It’s common to wonder what the side effects are of any medication, but especially something like Suboxone (brand name for the generic buprenorphine/naloxone), which is used as an FDA-approved long-term maintenance treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD).
As a partial opioid agonist, it does activate opioid receptors but much less so than heroin or fentanyl, which are both full opioids. It’s for this reason that buprenorphine eliminates withdrawal and cravings without producing an opioid “high,” even at higher doses (a “ceiling effect”).
Here are the most common side effects of Suboxone (for sublingual tablets or sublingual films):
- Increased sweating
- Abdominal pain
- Low blood pressure
- Chronic pain
- Opioid withdrawal symptoms
As you may notice, insomnia is listed as a common side effect for Suboxone, especially as administered via sublingual films. And, as a result, this may lead to feelings of drowsiness, fatigue, and sedation. However, keep in mind that this typically only lasts for a few days — it’s not a permanent side effect. While experiencing symptoms of tiredness over the course of a treatment program, it’s recommended that patients avoid operating heavy machinery.
With Ophelia, you’ll be assigned a dedicated healthcare care team comprised of a prescribing clinical, nurse, and care coordinator to help you get on Suboxone comfortably and safely. In addition to discussing things like how long to wait after the last dose of an opioid you’re using regularly (oxycodone, oxycontin, hydrocodone, fentanyl, etc), we’ll also discuss what symptoms (such as drowsiness) to look out for and whether there are any additional medications to take during the induction period to better manage common side effects.
How to differentiate between normal drowsiness and drowsiness from a Suboxone overdose
You are far less likely to overdose on Suboxone than on other opioids/opiates since Suboxone doesn’t cause respiratory depression. However, an overdose is still possible if Suboxone is combined with other central nervous system depressants such as high doses of benzodiazepines, alcohol, and/or other sedatives. If your drowsiness is a symptom of a rare Suboxone overdose, it will likely also be accompanied by other more serious side effects, including nausea, vomiting, seizures, irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, slowed breathing, loss of physical coordination, and difficulty concentrating.
Have more questions?
Refer to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s site, which contains information on addiction treatment options for mental health and/or substance use disorders (both alcohol and drug abuse).