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Does Suboxone help with anxiety?

Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is not considered a treatment for anxiety, per se. However, studies show that Suboxone reduces anxiety when used for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) as a component of Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT). 

How does Suboxone reduce anxiety?

There are several reasons why Suboxone might help people feel less anxious. The first reason is that Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist that occupies and activates the same receptors in the brain that opioids activate, thereby blocking craving and relapse.  

The brain opioid system plays an important role in anxiety modulation. Any medication that activates brain opioid receptors, especially mu-opioid receptors, blocks anxious behavior and induces relaxation. 

Suboxone is a first-line, evidence-based treatment for OUD. Studies repeatedly have shown that Suboxone helps people stop using opioids and prevents overdose or death from opioids. 

Reduced engagement in the lifestyle, and the repeated cycles of intoxication and withdrawal, restore mental health in numerous ways.

Does Suboxone cause anxiety?

Anxiety is not typically seen with Suboxone.  

However, buprenorphine might trigger some anxiety symptoms during the initiation phase if there are still some residual opioids left in the system because it can precipitate opioid withdrawal

Therefore, it is important to work with your doctor on when and how to start buprenorphine, especially if you have recently been using other opioids.

Claire Wilcox, MD

Claire Wilcox, MD, is a general and addiction psychiatrist in private practice and an associate professor of translational neuroscience at the Mind Research Network in New Mexico; and has completed an addictions fellowship, psychiatry residency, and internal medicine residency. Having done extensive research in the area, she is an expert in the neuroscience of substance use disorders. Although she is interested in several topics in medicine and psychiatry, with a particular focus on substance use disorders, obesity, eating disorders, and chronic pain, her primary career goal is to help promote recovery and wellbeing for people with a range of mental health challenges.

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