What Happens When You Take Opiates on Suboxone?

man sitting at kitchen table

Suboxone is a prescription medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone. The combination of the two is used in the treatment of opioid dependency. Often times, Suboxone is utilized as medication-assisted therapy (MAT) in comprehensive treatment programs for opioid addiction. Suboxone helps individuals mitigate painful withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate addiction. However, severe symptoms occur when people take opiates on Suboxone.

Buprenorphine specifically binds to opioid receptors and helps to create a “ceiling effect” to limit an individual’s reaction to opioids, even if an excessive dose is taken. This combination produces a weaker euphoric effect when compared to other opioid drugs and the risk of dangerous side effects like slowed breathing dramatically decreases. Furthermore, the risk of misuse and physical dependency is also not as common.  Individuals who take Suboxone correctly will have the opportunity to combat their opioid addiction and transition to a healthy life in sobriety. At the same time, it is widely known by opioid addicts that they should never take opiates while on Suboxone.

What Happens When Suboxone is Mixed with Other Drugs?

If an individual attempts to abuse Suboxone or take opiates while on Suboxone, the naloxone will inhibit the buprenorphine from binding to opioid receptors, making the attempt to achieve euphoria ineffective. Ultimately, Suboxone is effective in preventing withdrawal symptoms and cravings while also negating the euphoric effects of opioids.

While Suboxone poses many dangerous risks for individuals who abuse it, combining Suboxone with other drugs can pose further health complications and potentially fatal consequences.

Suboxone and Alcohol

The FDA has warned against mixing Suboxone with alcohol. Both buprenorphine and alcohol are central nervous depressants. Consuming both alcohol and Suboxone together can increase the risk of respiratory complications such as:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Deep sedation
  • Coma
  • Death

Cocaine and Suboxone

Cocaine is a potent stimulant drug. The effects of cocaine are opposite to the effects of opioid medications. The conflicting effects of these drugs can lead to many dangerous and potentially fatal health complications such as:

  • Drug addiction
  • Reduced effects of Suboxone
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Arrhythmia
  • Heart attack
  • Masked effects of cocaine
  • Increased risk of overdose and death

Benzodiazepines and Suboxone

Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin are drugs that are often prescribed to alleviate anxiety. These drugs are depressants and used to sedate the central nervous system to combat the effects of anxiety disorders. Mixing Suboxone with benzodiazepines can lead to dangerous side effects such as:

  • Severe lack of coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Unconsciousness
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Coma
  • Death

What are the Effects of Using Opiates While on Suboxone?

If you are considering or currently taking Suboxone, it is vital that you fully understand the interaction of this medication with other drugs. This is especially true for certain central nervous system depressant drugs – specifically opioids.

The primary difference between Suboxone and other opioids is naloxone. Naloxone serves the purpose of counteracting the effects of opioid-based drugs. This component of Suboxone is effective by attaching to opioid receptors and blocking other opioids such as heroin. Mixing Suboxone with heroin or other opiates can lead to serious side effects such as respiratory distress, cardiac arrest, coma, and even death.

If heroin is mixed with Suboxone, the body’s reaction to Suboxone will counter the non-specific actions of heroin – sending an individual into precipitated withdrawals. In other words, the individual is likely to experience the following:

  • Extreme cold sweats
  • Body chills
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
  • Precipitated withdrawals
  • Runny nose
  • Severe agitation

Benefits of Suboxone

Suboxone is effective when prescribed by a medical professional to treat opioid dependency. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, medications like buprenorphine in combination with behavioral therapies provide a comprehensive approach to the treatment of opiate addiction. When taken as prescribed, Suboxone is one of only two opioid addiction treatment medications that combines buprenorphine and naloxone.

Maintenance medications such as Suboxone help individuals mitigate the painful opioid withdrawal symptoms. Medication-assisted treatment that implements Suboxone is proven to be effective in helping addicts manage these painful withdrawal symptoms in order to help these individuals focus on receiving the other treatment services provided in order to maintain long term sobriety.

Opioid Addiction Treatment in Memphis, Tennessee

Since Suboxone is not a cure for opioid addiction, addiction specialists in Memphis ensure that top-notch care in drug rehab is provided for individuals suffering from opioid addiction. The Suboxone program at PAX Memphis combines Suboxone therapy with comprehensive addiction treatment to help individuals start living free from opioid addiction.

Suboxone is a type of opioid replacement therapy that is highly effective in MAT in Memphis. It can be prescribed by a treatment center physician or a licensed doctor. It is typically prescribed at the beginning of treatment or during detox and can be continued throughout the early stages of recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction, contact our drug rehab in Memphis today to learn more about our Suboxone program.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

About

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

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.


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