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How to Get Emergency Suboxone

Suboxone is a huge support in recovery from opioid use disorder, but regulations make getting emergency Suboxone challenging.

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In this article

For those with opioid use disorder (OUD), access to treatments like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) can be a huge support to their recovery. Suboxone alleviates withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it an effective tool for managing OUD and opioid dependence.

However, getting emergency Suboxone can be challenging. In this article, we’ll explore the steps to obtaining emergency Suboxone treatment, helping individuals get the care they need in times of opioid crisis.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid dependence and addiction. The opioids in question may include heroin, fentanyl, or prescription pain relievers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine.

Suboxone contains two active ingredients:

  1. Buprenorphine: A partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine works by binding to the same receptors in the brain as other opioids and partially activating them. It relieves cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing the euphoric effects of other opioids.
  2. Naloxone: An opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids and is included to prevent misuse of Suboxone.

Buprenorphine/naloxone is available in a few different forms, including sublingual tablets and sublingual films. Under the brand name Suboxone, it is a sublingual film.

Suboxone is a controlled medication that is classified as a Schedule III prescription drug. This means the prescribing and dispensing of it is regulated, as well as tracked by Prescription Medication Monitoring Programs. Because of this, getting emergency Suboxone isn’t easy.

How to get emergency Suboxone treatment

If you or someone you know requires emergency Suboxone treatment, follow any of these ways to get help promptly:

  • Emergency department—Many people begin Suboxone in a hospital emergency department, often when they come into the department already in withdrawal from opioids, but also after they’ve been treated for overdose. Emergency department physicians can and do prescribe and administer Suboxone. Physicians in emergency departments can dispense a three-day supply of Suboxone that patients can take home with them, but they can’t write an on-going prescription. Research shows that half of the people who begin buprenorphine treatment in emergency departments remain in treatment 30 days later than people.
  • Urgent care clinic—Providers in walk-in urgent care clinics are also able to prescribe an 3-day supply of Suboxone. However, they are often less willing to do so than emergency department physicians.
  • Contact your healthcare provider—In 2023, the regulations changed to allow more healthcare providers to prescribe buprenorphine. Now all physicians who have received the training to prescribe controlled substances can prescribe Suboxone. If an individual is in withdrawal from opioids or is ready to begin Suboxone treatment, they can contact their primary care physician to request a Suboxone prescription. The caveat here is that many healthcare providers who don’t specialize in addiction medicine are wary of prescribing Suboxone and may not be willing to do so.
  • In-person addiction specialist—A rehab center or office-based addiction medicine provider will be familiar with Suboxone and may be willing to write an emergency prescription. They will likely require a urine drug screen and may administer an assessment to measure withdrawal symptoms. The NAABT has a directory called Treatment Match which can help you locate providers in your area.
  • Work with a telehealth company like Workit HealthWorkit Health is a telehealth addiction treatment company with providers who are experienced in prescribing Suboxone. An evaluation is required before any provider can prescribe Suboxone, and at Workit Health this evaluation takes place via video appointment. It is not possible to guarantee an emergency appointment slot will be available, but after a Workit member does have their first appointment, most can get their meds from the pharmacy that same day.

What if I run out of Suboxone and need an emergency refill?

Ideally, everyone in Suboxone treatment will take their prescription as prescribed, attend follow-up appointments on schedule, and have their prescriptions filled by the pharmacy in a timely manner.  But if something happens to your medication—for example, your medication is destroyed, lost, or stolen—it is possible to run out unexpectedly. This can also happen if you miss an appointment or run into problems at the pharmacy. If this happens, you need to contact your provider ASAP to report the issue. They may be able to send an emergency Suboxone prescription to the pharmacy. This is not guaranteed, though.

At Workit Health, early refills for lost or stolen medication are at the discretion of the provider. In some cases, some providers may request a police report, if applicable.

Follow-up care and support

After receiving emergency Suboxone treatment, follow the prescribed dosing and scheduling instructions carefully. This medication needs to be started when you’re at the correct stage of withdrawal symptoms, or you risk precipitated withdrawal. Suboxone must be placed under the tongue or inside the cheek and allowed to dissolve, as it will not be effective if swallowed. Avoid using other opioids or alcohol while taking Suboxone.

Ongoing Suboxone treatment requires regular follow-up appointments and urine drug screens.

Your healthcare provider may also recommend support services. This may include regular visits with healthcare providers, counseling or therapy sessions, and participation in support groups or peer recovery networks to address the underlying issues contributing to opioid dependence.

Registered nurse and freelance writer Esther Seun is dedicated to educating others about the complexities of health, wellness, and beauty with carefully researched content.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. Workit Health, Inc. and its affiliated professional entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

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