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Suboxone Inpatient Treatment

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Oct 6, 2023 • 4 cited sources

Inpatient Suboxone care involves moving out of your home and into a facility. A team manages your medications, offers therapy, and supervises your recovery. 

Inpatient treatment is usually reserved for those with severe opioid use disorders, medical issues or others who need additional support in the early days of treatment.

What Is Suboxone Treatment?

Suboxone is a brand-name drug that includes buprenorphine with naloxone. This combination of drugs is effective as part of a treatment plan for opioid use disorders (OUDs).

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone is an opioid antagonist.[1] Suboxone, along with methadone, is considered the gold standard of treatment for OUD in the United States.

Because the buprenorphine in Suboxone is an opioid, it works as a substitute for other opioids, preventing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 

Suboxone has a ceiling effect, where the intensity of pain relief and euphoria stops increasing at higher doses. This trait makes it difficult to overdose or get high from the medication. It’s comparatively safer than full opioids.[1]

Suboxone’s efficacy in treating OUD has been proven in studies.[2] Combined with a comprehensive treatment plan, Suboxone can be an excellent tool to help people overcome struggles with opioid misuse.

What Is Inpatient Suboxone Treatment?

Inpatient treatment involves staying at a facility and receiving 24/7 care for OUD. Depending on your needs, an inpatient stay may last days to multiple weeks. 

The goal of inpatient treatment is to get you to a place where you are physically and mentally well enough to transition back into a more regular lifestyle.

Inpatient Suboxone treatment doesn’t only involve Suboxone. You may also access additional support and resources, including the following:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group activities
  • Medical treatment, if needed 
  • Skill-building sessions, such as how to build a strong support network to better resist drug misuse 

How Does Inpatient Differ From Outpatient Suboxone Treatment?

Inpatient treatment is very different from outpatient treatment. It is more appropriate for those with severe OUD or co-occurring disorders.

Outpatient treatment programs may include the same elements as inpatient care, including these:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Supervised medication administration 

But your treatment sessions may be less frequent and intense. You stay at home at night and go to a facility anywhere from daily to weekly.

How Does Suboxone Inpatient Treatment Work?

Inpatient programs are customized based on where you are now and where you want to go. But most follow a predictable set of steps. 

An inpatient treatment program typically involves these aspects:

  • Planning: You meet with admissions counselors and discuss which drugs you used, how often you’ve tried to get sober and what you want from your future. 
  • Programming: The team outlines which treatments might work best for you. You decide which plan works best for you. 
  • Admission: You move into the facility. You leave all of your drugs behind and agree to follow the rules of the new facility.
  • Routine: You spend all day working on addressing your OUD within the facility. Your schedule is set, and it doesn’t vary that much from one day to the next.
  • Planning: As you improve, your team discusses your next steps. Typically, that means moving into an outpatient treatment program. 

Is Inpatient Suboxone Treatment Better Than Outpatient Care?

Inpatient care is different from outpatient care, but one isn’t necessarily better than another. These are designed for different people or people at different stages of the recovery process. 

Inpatient care might be a good choice for people in crisis and those who continually struggle to manage their drug misuse despite repeated efforts. It might be particularly good for individuals who do not have a strong support system or who have unstable housing or living environments. 

Outpatient treatment is a good option for people with more control over their lives or a solid support system at home. These individuals misuse drugs but don’t consider themselves in crisis. Or they may have finished inpatient programs and are ready for more independence in recovery. Researchers say outpatient care is a viable treatment option that improves outcomes for participants.[3]

Overcoming Misconceptions About Inpatient Suboxone Treatment 

Many people have misconceptions about Suboxone. Some view it as “trading one addiction for another” or think it has misuse potential. The evidence doesn’t support this, especially when the drug is taken as directed.[4]

A person can become physically dependent on Suboxone. This is different than addiction. Physical dependence can cause withdrawal when you quit. 

Multiple medications, including antidepressants, cause physical dependence. And yet, we don’t think of antidepressants as being addictive. We never say that someone with depression is “addicted” to their antidepressant medication.

Extensive evidence shows that Suboxone can help people to safely quit misusing opioids. It is currently considered one of the best and safest treatments for OUD.

If you think an outpatient or inpatient treatment program would be helpful for you in your recovery, reach out to your doctor or us here at Bicycle Health to better understand your options. We’re ready to help you take the first step on your journey to a better future.

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Buprenorphine sublingual and buccal (opioid dependence). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published May 15, 2023. Accessed August 4, 2023. 
  2. Liebschutz JM, Crooks D, Herman D, et al. Buprenorphine treatment for hospitalized, opioid-dependent patients: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(8):1369–1376. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.2556 
  3. Sittambalam CD, Vij R, Ferguson RP. Buprenorphine Outpatient Outcomes Project: Can Suboxone be a viable outpatient option for heroin addiction?. J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2014;4(2):10.3402/jchimp.v4.22902. Published 2014 Apr 14. doi:10.3402/jchimp.v4.22902 
  4. Effective treatment for opioid addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published November 2016. Accessed August 4, 2023.

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