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What Is the Best Way to Take Suboxone?

Suboxone comes in several different formulations and strengths, and can also be given anywhere from one to three times per day, depending on your needs. When you start taking the medication, your doctor will tell you when and how to take the medication. And you'll have a chance to ask questions about how the drug should be used and stored.

While every individual should discuss a plan for how to take their Suboxone, what dose, and what frequency, this article can give you more information about what to expect prior to coming up with an individualized plan with your doctor. 

How to Take Suboxone: Step by Step

Suboxone comes in several formulations, but by far the two most common formulations are  strips/films or tablets. Your doctor will demonstrate how to use your product. Typically, administration follows a few basic steps. 

Sublingual Strips

Suboxone strips are placed under the tongue to dissolve, almost like a mint. When you take your strip: [1]

  • Prepare. Wash and dry your hands. Tear along the dotted line and remove the film with your fingers, trying to hold it on the edges 
  • Place. Place the film under your tongue 
  • Wait. Press the film inside your cheek for a few minutes to make sure it sticks. This usually takes one to two minutes. 
  • Rinse. After the strip is entirely dissolved, you may have a little residue in your mouth. You can either swallow this residue or, if you don’t like the taste or it bothers your stomach, you can spit it out. Wait 5- 10 minutes before drinking water in order to make sure the substance is fully dissolved. 

Dissolving Tablets

Tablets are slightly less common than the film form of the medication, but are another option particularly for patients who cannot tolerate the films. They are administered very similarly to the strips: [2]

  • Grab. Take a full tablet from the bottle. Don't break or grind it. 
  • Place. Put the tablet underneath your tongue. 
  • Wait. Let the tablet dissolve completely. This usually takes one to three minutes
  • Repeat. If you must take more than one tablet and can't fit them both under your tongue, follow these same steps. 

How Your Doctor Determines Your Suboxone Dose

Some people need just one strip or tablet. Others need multiple. Your doctor will work with you to find a dose that is just right for you.

Most people need between 2 mg and 32mg of medication per day[3] Your dose may be higher or lower depending on your symptom severity.

Typically, your doctor will begin with a very small dose, 2- 4 mg daily. You'll stay in touch with them about your symptoms over the first few days. If you're still feeling cravings, you may need a higher dose.

If you forget or miss a dose of Suboxone, don't take multiple doses at once without talking to your doctor.[4]

A Few Other Tips for Proper Suboxone Use

Store your medications safely where others can't find them, as these medications can be diverted. Make sure you store them in a cool, dry place.

Since all buprenorphine formulations dissolve in your mouth, take care of your teeth. Make sure you are keeping up with twice a day teeth brushing. These steps can help ensure that the sticky ingredients inside your medications don't harm your teeth or cause cavities.[5]

Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions - taking Suboxone properly is more complicated than simply swallowing a pill and can take a few tries to get the hang of it - If you have questions about how to properly administer your Suboxone, talk to your doctor.

References

  1. Starting Treatment. Belbuca. https://www.belbuca.com/starting-treatment. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Suboxone Sublingual Tablets. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/020733s024lbl.pdf. December 2019. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Buprenorphine: An Overview for Clinicians. California Health Care Foundation. https://www.chcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/BuprenorphineOverviewClinicians.pdf. August 2019. Accessed June 2022.
  1. Suboxone Sublingual Film. Suboxone.com. https://www.suboxone.com/pdfs/medication-guide.pdf. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Buprenorphine: Drug Safety Communication. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/safety/medical-product-safety-information/buprenorphine-drug-safety-communication-fda-warns-about-dental-problems-buprenorphine-medicines. January 2022. Accessed June 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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