Can You Get High Off Suboxone?
What Is Suboxone?
What Does Suboxone Do?
Methods to Get High Off Suboxone
What Happens When Suboxone Is Mixed with Other Drugs?
What Are the Signs of a Suboxone Overdose?
How Did I Start Abusing Suboxone?
What Are the Dangers of Abusing Suboxone?
People who have a severe addiction to heroin or opioids find it extremely difficult to abstain from drugs because they often experience strong drug cravings, miserable withdrawal symptoms, and long-term depression. Addressing these problems with a medication like Suboxone may help these individuals manage their drug addiction.
Suboxone is a medication prescribed for recovery from opiate and opioid addiction. It is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, each of which contribute to relapse prevention in their own way:
- Buprenorphine: Eases cravings without providing the intense high of opiates and other, more potent opioid derivatives.
- Naloxone: Blocks the effects of of opioids at the opioid receptor, discouraging misuse and minimizing the risk of overdose.
Suboxone has been found to be very effective at reducing opiate/opioid abuse, as long as the person closely follows the treatment plan.1 It is taken orally in either tablet or film form, which dissolves in the mouth.2
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Suboxone contains buprenorphine, which is a synthetic opioid medication.3 Unlike many of the drugs that it is used to treat dependence for, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it partially activates the same receptors in the brain as heroin, yet elicits a much less intense effect than heroin.
The other ingredient, naloxone, prevents the user from getting high if they use other opiates or should they attempt to misuse Suboxone itself. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it completely blocks the opioid receptors and prevents the person from feeling any of the effects of heroin.
The inclusion of naloxone in this formulation makes Suboxone particularly unique in its ability to help recovering users resist relapse since, when judiciously taken, any attempts to abuse more potent opioid drugs will not lead to the desired effect.
This combination is also better at reducing cravings and preventing overdose than either buprenorphine or naloxone can achieve alone.
Many individuals struggling with addiction attempt to abuse Suboxone because they miss the euphoric effects of opiates. While Suboxone remains a carefully dispensed prescription medication, it is not unheard of for it to be abused either by intentionally exceeding prescribed dosing or after illegal street purchase of the drug.
Once a dependency develops, those struggling with an opioid addiction frequently look for ways to get high with any available drug. Since buprenorphine is itself an opioid drug, some will attempt to get high from it by tampering with it.
Tampering involves changing the intended formulation by either:
- Crushing: Users crush the tablets for either nasal insufflation, to later be dissolved in solution for injection, or in an attempt to speed the dissolution of the medicine in their mouths.
- Injecting: Users dilute the tablets in water or another liquid so they can be injected directly into the bloodstream. (Keep in mind that injecting Suboxone can paradoxically cause you to go into immediate withdrawal because of a sudden and full potential for the naloxone to antagonize the activity of any other opioid drug present in the user’s system.)
These antagonizing effects of naloxone are much less pronounced when Suboxone is taken as directed.
Although the euphoric effects of Suboxone are mild compared to regular opiates, combining it with other substances can increase its effects. Taking Suboxone in conjunction with other substances is a popular way to alter its effects. Many combinations can be lethal because both substances depress the respiratory system.
Using Suboxone with other drugs can cause adverse and dangerous reactions. Some common substances that are abused along with Suboxone include:
- Alcohol: Adds to breathing difficulties; potentially fatal.2
- Sedatives/tranquilizers (benzodiazepines): May slow breathing to dangerous, potentially fatal levels.3
- Heroin: Naloxone blocks the receptors for heroin stimulation, so the body goes into rapid withdrawal — very unpleasant but not fatal.4
- Stimulants: Effects counter the relaxation provided by the buprenorphine and may lead to stimulant overdose.
Suboxone is a medication used to help those formerly addicted cope with their cravings, so abusing it with other substances is counter-intuitive. Substituting one addiction for another does not help a person recover — it hinders treatment progress.
Suboxone Doesn’t Make You High
If you recognize the following signs of a Suboxone overdose, get medical help immediately:2
- Slow, labored breathing
- Loss of consciousness
When a person is trying to get help for heroin or opioid dependence problems, treatment often involves medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Suboxone is a very effective medication to help manage cravings and help keep users from turning back to their substance of abuse, but unfortunately many users try to abuse Suboxone to attain a similar high.
Some patients undergoing heroin or opioid addiction treatment will get a prescription for Suboxone, find that the high is not as intense as they are used to, and try to find ways to abuse the medication in order to reach that desired high — either by snorting or injecting.
Unfortunately for the users, these methods of abuse produce more harm than high.
You can become addicted to Suboxone by taking it for an extended period of time. The longer that you use it, the more likely it is that your body will develop a physical dependence to the drug. Many people struggling with addiction feel that Suboxone withdrawal is just as severe as withdrawal from other opioids like heroin.
As mentioned previously, injecting dissolved Suboxone may produce instant opioid/opiate withdrawal syndrome due to the presence of naloxone. And even if snorting or injecting Suboxone provides the user with a mild buzz, the unpleasant naloxone effects often counter that high.
In short, the dangers of Suboxone can be summarized as follows:
- Suddenly discontinuing Suboxone can lead to painful withdrawal symptoms.
- Suboxone can have deadly interactions with other drugs like alcohol and sedatives.
- Suboxone can have uncomfortable side effects, such as respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and problems with coordination.
Seek Help for Your Addiction
Some users find success with Suboxone and others do not. Using Suboxone alone is not enough to treat opiate addiction; you need psychological therapy to address the causes behind your addiction.
- Sittambalam, C. D., Vij, R., & Ferguson, R. P. (2014). Buprenorphine outpatient outcomes project: can Suboxone be a viable outpatient option for heroin addiction? Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives, 4(2).
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. (2015). Buprenorphine sublingual and buccal.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2002). Subutex and Suboxone Approved to Treat Opiate Dependence.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Buprenorphine.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. (2016). Naloxone Injection.