Can a Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Suboxone?

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Nurse practitioners can prescribe Suboxone, although the exact regulations on their ability to prescribe vary. Prescribing Suboxone usually requires a special waiver, but nurse practitioners can get this waiver. 

Are Nurse Practitioners Able to Prescribe Suboxone?

Nurse practitioners can prescribe medications, although the specific regulations vary by state.[1] Some states require that nurses have varying degrees of oversight from doctors when prescribing medications.

The process of prescribing Suboxone is somewhat more limited. In most states (although not all), Suboxone prescribers need to obtain a waiver in order to prescribe Suboxone, but nurse practitioners are able to obtain these waivers.

Nurse practitioners who have a waiver to prescribe Suboxone may still sometimes encounter barriers when prescribing them. For example, some states limit the number of patients a nurse practitioner is able to prescribe for at a given time [2] 

Who Else Can Prescribe Suboxone other than a physician?

The short answer of who can prescribe Suboxone is “anyone with a waiver to do so.” Most of the time, this is either a physician (M.D. or D.O.) or a mid-level provider such as a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.

Special circumstances exist that allow a practitioner to prescribe or at least administer the medication even when they normally couldn’t. For example, a practitioner can request a temporary increase in the number of patients they can prescribe Suboxone to in certain emergency circumstances.[3]

They’re also allowed to administer what is sometimes called a “bridge dose” of Suboxone for up to three days even if they don’t have the proper waiver if Suboxone may serve as a legitimate emergency treatment for a patient’s withdrawal symptoms.[3]

How to Find a Suboxone Provider

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a helpful tool for people looking for a Suboxone provider. Their buprenorphine practitioner locator can help you identify which providers are nearby.[4] The tool lists nearly all providers who have waivers, with the exception of the few that would prefer their information not be available with the tool.

SAMHSA’s tool is easy to use. By putting in your address, you can quickly see all providers within a set geographic range and get their names and contact information. Then, you can call for more information about their available drug treatment options.

Resources

  1. Can a Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Medication? Nurse.org. https://nurse.org/education/nurse-practitioner-prescribe-medication/. January 2021. Accessed July 2022. 
  2. Prescribing Practices of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Waivered to Prescribe Buprenorphine and the Barriers They Experience Prescribing Buprenorphine. The Journal of Rural Health. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31650634/. March 2020. Accessed July 2022. 
  3. Special Circumstances for Providing Buprenorphine. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/statutes-regulations-guidelines/special-circumstances. April 2022. Accessed July 2022. 
  4. Buprenorphine Practitioner Locator. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/find-treatment/treatment-practitioner-locator. Accessed July 2022.

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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