Compare Suboxone vs. naloxone

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Suboxone (buprenorphine / naloxone)

Prescription only

Narcan (naloxone)

Prescription only
Treats opioid addiction.

Suboxone (buprenorphine / naloxone) works well to reduce cravings and treat opioid dependence. It's most effective if you have an addiction to heroin or short-acting opioids.

5.6/ 7 average rating with 35 reviewsforSuboxone
Helps people breathe during an opioid overdose.

Narcan (naloxone) is used in an emergency if you think someone has overdosed on opioids. It only works for a few minutes and you'll need to call for emergency help.

  • Suboxone (buprenorphine / naloxone) works best for people addicted to short-acting opioids or heroin.
  • Your doctor can adjust the dose to a level that controls withdrawal symptoms until you're stable.
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine / naloxone) has fewer side effects and drug interactions compared to other similar medicines.
  • Can help save the life of someone who has overdosed on opioid drugs.
  • One brand of Narcan (naloxone) comes as a take-home auto-injection system with voice directions that talk you through giving Narcan (naloxone) in an emergency situation.
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine / naloxone) is not as good for people who are dependent on long-acting opioids or methadone because of the risk of a long withdrawal.
  • Like all opioids, it can cause slowed breathing, coma, and death from overdose, especially if you mix with other depressants, like pain medicine or alcohol.
  • You have to be very careful with your dose. Changing the size or strength of a film can affect the amount of drug absorbed into your body, and could cause under- or over-dosing.
  • The film can cause reduced sensation in your mouth, painful burning tongue, or burning mouth syndrome.
  • The film may not be appropriate for you if you have lung disease.
  • Narcan (naloxone) is to be given right away and does not take the place of emergency medical care. Get emergency medical help right away after the first dose, even if the person wakes up.
  • Repeat dosing of Narcan (naloxone) may be required in some cases where the opioid hangs around in the body for a long time.
  • Narcan (naloxone) can cause acute withdrawal symptoms (body aches, anxiety, sweating, vomiting, fast breathing, shivering) if the person has been using opioids regularly.
Used for
  • Opioid overdose
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Sublingual film
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Injection
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Side effects
10possible side effects
  • Headache
  • Withdrawal
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Dilation of blood vessels
  • Chills
See more detailed side effects
The Narcan (naloxone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and warnings
  • Low blood pressure

    Cardiovascular disease

    ...and 2 more risk factors

  • Liver failure

    Liver disease

    ...and 2 more risk factors

  • Respiratory depression

    Taking with alcohol or other drugs that slow the nervous system

    ...and 1 more risk factors

  • Driving impairment

    Taking with alcohol

    ...and 1 more risk factors

See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Acute opioid withdrawal

    Regular use of opioids

  • Heart and lung problems

    History of heart problems

    ...and 1 more risk factors

  • Seizures

    History of seizures

    ...and 1 more risk factors

See more detailed risks and warnings