Should I Take Suboxone Pills or Suboxone Strips?

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Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) in both the films/strips and tablets/pills formulations are equally effective in treating opioid cravings and withdrawal and preventing overdose and deaths.

The choice between pills and strips is personal. Some prefer the taste of strips over pills. Some prefer the experience of pills over the strips. And some must use the form of medication their insurance companies cover.

Who Chooses the Form of Suboxone You Take?

Usually, your insurance company determines which formulation of Suboxone they will cover and hence which formulation you will be prescribed.

Officials in Maryland, for example, changed Medicaid formularies in July 2016 and covered only tablets, not strips.[1]

Strips and tablets are considered interchangeable, so insurance companies might switch back and forth depending on availability and cost.[2] You could pay for your medication without insurance, but most people change when their coverage shifts.

Tablets may be less expensive than Suboxone films in some States, which is most notable for patients paying out-of-pocket for their medication.[2]

Film vs. Tablets: How Do You Take Them?

Whether you take pills or strips, it's critical to follow instructions. Your doctor should tell you exactly how to use your medication. But a few basic rules apply.

How to Use Suboxone Film

To use the film:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Remove the strip from protective packaging. 
  • Place the film under your tongue.
  • Wait until the strip is completely dissolved.

The films/strips dissolve faster than the tablets/pills, though both should be kept under the tongue for at least 5 minutes.

How to Use Suboxone Pills

Patients will often say they prefer the taste of one over the other, but this preference is often very individualized. If you don't like the strips, pills may be a better choice.

To use pills:

  • Wash your hands. 
  • Place your pill (or pills) under your tongue.
  • Wait until the pills are completely dissolved. 

Treat Your OUD

Whether you receive treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) films/strips or tablets/films, both are considered evidence-based, scientifically proven first-line Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) for patients struggling with opioid use disorder.

Sources

  1. Maryland Switches Opioid Treatments, and Some Patients Cry Foul. National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/07/19/486419277/maryland-switches-opioid-treatments-and-some-patients-cry-foul. July 2016. Accessed September 2022.
  2. Buprenorphine for Opioid Dependence: Are There Really Differences Between the Formulations? Mental Health Clinician. https://meridian.allenpress.com/mhc/article/4/1/17/37056/Buprenorphine-for-opioid-dependence-Are-there. January 2014. Accessed September 2022. 
  3. Buprenorphine with Naloxone for Opioid Dependence. NPS Medicinewise. https://www.nps.org.au/radar/articles/buprenorphine-with-naloxone-suboxone-sublingual-film-for-opiate-dependence. September 2011. Accessed September 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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