Does Suboxone Cause Weight Gain?

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Weight gain isn’t listed among Suboxone’s known side effects.

Researchers have found that some people in early recovery do gain weight, usually due to other factors such as better nutrition once they discontinue using drugs. 

Why Do People Gain Weight When They Stop Misusing Opioids?

People with opioid use disorder often gain weight in early recovery. Studies suggest that this weight gain is not due to Suboxone, but more likely other changes in lifestyle associated with early recovery. [1]

More than 3,000 people using Suboxone have participated in side effect research. While many experienced side effects like constipation and insomnia, no weight gain was reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) does not associate Suboxone with any appreciable weight gain. [2]

But you may gain weight in early recovery. Frequently, this is due to eating habits.

Individuals misusing opioids may have been malnourished in the setting of chronic drug use. When they enter recovery, they may start eating more regularly, causing them to gain weight. [3] In these cases, weight gain is probably a good thing as it indicates a return to proper nutrition.

In other instances, individuals may substitute one bad habit with another (although arguably less dangerous) habit of junk food instead of drugs. In this case, weight gain might also be expected. [3]

Of note, Rates of obesity are similar in patients on Methadone for OUD and the general population.[4]

What Can You Do to Maintain Good Nutrition While in Recovery?

If you're worried about your weight, talk with your doctor. A healthy diet and exercise could help.

If you notice that you’re substituting food for drugs (which is easy to do, especially in early recovery), talk with your treatment team. Addressing this problem in therapy early could help avoid developing poor coping mechanisms as you make this significant life change.

Sources

  1. The Effects of Buprenorphine/Naloxone Maintenance Treatment on Sexual Dysfunction, Sleep, and Weight in Opioid Use Disorder Patients. Psychiatry Research. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165178118308163?via%3Dihub. February 2019. Accessed July 2022.
  2. Suboxone Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/022410s000lbl.pdf. August 2010. Accessed July 2022.
  3. Preference for Sweet Foods and Higher Body Mass Index in Patients Being Treated in Long-Term Methadone Maintenance. Substance Use and Misuse. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10826080701517727?journalCode=isum20&. July 2009. Accessed July 2022.
  4. Weight Gain Among the Patients in Methadone Maintenance Programs As Come-Back to Population Norm. The Journal of Czech Physicians. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18777802/. 2008. Accessed July 2022.

Medically Reviewed 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 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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