come to us for support. Contact us today for a consultation and take your first step toward lifelong recovery.