Suboxone, in pill and strip form, sit on Heather and Rodney Auger's kitchen table in Old Orchard Beach. Both take one dose a day to help them stay off heroin and painkillers. Credit: Troy R. Bennett

Suboxone is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of opioid addiction.

It is a brand-name version of the addiction medication buprenorphine that is combined with naloxone.

Buprenorphine, which was approved for use to treat opioid addiction in 2002 and is available under other brand names as well, is a long-acting opioid used to reduce craving for stronger opioids like heroin, preventing physical withdrawal from those drugs while offering a lower risk of fatal overdose, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The addition of naloxone, which is commonly used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, decreases the likelihood of misuse, as it blocks the effects of opioids in the brain. When taken as sublingual tablets, buprenorphine’s opioid effects dominate and naloxone blocks withdrawal. If the tablet is crushed and injected, naloxone blocks the effects of the opioid and induces withdrawal, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Suboxone can come with side-effects that include headaches, cold or flu-like symptoms, sweating, difficulty sleeping, nausea and mood swings, according to the FDA.

A recent report from Maine Health Data Organization found that Suboxone was the second most commonly prescribed prescription in the state, behind a generic blood pressure medication and ahead of an inhaler for treating asthma.