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U.S. Suboxone Treatment Statistics & Availability

April 18, 2022

Table of Contents

Suboxone is an evidence-based and highly effective treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD).[1]

In 2020, close to 3 million people in the United States had a diagnosed OUD.[2] Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT), is an evidence-based, gold standard of care for OUD. 

Medications that are FDA-approved for MAT include buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.[3] Suboxone is a brand name medication that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. 

MAT  can help to improve function, aid retention in treatment, decrease opioid overdoses, and reduce the odds of relapse[4] 

Statistics on Suboxone

Suboxone is a brand-name formulation of buprenorphine and naloxone, prescribed in a sublingual film that can be dispensed by a doctor and picked up at a local pharmacy.[5] This makes it a more accessible treatment for OUD than Methadone, which must be prescribed by a licensed facility on a daily or weekly basis. 

Suboxone is classified as an essential medication by the World Health Organization (WHO).[6] Suboxone can help to decrease opioid cravings: One study showed that cravings scores before treatment were between 62.4 and 64.6. After a month of Suboxone treatment, these scores dropped to 29.8.[7]

A study on the long-term effects of Suboxone showed that after 18 months, half of the study participants were still abstinent from opioids. After 3.5 years, more than 60% were still abstinent..[8]

Suboxone is estimated to reduce illicit opioid overdose rates by nearly 40%.[8] 

In 2020, only 11.2% of people with opioid use disorder received MAT treatment. MAT is only offered at about a quarter of publicly funded treatment programs and less than half of private treatment programs.[9]

Prescriptions for MAT using buprenorphine are increasing, as rates rose from 1.97 people per 1,000 population in 2009 to 4.43 people per 1,000 population in 2018. Close to a third of people with buprenorphine prescriptions are taking 16 mg/day for at least 180 days.[9] 

Buprenorphine/naloxone combination medications (“Suboxone”) are typically prescribed more often than monotherapy buprenorphine. A study in Tennessee showed that nearly 200,000 prescriptions of the combination medication were dispensed in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to just over 30,000 monotherapy prescriptions.[10] Buprenorphine is usually dispensed along with Naloxone in the form of Suboxone because the naloxone component of Suboxone acts as an abuse-deterrent, remaining dormant unless the medication is altered and misused through injection.

Statistics on Methadone

Methadone is a controlled substance 

Methadone is full opioid agonist with a long mechanism of action. It must be dispensed in federally regulated and approved opioid treatment programs (OTP). 

There are around 1,500 treatment facilities in the United States, and in 2015, more than 350,000 people were receiving Methadone for UD. In comparison, around 3,000 substance abuse treatment facilities dispensed buprenorphine to around 75,000 people in 2015.[11] 

Statistics on Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that helps to keep opioid drugs from activating opioid receptors.

Between 2017 and 2018, one naloxone prescription was dispensed for every 70 high-dose opioid prescriptions in the United States.[12] 

Stats on Suboxone Misuse

Suboxone is an effective opioid use disorder treatment, but it is still a controlled substance. Though any controlled substance has the potential for misuse, there is a lower abuse potential with Suboxone due to its combination, abuse-deterrent form. 

Buprenorphine’s “ceiling effect” helps to deter overdose and misuse. The “ceiling effect” refers to the fact that when the medication is taken above a certain amount, the effects level off so a person cannot continue to “get high”. They also cannot get so “high” that they overdose. 

The vast majority of people who take buprenorphine do so as directed. Around three-quarters of those using buprenorphine in 2019 state that they take it as directed— 1.7 million people used it as prescribed compared to 700,000 who misused it.[13] Close to a third of those who did misuse buprenorphine reported doing so due to opioid dependence and/or addiction. Close to a quarter of those misusing the medication did so to self-medicate physical pain. 

Studies show that Suboxone is often misused to combat withdrawal symptoms of illicit opioids such as heroin, particularly if the patient is under dosed and not receiving enough medication to combat their withdrawal symptoms.[14] 

Suboxone Availability & Usage by State

As of September 2020, there were more than 85,000 registered and qualified medical practitioners able to dispense MAT in the United States.[16] There is still a treatment gap for many high-need populations, however. 

In 2020, nearly 10% of the American population, or 28 million people, lived at least 10 miles away from the nearest buprenorphine provider. Rural areas largely account for this issue, with Texas having the highest number of people in need outside of the 10-mile buffer with 3.7 million people outside of this range.[17]

Below are the 2022 listings of how many opioid treatment programs are in each state:[18]

  • Alabama: 23
  • Alaska: 6
  • Arizona: 67
  • Arkansas: 6
  • California: 167
  • Colorado: 30
  • Connecticut: 51
  • Delaware: 17
  • Florida: 89
  • Georgia: 75
  • Hawaii: 5
  • Idaho: 4
  • Illinois: 89
  • Indiana: 23
  • Iowa: 8
  • Kansas: 9
  • Kentucky: 28
  • Louisiana: 10
  • Maine: 12
  • Maryland: 97
  • Massachusetts: 103
  • Michigan: 48
  • Minnesota: 16
  • Mississippi: 5
  • Missouri: 18
  • Montana: 4
  • Nebraska: 4
  • Nevada: 16
  • New Hampshire: 11
  • New Jersey: 63
  • New Mexico: 21
  • New York: 128
  • North Carolina: 84
  • North Dakota: 3
  • Ohio: 108
  • Oklahoma: 20
  • Oregon: 24
  • Pennsylvania: 103
  • Rhode Island: 23
  • South Carolina: 27
  • South Dakota: 1
  • Tennessee: 23
  • Texas: 98
  • Utah: 17
  • Vermont: 7
  • Virginia: 45
  • Washington: 33
  • West Virginia: 9
  • Wisconsin: 23
  • Wyoming: 0

Rates of Medicaid-covered buprenorphine prescriptions vary greatly by state with the following having the highest rates:[19]

  • Vermont: 1,210 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018, which was 46% higher than the next highest-rated state and 200 times greater than the lowest-rated state
  • West Virginia: 827 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018
  • Kentucky: 662 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018
  • Montana: 588 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018
  • Ohio: 438 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018

These states have the lowest prescribing rates:

  • Arkansas: 5 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018
  • Texas: 8 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018
  • South Dakota: 11 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018
  • Florida: 12 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018
  • Kansas: 14 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees in 2018

Suboxone can be prescribed by a provider with a specialized DEA waiver who has been through the mandated training to use it to treat opioid use disorder. It can be offered in a variety of settings, including inpatient, outpatient, clinics, and doctors’ offices. 

Most often, Suboxone is a component of a complete opioid addiction treatment program.

Suboxone Treatment Statistics & Availability FAQs

What is the success rate of Suboxone treatment?

Suboxone is a highly successful treatment method for opioid use disorder, helping to decrease illicit opioid use and cravings and promote abstinence at high rates. Over half of the people using it remain abstinent from opioid misuse and avoid relapse or opioid overdose.

How long should you be on Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication that can be taken as long as needed. The majority of people take this medication for at least 180 days, although it can be taken for longer if necessary, even indefinitely for those who feel they need it long term to maintain abstinence. It is safe and effective on a long-term basis.

Where is Suboxone most commonly prescribed?

In 2018, Medicaid-covered buprenorphine was most commonly prescribed in New England, parts of Appalachia, East North Central states, Middle Atlantic states, and the Northern Pacific states. However, it is widely prescribed in all States for OUD. 

How many treatment providers can prescribe Suboxone?

There are nearly 100,000 qualified medical professionals able to prescribe Suboxone as a treatment for opioid use disorder.

Is Suboxone a drug of abuse? 

Suboxone does have potential for misuse. However, it is most commonly used as directed and prescribed. The majority of people who take Suboxone do so as intended and do not misuse it.

How often is Suboxone used to treat opioid use disorder?

Suboxone is considered a gold-standard method of treatment for opioid use disorder. Access to Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) is increasing with nearly 800,000 people receiving MAT in 2020.

Where can I get Suboxone treatment?

Suboxone is a medication that can be prescribed by a qualified medical professional and picked up at a local pharmacy. To find a provider, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers an interactive map and Buprenorphine Practitioner Locator to find local options for Suboxone treatment.[20]

Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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Citations

  1. Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). https://nida.nih.gov/publications/effective-treatments-opioid-addiction.  November 2016. Accessed April 2022.
  2. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2020-nsduh-annual-national-report. October 2021. Accessed April 2022.
  3. Information About Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/information-about-medication-assisted-treatment-mat. February 2019. Accessed April 2022.
  4. Effects of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder on Functional Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Rand Health Quarterly. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7302321/. June 2020. Accessed April 2022.
  5. Suboxone. Indivior. https://www.suboxone.com/. 2021. Accessed April 2022.
  6. World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines. World Health Organization (WHO). https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/325771/WHO-MVP-EMP-IAU-2019.06-eng.pdf. 2019. Accessed April 2022.
  7. Suboxone. European Medicines. Agency. https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/medicines/human/EPAR/suboxone. February 2022. Accessed April 2022.
  8. Long-Term Follow-Up of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Addiction to Pain Relievers Yields “Cause for Optimism.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2015/11/long-term-follow-up-medication-assisted-treatment-addiction-to-pain-relievers-yields-cause-optimism.  November 2015. Accessed April 2022.
  9. Medication-Assisted Treatment Improves Outcomes for Patients with Opioid Use Disorder. PEW. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2016/11/medication-assisted-treatment-improves-outcomes-for-patients-with-opioid-use-disorder. November 2016. Accessed April 2022.
  10. 2020 Buprenorphine Report. Tennessee Department of Health-Office Informatics & Analytics. https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/pdo/2020 Buprenorphine Report_11.30.pdf. November 2020. Accessed April 2022.
  11. Trends in the Use of Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Extended-Release Naltrexone at Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities: 2013-2105 (Update). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_3192/ShortReport-3192.html. August 2017. Accessed April 2022.
  12. Still Not Enough Naloxone Where it’s Needed Most. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0806-naloxone.html. August 2019. Accessed April 2022.
  13. Buprenorphine Misuse Decreased Among U.S. Adults with Opioid Use Disorder from 2015-2019. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). https://nida.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/10/buprenorphine-misuse-decreased-among-us-adults-with-opioid-use-disorder-from-2015-2019. October 2019. Accessed April 2022.
  14. Suboxone Misuse Among the Opiate Maintenance Treatment Pathway. Journal of Addictive Disorders. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23480248/. 2013. Accessed April 2022.
  15. Use of Non-Prescribed Buprenorphine in the Criminal Justice System: Perspectives of Individuals Recently Released from Incarceration. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740547221000751. August 2021. Accessed April 2022.
  16. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/docs/mat.htm. Accessed April 2022.
  17. Geographic Proximity to Buprenorphine Treatment Providers in the U.S. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871620302969. August 2020. Accessed April 2022.
  18. Opioid Treatment Program Directory. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). https://dpt2.samhsa.gov/treatment/. Accessed April 2022.
  19. State Variation in Medicaid Prescriptions for Opioid Use Disorder from 2011 to 2018. Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/research/publication/state-variation-medicaid-prescriptions-opioid-use-disorder-2011-2018. August 2019. April 2022.
  20. Buprenorphine Practitioner Locator. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/find-treatment/treatment-practitioner-locator. Accessed April 2022.

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