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Can Suboxone Get You High?

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Suboxone has helped many people end their compulsive opioid use safely and with minimized distress. But what happens if you abuse this medication? Can Suboxone get you high?

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone in the brand name of a medication that contains buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat people who have opioid use disorder, which is the clinical term for addiction to heroin, morphine, prescription painkillers, and similar substances.

  • Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This means that it interacts with the same receptors that opioids do – but when it is used appropriately, it does not cause the disorienting high that typically results from opioid use. This allows people who have become addicted to opioids to stop using them without experiencing the distressing withdrawal symptoms that would typically occur.
  • Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means that it binds to opioid receptors without activating them. If a person has opioids in their system, naloxone will counter their effects. This medication is also sold separately under the brand name Narcan, which is a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdose. Naloxone is included in Suboxone as a way to prevent people from abusing the medication.

Suboxone is usually administered as small dissolvable film that patients place under their tongue. As the film dissolves, the Suboxone is absorbed into the bloodstream.  

Suboxone is one of a few medications that are authorized for use in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs. MAT combines medication and therapy to help people end their opioid use and build a foundation for long-term recovery.

Can Suboxone Get You High?

Burprenorphine alone, if taken in a large enough dose, can cause elevated mood, slight euphoria, and other opioid-like effects. While these effects won’t be nearly as powerful as what a person would feel if they took heroin, oxycodone, or another opioid, they could be enticing to someone who is experiencing intense opioid cravings.

This is why Suboxone also contains naloxone. If someone abuses Suboxone in an attempt to achieve a buprenorphine-fueled high, the naloxone should block their opioid receptors and prevent this from occurring.

If someone has no history of opioid use, and they take Suboxone for recreational purposes, they could achieve some sort of a high. So, technically, the answer to the question, “Can Suboxone get you high?” is yes, it can.

In practice, this doesn’t occur often. Among people who are trying to achieve recovery from opioid addiction, Suboxone abuse is likely to be an attempt to forestall the onset of withdrawal. This could include people who aren’t enrolled in an approved MAT program, but who have acquired Suboxone via illicit means. It could also include people who have received Suboxone from a qualified prescribing physician, but then use more of the drug than directed as a means of self-medicating.

Subutex, which is another medication that may be used in MAT programs, may pose a greater risk of abuse, because it only contains buprenorphine. Someone who takes larger-than-directed doses of Subutex may be able to experience buprenorphine’s disorienting effects without having them blocked by naloxone.

To summarize: Can Suboxone get you high? Yes, it can. Does Suboxone pose the same risk of abuse and addiction that opioids or some other medications pose? No, it does not.

Is Suboxone Safe?

Before you take Suboxone or any other medication, it’s important to discuss potential side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.

Studies have documented that Suboxone is safe for both short- and long-term use, provided that patients take the medication as directed. For example, a 2018 article in The Ochsner Journal reported that buprenorphine use leads to “a reduction in all-cause and overdose mortality and significantly improved quality-of-life ratings.”

The same article also noted that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends buprenorphine for pregnant women who are addicted to opioids, declaring it to be safer than either methadone (another medication that is commonly used in MAT programs) or medical withdrawal.

Of course, as is the case with virtually every prescription medication, Suboxone can cause side effects. The more common side effects reported by Suboxone patients include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills 
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful urination

Less common, but more serious, potential side effects include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Liver damage
  • Allergic reactions
  • Impaired functioning of the adrenal glands
  • Addiction and withdrawal

If you experience any side effects while taking Suboxone, you should discuss them with your doctor or another member of your treatment team. The professional who prescribed Suboxone to you can help you determine if these are transitory effects, if a dosage adjustment is necessary, or if you should switch to a different medication.

Learn More About Addiction Treatment in Nashville

If you have become addicted to opioids, buprenorphine, or any other substance, Nashville Treatment Solutions is here to help.

Programming options at our addiction rehab center in Nashville, Tennessee, include a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an evening IOP, and traditional outpatient care. We also offer sober living residences if you need a safe and supportive place to stay while you are enrolled in one of our programs.

When you choose Nashville Treatment Solutions, you can expect to receive focused care and compassionate support from a team of highly skilled professionals. Though your time in treatment will be relatively brief, the services you receive here and the lessons you learn are designed to provide benefits that truly last a lifetime.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.