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Is Suboxone an opiate?

No, Suboxone is NOT an “opiate” but it IS an “opioid.”

“Opioid” is an umbrella term, and opiates fall under this umbrella: Opiates are natural opioids, meaning that they come from opium, an ingredient in poppy plants. Opiates include morphine and codeine. So, for example, if you take tylenol-3 (tylenol with codeine), you are taking in a natural opiate.

Opioids, on the other hand, are alterations of these natural opiates, in which the opiate has been modified in the lab to create a semi-synthetic version. These include things like heroin, oxycodone (in Percocet), hydrocodone (in Vicodin), and hydromorphone (also known as Dilaudid).

Then there are other opioids, which are completely man-made in a lab. They are NOT derived from natural opiates. These include things like buprenorphine (Suboxone), methadone, and tramadol.

Rebekah L. Rollston, MD, MPH

Rebekah L. Rollston, MD, MPH, is a board-certified Family Medicine Physician and Head of Research at Bicycle Health. She earned her Medical Degree from East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine (in the Rural Primary Care Track) and her Master of Public Health (MPH) from The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Dr. Rollston completed her residency at Tufts University and Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard-affiliated community healthcare system in Greater Boston, with emphases in addiction medicine and sexual & reproductive health. Her professional interests focus on social determinants of health & health equity, addiction medicine, gender-based violence, sexual & reproductive health, rural health, homelessness & supportive housing, and immigrant health. Dr. Rollston has published on these topics in The Lancet, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, American Journal of Health Promotion, Journal of Appalachian Health, and Medical Care.

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Rebekah L. Rollston, MD, MPH

Rebekah L. Rollston, MD, MPH, is a board-certified Family Medicine Physician and Head of Research at Bicycle Health. She earned her Medical Degree from East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine (in the Rural Primary Care Track) and her Master of Public Health (MPH) from The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Dr. Rollston completed her residency at Tufts University and Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard-affiliated community healthcare system in Greater Boston, with emphases in addiction medicine and sexual & reproductive health. Her professional interests focus on social determinants of health & health equity, addiction medicine, gender-based violence, sexual & reproductive health, rural health, homelessness & supportive housing, and immigrant health. Dr. Rollston has published on these topics in The Lancet, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, American Journal of Health Promotion, Journal of Appalachian Health, and Medical Care.

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