Suboxone: The Side Effects and Symptoms One Should Not Miss

Last Updated: December 19, 2019

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Suboxone is a combination drug for patients who have become addicts of narcotic (opioid) pain medications. They include heroin, morphine, and codeine. It contains two drug molecules; Buprenorphine and Naloxone.
Using this drug, it’s possible to prevent or even eliminate withdrawal symptoms that occur when people become addicts to narcotics. Of course, like any other medication, Suboxone has its own share of undesirable effects. Above all, one should learing about the side effects of Suboxone. As a result, it may help to minimize the risk or avoid complications that may occur during the therapy.
Side effects of a medication are undesirable effects that occur while user is taking it. In some cases, the side effects may linger even after the patient has discontinued the therapy. One can categorize the side effects of Suboxone into Major, Minor, and Long-term. This is for the ease of recognition and help one gauge the severity.

Major Side Effects of Suboxone

These unintended signs and symptoms associated with the use of Suboxone warrant an immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, failure to do so may result in serious complications. Here is a list of the major side effects of Suboxone:Suboxone pills

  • A cough or changes in voice such as hoarseness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness due to low blood pressure
  • Feeling of warmth or cold
  • Fever or chills
  • Flushing on the face and neck
  • Headache
  • Pain in the lower back or side
  • Pain while urinating
  • Sweating
  • Yellowish skin, eyes and dark urine indicating jaundice

Minor Side Effects of Suboxone

Generally, these are not serious in nature and most of them go away after a few weeks of treatment. Nevertheless, if any of the following side effects persist or cause trouble, a patient should consult the doctor.

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Disturbances in bowel evacuation
  • Increased nasal discharge
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in stomach
  • Sleep problems
  • Sneezing
  • Weakness

What are the Long-term Side Effects of Suboxone?

Being an opioid itself, Suboxone can also become habit-forming after long term use. In fact, one may also experience some of the side effects even after discontinuing the therapy. The long term side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Abdominal problems like constipation, nausea, and vomiting
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Increased pain sensitivity
  • Mental confusion and disorientation
  • Unable to socialize

These problems can wreak havoc in social and personal relations increasing isolation and depression. In addition, the individual may have to bear the brunt of a strained relationship with the loved ones.

What are the Symptoms that Need Emergency Medical Attention for Suboxone?

There are basically two situations when one needs to seek emergency medical help. They are:

Allergic reactions:

Allergic reactions can occur with any medication. The symptoms of allergy develop when immune cells launch an abnormal response to the medication or its constituents. Therefore, they also call allergic reactions hypersensitivity. If a person has known hypersensitivity to Suboxone or any of the ingredients, they should inform a doctor in advance. While on therapy, one should watch for the following signs and symptoms of allergy. Then, seek emergency help if any of them occur,

  • Abnormal heartbeats, too fast or too slow
  • Breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath, rapid shallow breathing, tightness in the chest
  • Hives on the skin
  • Swollen lips, face, and tongue


The patient might accidentally take more than the proper quantity of Suboxone in a single dose. As a result, it can lead to certain symptoms that indicate poisoning. These symptoms appear after the blood level of the drug reaches above the toxic concentration. Overdosing with Suboxone is more common in those who have previous mental illness diagnosis or other socioeconomic problems. In a few cases, accidental poisoning may also occur. Has someone taking Suboxone developed one or more of the following symptoms? Make sure to consult a doctor right away.:

  • Bluish skin, lips or nails
  • Convulsions
  • Constricted pupils
  • Decreased respiration
  • Excessive restlessness
  • Feeling very weak
  • Mental confusion
  • Severe dizziness especially when changing position or getting up
  • Unusual nervousness
  • Wet skin due to unusual sweating

Minimizing Suboxone Side Effects

Side effects of Suboxone make it necessary to exercise special precautions while using it. As a result, one should follow theie doctor’s instructions and medication guide. This way, the patient can minimize the incidence and severity of the side effects.

Suboxone is a very potent medication with a high risk of abuse and overdose potential. Unfortunately, some of the side effects of Suboxone can be serious at times. They include respiratory depression, low blood pressure, jaundice and excessive restlessness. Therefore, each individual needs to use it properly and as recommended.

Addiction is a chronic disorder that requires a collaborative effort from family, friends and concerned healthcare staff. A combination of medications and a strong support system often works wonders to help one live a drug-free life.
Addiction centers have a qualified team dedicated to providing all kinds of necessary services. They will help one get back to normal life. The team comprises of well trained and qualified physicians, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and auxiliary health care professionals. They all work together to design addiction treatment plans that are specific to the personal needs.

Page Sources

  1. Magnelli F. Safety and efficacy of buprenorphine/naloxone in opioid-dependent patients: an Italian observational study. Clinical Drug Investigation. 2010; 30 Suppl 1:21-6. doi: 10.2165/11536010-000000000-00000.
  2. The US Food and Drug Administration. SUBOXONE®(buprenorphineandnaloxone). 2014.

Published on: March 15th, 2017

Updated on: December 19th, 2019

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.


Leave a comment

  • Mickey
    My sons doctor has had him on Suboxone for 6 years now. He is not the same person anymore. I have tried to tell his doctors and they just can’t do anything unless the patient asks for help. Meantime my son has threatened suicide, has express hopelessness, feels isolated even though people care about him tremendously. I firmly believe this mental health issues completely stem from long term use of this drug.
  • JW
    I am on suboxone for three years ,would like to taper off, taking two films every 12hrs.I believe i can do it however would like to take some valiums to help.What would you recommend ?I have a hard time socializing with my family.
  • Jackie hollis
    Im am haveing swelling and sometimes breathing problems on subxone.i need help because i dont know what to do and how to take makes my bp go up.ive had back surgery..i was on 2 norcos a day. My pain dr is pushing subxone on his patient s..