How can I make Suboxone absorb better?

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The best way to make Suboxone absorb better is to take your medication exactly as your treatment team tells you to. That means don't chew, swallow, sniff, snort, or otherwise adjust your medication.

When taken properly, medications like Suboxone are incredibly helpful in treating opioid use disorders (OUDs). In one study, 100% of people taking a placebo relapsed to opioid use, as compared to just 25% of people taking a buprenorphine-based medication (like Suboxone). [1]

If you take your medication as directed, you have the best chance of achieving a similar success rate. If you want to ensure each dose works properly, following a few basic steps could be helpful:

How to Maximize Suboxone Absorption 

Suboxone is a little more tricky to administer than most medications because it is not a pill, but a strip (or, less commonly, a dissolvable tablet). Every Suboxone prescription comes with a label and an instructions guide, describing how to use the drug properly. [2] Read that document, and you'll become familiar with how to take Suboxone. 

Steps to maximize Suboxone absorption include the following:

  • Check about taking Suboxone along with other medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements can change the way Suboxone gets absorbed. Tell your treatment provider about everything you take to make sure none of it potentially interacts with the absorption of your Suboxone. 
  • Moisten your mouth. A sip of water swished around your mouth could allow your dose to dissolve a little faster. 
  • Let the drug dissolve. Put Suboxone tablets under your tongue or into your cheek (as directed by your doctor). Let the medication dissolve completely. This usually takes anywhere from a minute to five minutes. 
  • Don't help the drug dissolve. Suboxone's active ingredients need contact with your oral membranes. If you chew and swallow your tablets or strips, you reduce the drug's effectiveness. 
  • Stay quiet. Talking while your drug dissolves could reduce effectiveness. Keep calm and quiet until the medication completely melts.
  • Keep it closed. Air inside your mouth could change how your tablets and strips melt. Close your lips tightly until the medication is completely gone. 

Tips for Increasing Suboxone Absorption 

Suboxone is relatively easy to use. You don't need to cook it, heat it, or otherwise manipulate your doses to make them work. But what you do right after placing Suboxone in your mouth can have a big impact on how much of the active ingredient enters your bloodstream. 

To ensure you're getting the help you need from each Suboxone dose, follow these tips:[3]

  • Don't alter it. Moving the tablets or film makes your medication less effective. Place your dose in your mouth, and leave it there. 
  • Don't tamper with it. Injecting Suboxone won't get you high. Instead, people who shoot up Suboxone tend to feel incredibly sick. 
  • Don't overlap doses. Some people need more than one Suboxone strip for OUD treatment. If you're using two strips at once, ensure they don't touch one another inside your mouth. 
  • Don't pile on doses. If you need more than two strips, wait until your first strips are completely dissolved before adding more to your mouth. 

What if These Steps Don’t Work?

If you've followed all the instructions and tips available to make Suboxone absorb better and you still don't feel relief, your Suboxone dose may be too low. 

Talk to your doctor about the steps you've tried and the symptoms you're feeling. A minor adjustment in your medication dose could help you feel better and more in control of your OUD. 

SOURCES

1. How Effective Are Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder? National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/efficacy-medications-opioid-use-disorder. December 2021. Accessed October 2022. 

2. Suboxone Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/020733s022lbl.pdf. February 2018. Accessed October 2022. 

3. Buprenorphine with Naloxone (Suboxone Sublingual Film) Opiate Dependence. NPS Newswise. https://www.nps.org.au/radar/articles/buprenorphine-with-naloxone-suboxone-sublingual-film-for-opiate-dependence. September 2011. Accessed October 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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