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How does Suboxone work in the brain?

How Suboxone works in the brain

In the brain, buprenorphine molecules (the main ingredient in Suboxone) attaches to opioid receptors, which are molecules embedded in the surface of the receiving parts of certain brain cells (the molecules that bind to receptors are called ‘ligands’). Opioid receptors carry out certain actions when activated by any opiate or opioid, whether it is buprenorphine, pain pills, or heroin. But buprenorphine is unique from other opioids in that there is a ceiling to the drugs’ actions.

Once the blood level of buprenorphine is above a certain point, further increases in buprenorphine cause no greater effect on opioid pathways. The effect allows the blood level of buprenorphine to vary from dosing and metabolism of the drug, without causing a change in the activity of opioid pathways.

Finally, opioid pathways fire more rapidly during Suboxone use after receptors are activated. The pathways then activate a number of areas in the brain and spinal cord, with effects on pain sensation, mood, and a wide range of bodily functions.

Photo credit: Wiki Media Commons

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5 Responses to “How does Suboxone work in the brain?
Karen
2:46 am August 17th, 2014

I just started using suboxone on Tuesday night I have not sleep in 4 nights I no that this is a side effect but I am getting scared I am over medicated by my dr

Shelly
7:13 pm March 1st, 2015

How long should one be prescribed suboxone before lowering dose?

11:54 am March 2nd, 2015

Hello Shelly. There is no general timeline, but suboxone maintenance treatment for opioid addiction can last for at least a year, up to two-three years. When a person develops coping skills, new positive behaviors and builds a new lifestyle, doses can start to be gradually reduced. This gradual tapering, eventually ends with a complete cessation of suboxone treatment.

Arashaad
1:00 am January 10th, 2016

I am addicted to heroin and would diee to stop, but I cant afford medication. Please help

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
7:08 pm January 10th, 2016

Hi, Arashad. I’d suggest you contact our trusted treatment provider to learn more about your treatment options. The number is displayed on the site. Good luck!

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About Dr. Jeffrey Junig, MD, PhD

Dr. Jeffrey Junig, MD, PhD is a psychiatrist practicing in northeast Wisconsin, in recovery from opioid dependence. He is Board Certified in both Psychiatry and Anesthesiology and holds a PhD in Neuroscience. He writes about buprenorphine at Suboxone Talk Zone, and manages a forum for patients taking buprenorphine called SuboxForum.

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