Medications like Suboxone are important in treating opioid use disorder (OUD). Suboxone is one of three FDA approved medications for OUD, and can be lifesaving. Unfortunately, Suboxone can still be hard to get.
Currently, you must get a prescription from a licensed provider, which can take time and make it difficult, particularly if you are acutely withdrawing from opioids. Some experts argue that small supplies of buprenorphine should be available without a prescription for emergency use to prevent patients from opioid misuse while they seek more long-term help. But the laws haven’t caught up with this opinion. You still need a prescription for use.
If you need Suboxone for an OUD, you have options. A visit to an emergency room, urgent care clinic, or your doctor might be helpful. You could also work with online clinics like Bicycle Health to get emergency Suboxone.
Suboxone is a prescription medication, and it appears on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Schedule III list. Schedule III drugs have a low potential for physical and psychological dependence. They have a valid medical purpose, but they can be misused.
Before 2006, doctors were required to complete detailed training programs and maintain a special license to prescribe buprenorphine products like Suboxone. Since then, the rules have relaxed in order to help expand access to this medication for more individuals with OUD.
As of 2023, any doctor with the authority to prescribe Schedule III drugs can prescribe buprenorphine medications like Suboxone legally without additional licensure.
Suboxone works best as part of Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) programs. Your prescription is combined with therapy, so you learn how to build a life that supports your recovery.
Doctors you see in passing (in an emergency room or urgent care clinic) can't ensure you're participating in therapy. They may not be comfortable giving you this medication without ensuring you're dedicated to staying on it long term.
Since 2002, emergency room doctors have been able to administer buprenorphine products for opioid withdrawal. Usually, ED doctors will prescribe a few days supply, long enough for the individual to get in touch with a more long term prescriber. 
Emergency rooms aren't made to help you manage a chronic condition like opioid use disorder. While a doctor might use Suboxone to help you get through the pain of drug withdrawal, you’ll need a different type of clinic to help you truly recover. However, if you are desperate, the ED can be a good place to start: not only can they get you a temporary supply of Suboxone, but they are often equipped to get you a referral to a detox facility or to a primary care or addiction specialist who can continue to prescribe Suboxone for you more long term.
The United States has more than 9,000 urgent care centers. People with conditions that aren't quite serious enough for the emergency room but too difficult to handle at home can get the help they need in facilities like this.
Doctors in urgent care centers face the same guidelines and limitations emergency room doctors do in terms of prescribing Suboxone. They may be able to provide a temporary supply, but not a long term prescription.
Just as you can't treat a chronic condition in an emergency room, you shouldn't use an urgent care clinic to help with OUD long term. However, starting with urgent might be a good first step, as they may be able to get you a short term supply of Suboxone and connect you with resources to set you up with a more long term prescription and care team.
Probably the best and most common way to get Suboxone is to get it from your primary care office.
Before 2023, doctors needed special licenses to treat patients with Suboxone. As part of that license, they needed to apply for a waiver from drug enforcement authorities. Now, federal laws allow primary care doctors currently able to offer Schedule III medications to offer Suboxone. This means that many more doctors are able to legally prescribe Suboxone to patients in need.
While many primary care doctors now feel comfortable prescribing Suboxone, some may still not feel comfortable and may prefer to refer you to an addiction specialist or psychiatrist. Ask your primary care doctor if they prescribe Suboxone and, if they do not, if they can refer you to a doctor that does.
Patients wait an average of 26 days to see their primary care doctors. If you need emergency Suboxone, you must tell the office staff that you can’t wait for an appointment to open up. They may be able to get you a more urgent appointment.
Telemedicine has revolutionized almost every part of health care, including online Suboxone therapy and Suboxone prescriptions. Bicycle Health can connect you with licensed, qualified professionals who can manage your OUD recovery, including your Suboxone prescription.
Getting started with Bicycle Health is easy. Follow these steps:
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