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How to Take Suboxone Tablets

By Elena Hill, MD, MPH
Sep 28, 2021

What Are Suboxone Tablets?

Suboxone tablets are used for the FDA-approved indication of opioid use disorder (OUD) to help limit cravings and symptoms of withdrawal in individuals who are dependent on opioids. In addition, Suboxone tablets are used off-label for the management of chronic pain in certain patients. 

Suboxone primarily comes in two forms: strips (films) and tablets (pills). Suboxone tablets are dissolvable tablets that contain a combination of two medications: the opioids “buprenorphine” and “naloxone”. The tablets can be administered sublingually (under the tongue) or buccally (inside the cheek) where they rapidly dissolve. 

Suboxone can also be taken in film/strip form, which you can learn more about there: How to Take Suboxone Strips. 

Why Does Suboxone Come in Sublingual Form Instead of as a Pill That Is Swallowed?

Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is best absorbed under the tongue or sometimes inside the cheek because it is more “bioavailable” this way. This means that more of the medication can enter the system by dissolving through the skin of the mouth than it can by being digested in our very acidic stomachs. 

Because most patients are used to swallowing pills, starting to take a sublingual film or tablet can take some getting used to. This article will walk you through exactly how to administer a Suboxone tablet. 

Suboxone Film vs. Tablets

The two forms of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), strips (films) and tablets, both work equally well to treat opioid use disorder. Oftentimes, a patient will receive either the strip or the tablet depending on what their local pharmacy has available or what their insurance plan will cover. 

The strips are probably the most common form available and are usually what patients start with. There are some subtle differences. Some patients feel that either the strips or tablets have a less bitter taste and might prefer one over the other for that reason. 

On average, the tablets take slightly longer to dissolve than the strips. However, both formulations work equally well when administered properly. If you have tried one or the other and prefer to try a different formulation, talk to your doctor. 

How Do I Take Suboxone Tablets?

Suboxone tablets

Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) tablets are displayed in the image above. The number 2 represents “2 mg”, but they also come in larger doses of 8 or even 12 mg. 

  1. Store the tablets in a cool/dry place. They do not need to be refrigerated. 
  2. Make sure you have eaten something fifteen minutes to a half an hour before taking your tablet, particularly when you are first starting buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone). This is to avoid any stomach upset or nausea. 
  3. Before taking your dose make sure your mouth is empty of food.
  4. It can be helpful to moisten your mouth with some water before using the tablet to help it dissolve. 
  5. When you are ready to take your dose, place the tablet under the tongue and keep it there. 
  6. Try not to talk or move the tablet in your mouth until it is fully dissolved. This takes anywhere from two to five minutes on average. The tablet form of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) can take slightly longer than the strip form to fully dissolve. 
  7. Do not chew, suck or swallow the tablet, as it will not get maximally absorbed this way. 
  8. Once the tablet is fully dissolved, you can either spit out any saliva that has accumulated in the mouth or swallow it. Some people prefer to spit out the saliva because they dislike the taste. However, if you are going to do this, make sure you do so after the tablet itself is fully dissolved and only saliva remains. 
  9. Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) can have a minty/sour taste that can be bothersome, at least at first. Most people quickly get used to the taste. 
  10. Wait about five minutes after taking your tablet before drinking water or eating, to make sure the tablet is fully dissolved before washing any saliva down. 
  11. The effects of the buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) usually start within 10 to 30 minutes of taking the tablet.

Click here for more guidance on taking buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) tablets.

Suboxone Tablet Dosage

Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) tablets come in different doses. The smallest tablets are usually 2 mg and the largest is usually 12 mg. The actual size of the tablets is the same, but the higher dose tablets contain more medicine.

Side Effects of Suboxone Tablets

One of the more common side effects of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is nausea, particularly at first. This side effect tends to go away with continued administration of the medication as the body gets used to it. 

It can also cause some dizziness or euphoria. However, this is less common in patients who are used to opioids already. If these symptoms do occur, they may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours until the medication wears off. 

Opioids in general, including buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), can cause constipation. This can be a more chronic problem.

If you are experiencing any undesirable side effects with buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), particularly at first - don’t panic! Many of these side effects go away quickly as your body gets used to the medicine over the first couple of days. If any side effects you experience are persisting, talk to your doctor. There are other medications and tips/tricks for minimizing any undesirable side effects. 

Is Suboxone Treatment Right for You?

If you think buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) might be right for you, please reach out to our Bicycle Health online Suboxone doctors. We are standing by to answer all your questions. Call us at (844) 943-2514 or schedule an appointment here.

Is Suboxone treatment a fit for you?

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