How is Suboxone Any Different than Heroin?

As one of the most powerful opiate drugs in existence, heroin use in any form poses a very real threat to a person’s mental and physical well-being. Much like the effects of cocaine abuse can quickly take over a person’s life, it doesn’t take very long at all before regular heroin use turns into a full-blown addiction problem.

For someone who’s used heroin for months or years at a time, the damaging effects of this drug not only make it difficult to stop using, but can also impede a person’s recovery efforts long after drug use ends. Suboxone, one of a handful of medications approved as a treatment for opiate addiction, directly addresses the physical damage left behind by chronic opiate abuse.

In terms of Suboxone’s chemical makeup, it does share certain similarities with heroin in terms of its mechanism of action, but these similarities stop short of producing the types of effects that drive abuse and addiction. Understanding how Suboxone works can help you in determining whether Suboxone treatment is right for you.

Suboxone’s Mechanism of Action


Suboxone greatly reduces the urge to use heroin.

Suboxone belongs to the opiate class of drugs, which is the same class as heroin. Suboxone, one of two brand name versions of buprenorphine, contains buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine produces many of the same effects as methadone, but carries a lower abuse and addiction potential. Naloxone, also an opiate, is commonly used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose. As an ingredient in Suboxone, naloxone acts as a deterrent to relapse in that it triggers uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms whenever a person tries to use addictive opiates like heroin, According to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Ultimately, it’s the buprenorphine ingredient that treats the physical damage to the brain’s chemical functions and restores a normal chemical balance. These interactions provide a person with considerable relief from the types of residual withdrawal and drug cravings effects that persist through the early stages of recovery. Over time, these effects greatly reduce the urge to abuse addictive opiates.

Please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 888-646-0865 (Who Answers?) for more information on Suboxone treatment programs.

Heroin’s Effects

Whereas Suboxone is specifically formulated to stabilize brain functioning, heroin forces the brain to secrete essential neurotransmitter chemicals in incredibly large amounts. These effects account for the “high” experience that heroin brings.

Over time, heroin’s effects on the brain’s chemical pathways changes its overall structure as well as changing how major brain centers work. With long-term heroin abuse, a person’s physical and psychological health sees considerable decline, making it all but impossible to function in daily life.

How Does Suboxone Aid Treatment in Drug Rehab

Suboxone Treatment Components

As a treatment approach, Suboxone treatment combines the therapeutic effects of the drug with behavior-based treatment interventions, This aspect of Suboxone treatment works to help a person replace destructive, addiction-based thinking and behavior with healthy ways of coping with daily life pressures, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Behavior-based interventions used include:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Support groups
  • Group-based therapies

As heroin addiction creates its own lifestyle that’s centered around using the drug, Suboxone treatment helps a person replace the addiction-lifestyle with a lifestyle that supports drug-free living.

For more information on Suboxone treatment programs, call our toll-free helpline at 888-646-0865 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addiction specialists.

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: PGH

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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