Suboxone: What is it And Can One Get High?

Last Updated: December 19, 2019

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Suboxone is a prescription-only medication, and only certified doctors have the authority to prescribe it. This “blockbuster” drug itself can become another cause of addiction. Most of all, if the patients fail to follow the doctor’s instructions. Why Suboxone can get one high is because it falls under the similar category to the ones against which a doctor prescribes. In essence, it is like choosing a less harmful option when a person has just two options, and both of them are harmful.

Suboxone: Friend or Foe?

SuboxoneWell, it both depends upon the individual cases. In any case, the major determinant of whether it is possible get Suboxone high or not is the way someone uses it.
Suboxone is a combo drug. Thus, it contains the narcotic drug Buprenorphine and an anti-narcotic drug Naloxone. The combo acts in a dual manner. Naloxone blocks the effects of narcotic drugs to which patient has the addiction. Buprenorphine (paradoxically) provides mild opioid effects. So that withdrawal effects occur to a lesser extent. In some cases of opioid addiction, it may be able to eliminate the withdrawal effects.
To be more precise, Suboxone supplies individuals with controlled amounts of narcotic. While, it can act to reduce effects of the short-acting opioids such as morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone and others.
Both these actions happen at the same time. However, this is not a replacement therapy for opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is not a complete opioid like methadone, oxycodone, and heroin.

Medically, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. In short, this means that it produces narcotic-like effects but to lesser extent. Thus making its abuse less likely. Nonetheless, its addiction potential is something that is a worry for everyone involved.

The biggest fear that accompanies this so-called “corrective” drug is its potential abuse. Being an opioid, the addiction potential of Suboxone is always a risk for the patients.

Patients who take Suboxone to treat addiction may overdo it and fall into addiction. Considering its abuse, everyone involved should exercise certain measures during the therapy. Thus, to help lower the risk of abuse.
Rarely, Suboxone may also cause withdrawal effects like those with other opioid analgesics. Thus, withdrawal is more likely to occur during the first few days or weeks of therapy or when switching from Methadone.

How to Reduce the Abuse of Suboxone?

When a person is fighting against the strong cravings for opioid drugs, the fight is often one-sided with the drug winning over the thoughts. There are few saviors, and Suboxone is one of them.
Suboxone being an addictive opioid, there is a high chance one will fall victim to Suboxone addiction. Even in the desperate attempt to run away from the cravings.
However, the following tips can help reduce the risk of Suboxone abuse:

  • Take the given drug in exact quantity, frequency, and duration as instructed by the doctor.
  • Do not share any of the medications with friends or family members.
  • Visit a doctor if felt any of the symptoms of tolerance to Suboxone. Tolerance refers to a condition when the users need a larger quantity of the medication. All in all, this produces the effects which were earlier produced by a lesser quantity.
  • If the cravings do not curb even during therapy with Suboxone, it indicates a serious case of addiction, and the patient should talk to the doctor.
  • If someone notices symptoms of abuse in a friend or family members, talk to them right away.
  • Do not skip routine doctor visits. Overall, it will help a doctor in assessing improvement and potential for abuse.
  • Store it in a safe place to prevent theft or loss.

Key Takeaways

A person can get Suboxone high owing to its easy abuse. However, the risk is low compared to that with other opioids. Also, symptoms of dependence or addiction have a delayed onset.
Following the doctor’s instructions about the drug use is the best thing one can do to prevent addiction. However, if the risk of potential abuse is high, the patient should talk to the doctor. And ask for more precise preventive measures.
If possible, take the drug at the same time every day so that a person won’t miss or overdose it.
Do not stop the drug abruptly. For drugs like Suboxone or those with abuse potential, the doctor can recommend a gradual reduction in the dose. This type of discontinuation is called dose tapering. In the end, it reduces the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction is a chronic disorder. In essence, it requires a group effort from family, friends and healthcare experts. A mix of medications and a strong support system often works wonders to help one live a drug-free life.
Addiction centers have a skilled team dedicated to providing all kinds of services to help a patient get back to normal life. The team consists of well trained and skilled healthcare experts. They all work together to design addiction treatment plans that are specific to the individual needs.

Page Sources

  1. Yokell M. A., Zaller N. D., Green T. C., Rich J. D. Buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone diversion, misuse, and illicit use: an international review. Current Drug Abuse Reviews. 2011; 4(1): 28–41.
  2. Furst R. T. Diffusion and diversion of suboxone: an exploration of illicit street opioid selling. Journal of Addictive Diseases. 2014; 177-86. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2014.950030.

Published on: March 15th, 2017

Updated on: December 19th, 2019

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.


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