Mixing Suboxone, an opioid agonist, and alcohol can have severe — and even fatal — consequences. To understand why taking these two substances together is dangerous, it’s important to know how each affects your body. Suboxone (naloxone and buprenorphine) is an opioid agonist that binds to the same receptors in your brain as opiates, increasing its abuse potential. Alcohol (ethanol) is a central nervous system depressant that affects your brain chemistry. Taken together, especially intravenously, Suboxone and alcohol intensify each other’s effects and can wreak havoc on your respiratory system and mental state. This can easily cause overdose, potentially fatal breathing problems, loss of consciousness and coma, among other dangerous side effects.  

If you or a loved one is suffering from Suboxone and alcohol addiction, help is closer than you think. It is possible to detox from and stay off of these substances, and it’s important to do so before one too many mixtures causes irreparable damage.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is the brand name of a partial opioid agonist, and is a mixture of naloxone and buprenorphine. It is prescribed by licensed doctors for use in drug replacement therapy, and helps people detox from addictions to deadly opioids like heroin and fentanyl by reducing cravings and suppressing withdrawal symptoms. However, it has its own abuse potential. Suboxone binds to the same receptors in the brain as opioids, triggering a relieving high, while not as harmful as opiates themselves. Overdosing on Suboxone alone can require resuscitation, and mixing Suboxone with alcohol can be fatal.

What Are the Side Effects of Suboxone and Alcohol?

When combined, Suboxone and alcohol can exacerbate the harmful effects each has on your respiratory system, but that’s just the beginning. Mixing these two drugs can do detrimental damage to your entire body and can lead to fatal overdose.

If you mix Suboxone and alcohol, side effects may include:

  • Impaired or slurred speech
  • Potentially fatal breathing problems
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Dangers of Mixing Suboxone and Alcohol

Mixing Suboxone and alcohol is dangerous for several reasons, each of which is a different way they affect your body when combined. Depressants (alcohol) should never be combined with opioid agonists like Suboxone, as you cannot control the effects you may experience. When you mix the two, you will experience the unpleasant effects of alcohol use: dizziness, slurred speech, drowsiness, and more dangerously, the loss of willpower and ability to make rational decisions.

Synthetic opioid agonists like Suboxone, when combined with alcohol, also stimulate the brain’s production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Too much GABA can lower your heart rate, body temperature and respiration to fatal levels. In addition, taking these substances together can increase your addictive behaviors and tolerances, meaning that it is more likely for you to become dependent on this disastrous cocktail then if you were to use Suboxone or alcohol exclusively.

Treatment for Suboxone and Alcohol

If you suspect an overdose due to Suboxone and alcohol, call 911 immediately. Calling The Recovery Village can get you into a treatment program but cannot send emergency services to your location.

If you or a loved one is using Suboxone and alcohol together, it’s imperative that you seek out a treatment facility that can safely detox you from both substances and provide quality dual diagnosis care. Attempting to rid your system of these substances on your own can be calamitous and will only decrease your chances of success. To safely come off of Suboxone and alcohol addiction, you need a team of medical professionals who know drug dependency inside and out and who know exactly how to treat your condition. The doctors and clinicians at The Recovery Village can help you break free from addiction; the first step is reaching out. Speak to an intake coordinator today.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.