The bad taste of Suboxone makes it hard to take on a daily basis.
Why does Suboxone taste so bad? Do the manufacturers of brand name and generic Suboxone and Subutex purposely make them taste as bad as possible?
Many patients describe the taste of Suboxone as being a nasty taste with an ongoing aftertaste that just will not go away. For example, one patient described the Dr. Reddy generic buprenorphine/naloxone strip as tasting like gasoline.
It seems as if nearly all of the different brands and forms of the medication taste bad. One notable exception is ZubSolv. ZubSolv is a brand of buprenorphine/naloxone that is known for having a pleasant minty taste.
Yet, because ZubSolv is an expensive brand name medication, not all patients will be able to easily afford it or get their health insurance company to pay for it. They are stuck with one of the many bad-tasting alternatives.
The Sour patch candy connection to Suboxone.
Sour patch candy, also known as Sourpatch Kids, is a sour citrus candy that has been around since the 1970s. Sourpatch is available in lime green, lemon yellow, orange orange, redberry raspberry, and blue raspberry.
The soft candies are coated with a combination of sugar and citric acid with tartaric acid, also known as “invert sugar.” The name was changed in the 1980s to Sour Patch Kids, probably because Cabbage Patch Kids were so popular during that period.
Multiple patients have reported back that eating, or sucking on these candies after Suboxone has been fully dissolved can help to get rid of the bad taste. I have even heard reports from patients that their previous doctors recommended Sour Patch Kids for the Suboxone bad taste.
With multiple recommendations for this sour and flavorful candy, it may be worth giving it a try. Of course, if you are diabetic, or should not be consuming sugary candy for any other reason, you should avoid these candies. Also, don’t forget to brush your teeth afterwards.
What about the Suboxone company saying you shouldn’t eat or drink 30 minutes before or after taking Suboxone?
It is true that the FDA-approved literature that comes with Suboxone films or tablets, and similar buprenorphine-based medications says not to eat or drink before taking the medication. The literature also says to never split the film or tablet.
While it is definitely true that you must not eat, drink, smoke, or talk while waiting for the Suboxone to dissolve under your tongue, it may be fine to cut that 15 or 30 minute no-eating and no-drinking recommendation before and after by a bit. If it does not have an effect on the efficacy of your medicine, and it makes taking it more tolerable, it is probably fine.
Of course, you should discuss any issues of how you take your medication with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to be strict about not eating or drinking for a certain time period before and after taking Suboxone. Also, your doctor may ask that you avoid sugary candies, such as Sour Patch Kids.
Can coffee or tea help with the bad taste of Suboxone?
I have heard some people say that tea helps with the taste. Even more people have claimed that coffee is the thing that helps get rid of that nasty Suboxone taste. Coffee can be either with cream and sugar, only cream, or without either cream or sugar. You can drink coffee the way you prefer to drink it.
Another possibility is chocolate. There have been Suboxone patients who state that chocolate makes a big difference in erasing the Suboxone taste from their mouths. If chocolate helps, you may want to experiment with different brands and types of chocolate. Fancy brands of chocolate may help more, and possibly a chocolate with a citrus taste will work best.
I have not heard any specifics about tea flavors, but again, you may want to try a citrus flavored herbal tea. It seems that citrus is a common theme among products and practices that help with the bad taste of Suboxone tablets and Suboxone films.
How about a breath mint to get rid of the Suboxone bad taste?
It seems like common sense to use a breath mint to get rid of a bad taste in your mouth. One specific breath mint that has been recommended by more than one patient is the cinnamon Altoid.
Altoids come in a small tin and are known as curiously strong mints. The cinnamon flavored Altoid is the one that is recommended, but you may choose to try other flavors, such as peppermint or wintergreen.
Interestingly, Altoids were originally created in the late 18th century. They were promoted as a product that could give relief for intestinal discomfort. So, Altoids were conceived as a health aid, became a breath mint, and now may have a special health benefit once again, as treatment for the Suboxone bad aftertaste.
The little white, chalky mints are very tasty. in fact, they taste a bit like the taste of the medication, ZubSolv. Even though I have never taken ZubSolv, I know how it tastes because the manufacturer, Orexo, provides placebo tablets that have no active medication in them, but they have the same flavor as the real thing.
Of course, other breath mints may work as well or better for you. Orange Tic Tacs have been recommended for Suboxone aftertaste. Lifesavers and cough drops have been mentioned by patients as well.
What is the best way to get a breath mint to take away the nasty Suboxone taste?
I realize that I stated above that you must not eat or drink during absorption of Suboxone under the tongue, but here is a recommendation that several patients have made that is interesting.
Some people, apparently swear by the tactic of placing a breath mint, such as an Altoid, on top of the tongue while the Suboxone strip or tablet is under the tongue. You would not technically be eating the breath mint since you would just allow it to sit there on top of your tongue.
So, if the taste of Suboxone is intolerable and nothing else is working, you may want to consider trying this suggestion of placing a breath mint on top of your tongue. It does seem like an interesting way to distract your brain from the bad taste under your tongue by placing a strongly pleasant taste on top of your tongue.
How about some Ice Breakers Sours for that bad Suboxone taste?
Another brand of sour candy is the Ice Breakers Sours brand with watermelon, green apple, and tangerine flavors. Patients have reported that these candies seem to help with the Suboxone aftertaste to help it go away faster.
Sour watermelon cool mints have also been recommended as another alternative. As you may be noticing, fruity, citrus, sour, and minty flavors seem to be the common factors here.
Smarties are another candy that may work well for you. Though, you should note that Smarties in the US and the UK are apparently different candies.
What if I just brush my teeth after taking my bad-tasting Suboxone?
Brushing your teeth may work to get that taste out of your mouth. Some people have claimed brushing just before helps. Another possibility is to use mouthwash.
In fact, one patient specifically recommended to rinse with menthol mouthwash before taking Suboxone. Listerine is a brand that has been recommended specifically, though I am not sure if they were referring to the Freshburst Listerine, or the green tea and mint blend flavor. I bring up those products because it was green Listerine that was used by this patient.
You could also try rinsing or brushing before or after using Suboxone. Or, you could brush and rinse before and then again after. This is a very individualized problem which may require some experimentation to help you overcome the bad taste of Suboxone.
What about very spicy candies to help with the bad taste?
Another thing to try out is red hot candies. These cinnamon red hots have worked for some people. Maybe causing the pain response of hot candy on the tongue distracts the brain from the Suboxone taste.
As you may be aware, spicy and spicy hot flavors do not activate a particular taste bud. Rather, they cause a pain response by stimulating pain nerve endings. Pain can distract a person from another unpleasant experience, so it makes sense that these products might help.
What are some drinks that might help with the Suboxone aftertaste?
Fruit juices, particularly citrus, are helpful. Orange juice or orange soda can help. Apple juice has also been used with some success.
While there has not been a lot of claims made for diet sodas or colas, I would recommend that if nothing else works that Coke Zero or the equivalent Pepsi might work. While I do not have the experience of the Suboxone nasty aftertaste, I have noted that Coke Zero helps me to get bad tastes out of my mouth, similarly to a breath mint.
One specific recommendation for a soda that I have heard is Mountain Dew Throwback. What is throwback? Apparently, in 2009, this product was released along with a similar product, Pepsi Throwback. The difference between these drinks and the mainstream versions is that they used real sugar rather than the usual high-fructose corn syrup.
The flavor of these throwback drinks was similar to how soft drinks tasted decades ago, in the 1980s, before the switch was made away from using sugar to flavor the sodas. You may or may not be able to find Mountain Dew Throwback in your local store. Possibly, it will be sold as Mountain Dew made with Real Sugar.
The person who made this recommendation was very clear that the real sugar version worked to quell the bad Suboxone aftertaste. They stated that the more common variety made with high-fructose corn syrup would not work as well.
Smoking is always a bad idea.
Some people have recommended in various online forums that smoking helps with the taste of Suboxone. I cannot recommend this practice because smoking cigarettes, or using any tobacco product, is bad idea. Tobacco is harmful to your health and smoking puts you at risk for serious lung disease and several deadly forms of cancer.
I understand that some patients are already smokers and that quitting opioids is a difficult process. It is often recommended to take on one addiction at a time, so smoking cessation may be addressed further later on.
Still, even if a patient is already a smoker and not ready to quit, I would not want to recommend using smoking as part of medical treatment, even if it is to help eliminate the bad taste of medication. So, even if you are still smoking cigarettes, I cannot make this recommendation that smoking should be done around the time that you take Suboxone for medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorder.
What are some other recommendations for reducing the bad taste of Suboxone?
Here are a few other random recommendations that I have heard. You can try them out if nothing else seems to be helping, of if they happen to appeal to you.
One patient once recommended peach rings. I am not certain of the brand or if it has to be rings or if slices would work just as well. There is a brand of cooled, sweetened peach slices that we sometimes buy. They taste great and they are easy to serve. I find them in the supermarket in the produce section in the refrigerators where they have fruit juices and similar products.
Of course, there are other preserved fruits in the canned fruit section, and these may be what the patient was referring to. I think you can find cans of peach rings, and similar preserved fruits, such as pineapple rings. It might be worth experimenting with different canned fruits to see what works best.
Another interesting recommendation I have heard is to place a bit of maple syrup in the mouth before taking Suboxone, Subutex or other buprenorphine sublingual preparations. I don’t know what brand they were referring to, but if you choose to try maple syrup, you might as well get a good-tasting, fancy brand of real maple syrup.
Caramel M&Ms have also been mentioned. I have not tried these candies myself, but possibly other types of M&Ms will work as well, or even other caramel-flavored treats. How about dolce de leche ice cream? While not the same thing, that is the flavor I thought of right away when the caramel candies were brought up. As you can see, there are many ideas to try out to help with flavoring.
Butterscotch is another, similar flavor, along the lines of caramel, chocolate and coffee tastes. You may want to consider butterscotch flavored candies. Werther’s Original Butter Hard Candies are one example that comes to mind of either butterscotch or caramel flavors. These candies also come in soft chewable versions.
Would it be possible to flavor the Suboxone itself to make its taste more pleasant?
Unfortunately, manufactured pharmaceutical products are flavored in a particular way in the factory and these formulations are rarely, if ever, changed. If Suboxone tastes bad now, it will probably still taste bad in ten years.
It’s not like when the Coca Cola company decides to update their flavor and release New Coke. There will not be a New Suboxone with new and improved flavor and no aftertaste.
However, there are other brands and forms of buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone that do have new and improved flavors. As discussed earlier, there is ZubSolv, which as one of its main selling points is an improved taste without aftertaste compared to Suboxone.
Additionally, there are also compounded preparations of Suboxone that are flavored to make them more palatable for the patient. I have spoken to one compounding pharmacist who provides many different flavors, giving his patients a choice of how their opioid addiction treatment medication will taste.
One issue is making the medication taste too good. This particular pharmacist was uncomfortable with the idea of making his buprenorphine, Suboxone equivalent, compounds have no medicinal taste. He did not want the patient to subconciously associate the medication with candy.
Maybe this is the thinking of the makers of Suboxone, that they do not want the medication to taste good. But, was it a good idea to make it taste so bad? Did they think they were providing a service to their patients in making their medication taste so disgusting, leaving a bad aftertaste?
Fortunately, in this day of generic Suboxone, there are many alternatives. Many companies are now making films, strips, pills, tablets, and even compounded troches and other compound forms of buprenorphine/naloxone. There is now choice and there are versions of this important opioid addiction treatment medication that taste much less offensive than the original brand of Suboxone Sublingual Films.