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Suboxone - How it works at WellStep

How SUBOXONE works

1. When opioids attach to the mu receptors, dopamine is released, causing pleasurable feelings to be produced.1,2

2. As opioids leave the receptors, pleasurable feelings fade and withdrawal symptoms (and possibly cravings) begin.1

3. Opioids continue leaving the mu receptors until the person is in a mild-to-moderate state of withdrawal. At this point, SUBOXONE therapy can begin.

4. The primary active ingredient in SUBOXONE-buprenorphine-attaches to the empty opioid receptors, suppressing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.1 As a partial opioid agonist, SUBOXONE works by controlling withdrawal symptoms and cravings and produces a limited euphoria or “high.”1

5. Buprenorphine attaches firmly to the receptors. At adequate maintenance doses, buprenorphine fills most receptors and blocks other opioids from attaching. Buprenorphine has a long duration of action, so its effects do not wear off quickly.


1. Johnson RE, Strain EC, Amass L. Buprenorphine: how to use it right. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003;70(suppl 2):S59-S77.

2. Walsh SL, Eissenberg T. The clinical pharmacology of buprenorphine: extrapolating from the laboratory to the clinic. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003;70(suppl 2):S13-S27.

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How to take SUBOXONE