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What do I do if I can't tolerate Suboxone?

Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is a safe and effective medication for opioid use disorder (OUD) when taken as prescribed under the consultation of a Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) provider

However, because every person is different, it is possible that some people may not be able to tolerate Suboxone therapy.

Reason why you might not be tolerating Suboxone

Multiple factors can determine whether or not someone tolerates Suboxone. They can be both predictable and not predictable. 

Some predictable reasons that someone may not tolerate a medication include:

  • Drug interactions with other medications
  • Drug overdose
  • Known side effects of the drug

Some unpredictable reasons for intolerance include:

  • An unknown side effect
  • Drug allergy
  • Genetics
  • Non-allergic reactions

Even if two people feel the same side effect, they can still experience different levels of severity. For example, two people may experience headaches (a common Suboxone side effect) but it may be minor in one person and severe in another.

What should I do if I feel like I can't tolerate Suboxone?

If you feel like you cannot tolerate Suboxone to the point where it interferes with your daily activities, you should contact your MAT provider immediately. 

If the side effect is severe, you should contact 911 and seek emergency help. If you stop taking Suboxone and do not contact your MAT provider, you may start to experience withdrawal symptoms, which could further complicate your well-being.

Your MAT provider is an expert on Suboxone therapy for OUD and will be able to help investigate the causes of your intolerance. 

If the intolerance is minor, then a risk-benefit analysis will help determine the next steps in therapy. If the intolerance is severe, they will help transition you to other forms of support to help manage opioid use disorder.

Dylan Kakos, PharmD

Dylan Kakos, PharmD, received his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Michigan and is a Medical Writer for Banner Medical, LLC.

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