Is Suboxone an opiate?

Is Suboxone an Opiate?

Suboxone is an opiate, but it’s in a different category than other opiates like oxycodone or heroin. The opioid component of Suboxone is called buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist that affects the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a lesser extent than other common opioids.

Suboxone serves a dual purpose, it alleviates withdrawal symptoms and prevents other opioids from interacting with opioid receptors. In combination with therapy, suboxone can reduce the chance of relapse by lowering the motivation to abuse opiates.

How does Suboxone work?

Do people consider Suboxone a narcotic?

Generally, no. Most people, including the medical community, view Suboxone as a medication, not a drug.

Suboxone is technically an opioid, and the DEA considers opioids narcotics. However, when most people mention narcotics, they are referring to a substance that produces a high and is commonly abused. Suboxone abuse does happen, but it’s not nearly as common because the high is weaker compared to heroin and other prescription opioids.

Can you overdose on Suboxone?

Although it’s technically possible to overdose on Suboxone, it doesn’t happen very often because it contains an opioid-blocking ingredient called Naloxone. Naloxone is inactive when taken orally. However, if someone tries to inject the drug, Naloxone will block opioid receptors in the brain to prevent an overdose.

The risk of overdose becomes greater when other substances are used in conjunction with Suboxone. People that take Suboxone should avoid any substance that can interact with the medication. The following are just some drugs that could increase the risk of overdose:

  • Alcohol
  • Antidepressants
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Hormonal contraceptives
  • Ketamine
  • Meth
  • Opiates, such as heroin and hydrocodone
  • PCP
  • Phenobarbital and other epilepsy treatments
  • Synthetic cannabinoids

Can you get high on Suboxone?

Since Suboxone is an opiate, it does have the ability to produce a high, but it’s typically only felt by those who are not already accustomed to opiate use. Since most patients who are prescribed Suboxone are opiate addicts and already have a tolerance for opioid medication, they are unlikely to get the feel-good effects from taking Suboxone.

A person with a tolerance to opioids won’t feel the same euphoria that they do when they use heroin or oxycodone.

Is it possible to withdraw from Suboxone?

Yes, it is possible to withdrawal from Suboxone, especially if you stop taking it abruptly. The effects of Suboxone withdrawal are the same as other opioids, including:

  • Muscle Aches
  • Chills
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Drug Cravings

but are generally milder than heroin withdrawals. Never stop taking Suboxone cold turkey. You should always make a plan with your doctor to taper down carefully or else you will make your withdrawal symptoms worse.

How long after taking Suboxone can you take opiates? Why is that waiting period recommended?

Doctors recommend waiting at least 36 hours after stopping Suboxone before you can take other opioid medications. The whole point of Suboxone therapy is to stop using opiates, but in some cases like after an accident or surgery, someone who takes Suboxone will need to take pain medication. Opiates, even prescription ones, increase the risk of overdose while on Suboxone. You should not overlap suboxone with any other opioids. Some options your doctor might consider include:

  • Adjusting the dosages of Suboxone and the prescription pain medication to make use safer
  • Giving you smaller doses more frequently
  • Wean off Suboxone in advance of surgery
  • Switch to methadone in emergency situations to stave off acute withdrawal.

Only a medical professional can determine what is safe.

Does Suboxone help with pain?

Yes, Suboxone can help with pain relief, but it’s less effective than other opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin.

Instead of Suboxone, doctors prescribe buprenorphine as a transdermal skin patch called Butrans. Butrans does not contain the opioid blocker naloxone, and it is designed to safely and slowly deliver the medication.

When physicians do prescribe Suboxone off-label for chronic pain, it is usually because the patient has a high risk of diversion with regular opioids. to people who have struggled with opioid addiction in the past and need a less addictive alternative to manage pain.

How to get Suboxone treatment for opioid addiction:

Not every doctor can prescribe Suboxone. The best way to get it is through a clinic or treatment center that specializes in addiction. JourneyPure has 13 outpatient and Suboxone clinics in Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida that can help you get real help for your addiction while staying close to home. The best suboxone clinics offer counseling and therapy along with the medication to not only treat the dependence but also address the underlying causes of addiction.

Sources

American Society of Addiction Medicine: “Advancing Access to Addiction Medications: Implications for Opioid Addiction Treatment.”
StatPearls Publishing: “Buprenorphine.”
The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment: “What if I need pain medication for surgery, or acute pain?”

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