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Medically Reviewed

Can You Get High on Suboxone?

- 4 sections

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

medically-verified

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

The opioid crisis in America has been increasing in severity year after year. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioids were responsible for 80,411 deaths in 2021.[1] Because opioid addiction continues to become more widespread, medical professionals had to think of a way to combat it more aggressively, which is where medication-assisted treatment came in.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of medications to help people overcome withdrawal symptoms and cravings that are common in early opioid addiction recovery. There are a few FDA-approved medications used during MAT, including buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.[2] Buprenorphine is often given as a combination drug that contains naloxone, known as Suboxone.

While Suboxone can be incredibly helpful in preventing early relapse, it is possible to abuse it. People may abuse their Suboxone in an attempt to get high by taking higher doses than prescribed.

Suboxone abuse is dangerous and you should never take more than prescribed. If you are taking Suboxone, you must follow the dosage regimen outlined by your doctor.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication that combines buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it activates opioid receptors in your brain but to a lesser degree than other opioids. On the other hand, naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which prevents other opioids from reaching your receptors to cause a high.

Suboxone is used to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings, ensuring that patients do not relapse during treatment. While buprenorphine alleviates symptoms of withdrawal, naloxone is added to Suboxone to limit people’s ability to abuse it or other opioid drugs.

Suboxone works to keep patients sober and prevent relapse in four different ways:[3]

  1. The buprenorphine binds to opioid receptors in the brain to limit withdrawal symptoms and cravings during detox
  2. Suboxone is only considered a partial agonist, because it does not fully activate opioid receptors, making the brain believe it received the opioids it craves without causing a strong high
  3. The naloxone in suboxone blocks any other opioids from causing a high, preventing patients from being able to relapse
  4. Suboxone can prevent opioid deaths because it is only a partial opioid agonist, meaning it does not interfere with people’s breathing at significant levels

Does Suboxone Get You High?

While you will not get high during Suboxone treatment in a MAT program, the medication can be abused. Medication-assisted treatment programs ensure that their patients do not abuse Suboxone by only dispensing one dose at a time. However, if someone got their hands on more than one dose without medical supervision, they could misuse it to experience a high.

Suboxone usually comes as a sublingual strip. If someone buys Suboxone strips off the street, they may dissolve them and then inject them. Suboxone pills are also available and people who misuse them tend to crush them up and snort them.

It is important to note that individuals who already have an opioid use disorder before taking Suboxone will not get high. This substance is considered an extremely weak opioid, which means having a tolerance for opioids will render the mind-altering effects ineffective. Additionally, the naloxone inside of Suboxone can cause people to go into precipitated withdrawal, causing them to experience flu-like symptoms.

Signs of Suboxone Addiction

If someone is abusing Suboxone, they are likely to exhibit similar symptoms as people with other types of opioid addictions. Being aware of the signs of Suboxone addiction can allow you to determine whether your loved one needs professional help.

The signs of Suboxone addiction include:

  • Secretive behavior
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Going to multiple doctors to receive more than one prescription
  • Stealing prescriptions from friends and family
  • Pretending to lose their prescription to get more
  • Taking more than they are prescribed and running out early
  • Mixing Suboxone with other drugs to increase its effects
  • Appearing sedated or drowsy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed breathing
  • Impaired cognition
  • Looking high or intoxicated

If you or a loved one are addicted to Suboxone, you must seek professional drug addiction treatment. While Suboxone is a lesser opioid than drugs like heroin, long-term abuse can still result in devastating effects. Additionally, Suboxone withdrawal can be incredibly difficult to cope with, making medical detox treatment vital to maintaining long-term sobriety.

Find Help for Suboxone Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one frequently abuses Suboxone, you could be addicted to it. Suboxone addiction requires professional treatment just like any other opioid use disorder. Long-term abuse of this substance can result in devastating and even life-threatening effects.

Thankfully, programs like Carolina Recovery Center can provide you with the tools and support you need to achieve long-lasting sobriety. With a combination of individualized treatment planning, evidence-based therapies, and relapse prevention planning, we can help you regain control over your life.

To learn more about our Suboxone addiction treatment programs, contact us today.

References:

  1. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA): Drug Overdose Death Rates, Retrieved October 2023 From https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), Retrieved October 2023 From https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/information-about-medication-assisted-treatment-mat
  3. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions, Retrieved October 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855417/

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