Hair loss is not listed as a known side effect of Suboxone in FDA trials 
Some people using Suboxone notice hair loss and may blame the problem on their medication. It’s understandable, but it’s probably not accurate.
Your doctor can help you determine why your hair is falling out, and together, you can decide what to do next.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Suboxone contains two ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Neither is associated with hair loss. But some people in recovery do notice more loose hairs in their bathtub drains and on their hairbrushes. What’s going on?
Hair loss in people recovering from opioid use disorder (OUD) could be caused by these factors:
- Stress: hair follicles are highly impacted by stress. There is actually a phenomenon called “telogen effluvium” in which an acute stressor causes a lot of hair follicles to “die” all at once and causes a lot of acute hair loss. If your body is going through stress in the setting of recent recovery, you may experience hair loss from stress alone.
- Drug-related damage: If you mixed your opioids with substances like methamphetamine, cocaine, or prescription stimulants, you might have damaged your hair follicles. This can also cause hair loss that is not related to your Suboxone.
- Genetics: The most common cause of hair loss worldwide is genetic. Men lose hair on the tops of their heads, while women experience an overall thinning or a widening part. This type of hair loss may have nothing to do with your drug use or recovery.
- Illness: Psoriasis, scalp infections, and polycystic ovary syndrome can all lead to hair loss. These conditions can worsen during substance use disorder, as you may not spend time caring for your body and health. You may have another underlying medical condition that is responsible for hair loss.
- Poor nutrition: Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can lead to hair loss in women and men. If you were eating poorly during your time using substances, nutritional deficiencies might contribute to your hair loss.
Your doctor can research the causes of your hair loss and help you decide what to do next. Sometimes, simple changes like altering your diet or letting your hair grow naturally can help.
Since hair grows very slowly, you may not see a change immediately. Treatments can sometimes take months to be effective as your hair grows back in. Be patient and know that you’re doing your part to keep your hair looking healthy.
Hair Loss & Suboxone
Since many different factors can cause hair loss, it can be misinterpreted and lead people to believe that Suboxone caused it.
If you start to experience hair loss while taking Suboxone for opioid use disorder, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to determine the possible cause. Suboxone alone is not usually the cause of hair loss.
- Suboxone Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/022410s000lbl.pdf. August 2010. Accessed January 2023.
- Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes. Accessed January 2023.
- Common Causes of Hair Loss. JAMA. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2795266. August 2022. Accessed January 2023.
By 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 ... Read More