Can Suboxone Be Abused And Used To Get High?

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

Due to the inherent nature of those suffering from addiction, most will admit to attempting to abuse their Suboxone at some point in their life. This may entail trying to either snort their medication, melt it down and inject it, or more commonly just taking more than prescribed or recommended. However, due to the chemical makeup of how Suboxone is structured there are several aspects that make it less attractive as a potential drug of abuse. As mentioned in my post about how Suboxone works, it is what is known as a partial opioid agonist which means that it attaches to the pain receptors in your body and partially activates them which can also be viewed as partially blocking them at the same time. This creates a ceiling effect after you reach a certain dosage so taking any more than this does not produce any additional effects in your body. Essentially you are wasting medication at this point. What this also means is that you aren't really able to overdose on Suboxone which is an important characteristic given the patient population it is meant to serve.

Suboxone abused and snorted

What Happens If I Inject Suboxone

As you'll recall, Suboxone is a combination product of the active ingredient Buprenorphine which is a partial opioid agonist and Naloxone which is a pure opioid antagonist (blocker). The whole reason that the Naloxone is attached to Buprenorphine is to deter abuse since it really only becomes absorbed and activated when it is injected which will put the user into acute withdrawal. Naloxone has poor bioavailability when taken sublingually so when Suboxone is taken properly and placed under the tongue the Naloxone doesn't have an effect as clinically studied. However, Subutex which is just pure Buprenorphine without the Naloxone attached technically could be abused which is why most outpatient clinics don't prescribe this. The only time this is used is in controlled settings such as inpatient detox centers where patients are being watched as they take their meds or in pregnant patients although a recent study has shown that the combination product Suboxone is just as safe as Subutex.

But Can I Still Get High Off Suboxone

Since Buprenorphine still causes partial activation of your opioid receptors, you can still experience mild euphoric effects from this medication especially in individuals who are opiate-naive. However, you aren't going to experience the same high that you would with a typical full opioid agonist such as heroin or Percocet. So in my experience, people who seek out Suboxone off the streets are trying to obtain it to control their withdrawal symptoms and avoid opioids as opposed to seeking a high. If they were trying to get high there are many other better and cheaper alternatives than Suboxone. And what has actually been shown is that in areas where there is a higher rate of Buprenorphine diversion there is a lack of Suboxone treatment centers so as access improves the need for obtaining Suboxone off the streets decreases.

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