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Suboxone Pills vs. Strips: In-Depth Review of Each Form 

Suboxone pills and strips contain buprenorphine and naloxone. They are U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment programs. 

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Technically, they work in a very similar manner. In reality, you may prefer one format over the other. 

The best OUD treatment is the one you’ll use as directed as long as you need it. Your doctor can help you choose a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) format, but if you’re unhappy with it, don’t be afraid to make a switch. Your openness and honesty will allow your doctor to help you effectively. 

Comparing Suboxone Pills & Strips 

This chart can help you see the similarities and differences between Suboxone pills and strips at a glance:[1-4]

TabletsStrips
Dissolve time 7-12.4 minutes 5-6.6 minutes
Taste Lemon-limeOrange or mint 
Buprenorphine Dosages 2 mg to 8 mg2 mg to 12 mg
Bioavailability Lower than filmsHigher than tablets 
Cost $65-$85$57-$183
Insurance Typically coveredTypically covered 
Popularity Fewer patients preferMost patients prefer 

How Do These Forms of Suboxone Work? 

Among the main differences between Suboxone pills vs. strips is regarding how they’re taken. You may find that one is preferable to the other and easier for you to take. Here’s what you need to know. 

How to Take Suboxone Strips 

Suboxone strips are designed to sit underneath your tongue and dissolve. Researchers say it can take up to 6.6 minutes for the strip to melt away completely.[5]

Here’s how to take your strips:[5]

  • Open the package, and place the strip under your tongue. 
  • Keep the strip in place until it’s completely dissolved. 
  • Don’t eat or drink anything until the film is dissolved. 

How to Take Suboxone Pills 

Suboxone tablets also dissolve inside your mouth. Researchers say these tablets can take up to 12.4 minutes to melt away.[5]

Follow these directions to take Suboxone tablets:[2]

  • Open the bottle, and place the tablet under your tongue. 
  • Don’t chew or swallow the tablet, as it needs to dissolve to work. 
  • Don’t eat or drink anything until the entire tablet is dissolved. 

What Are the Main Differences Between These Formulations?

Personal preference can dictate which form of treatment you choose. In general, people tend to decide due to one of the following four factors: 

1. Time to Dissolve 

Researchers say the films tend to dissolve much quicker than the tablets do.[1] While you’re waiting for the products to melt away, you can’t do anything like drink, eat, or talk. 

You have to take your medication every day, and it must become part of your routine. If you can’t imagine setting aside up to 13 minutes every morning to work on your addiction, strips may be a better option as they dissolve faster. 

2. Ability to Make Mistakes 

Suboxone strips are sticky, and they’re very hard to remove from your mouth once they’re attached. Suboxone pills don’t adhere in the same manner, and some people spit out their dose before it’s been absorbed.[1] If you’re worried that you won’t wait for your medication to take hold, strips may be smarter. 

3. Flavors

Buprenorphine and naloxone are bitter-tasting, and manufacturers use flavorings to mask that and make the medication more pleasant. Both types of products have different flavor profiles. Some people simply prefer one over the other. 

4. Abuse Potential 

Strips are much harder to abuse than tablets, as they can’t be crushed and inhaled. While both products contain naloxone to keep them from getting people high when the drug is injected, some people still try to misuse them. If someone in your home is tempted to abuse medications and might try to misuse your Suboxone, strips may be a slightly safer choice. 

Are They Both Effective for OUD Treatment? 

Researchers say that strips have a slightly higher bioavailability than tablets.[1] If you swap one product for another, you may need a subtle dose adjustment. However, both products are very effective in helping people to deal with OUD. 

Which One Is Right for Me? 

Only you will know which formulation of Suboxone is right for you, and it’s fine to experiment until you find the perfect fit. Work with your doctor to narrow down your choices, and speak up if you think you made a mistake. Together, you can find the right option for your recovery. 

Updated March 17, 2024
Resources
  1. Graham R. Buprenorphine for opioid dependence: Are there differences between the formulations? Mental Health Clinician. 2014;4(1):17-21.
  2. Suboxone tablet prescribing information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published October 2019. Accessed March 1, 2024.
  3. Buprenorphine/naloxone prices, coupons, and patient assistance programs. Drugs.com. Accessed March 1, 2024.
  4. Suboxone film prescribing information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published November 2013. Accessed March 1, 2024.
  5. Buprenorphine with naloxone (Suboxone sublingual film) for opiate dependence. NPS Medicinewise. Published September 1, 2011. Accessed March 1, 2024.
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