Physical dependence to opioids can occur with or without addiction. Dependence refers to a condition that occurs when someone has been using opioids, including prescription narcotics of heroin, and their body becomes used to and reliant on their presence. When attempting to stop using opioids, someone who’s dependent will go through withdrawal. Withdrawal from opioids can be painful and difficult. Withdrawal is one of the primary reasons it’s so hard for people to stop using these drugs.
Certain medications are available to help opioid-dependent individuals as they go through withdrawal and detox. One medication is Suboxone. Suboxone is a brand-name sublingual film for opioid dependence. This prescription drug is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid, while naloxone is a drug that blocks the effects of opioids. Suboxone is supposed to be used only under the supervision of a healthcare provider specializing in drug addiction treatment.
People tend to wonder how it is that a medication containing opioids can be used to treat opioid dependence. Buprenorphine is a little different from other opioids because it is a partial opioid agonist, rather than a full opioid agonist. As a result, taking buprenorphine leads to less euphoria and a lower risk of physical dependence. It has a lower risk profile regarding abuse and a milder withdrawal profile than other opioids, and there is a ceiling effect. Taking more buprenorphine isn’t likely to enhance the opioid effects. When buprenorphine is taken as part of a drug treatment program at the right doses, the objective is to suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms, reduce opioid cravings, and block the effects of other opioids. The primary objective of medications with buprenorphine is to help people stay in treatment and complete a recovery program.
While Suboxone can be a helpful component of an opioid treatment program, it does have the potential for abuse. The naloxone contained in this medication is supposed to prevent its abuse, but the makers of Suboxone do warn misuse is possible. The makers of this drug caution that physical dependence can occur with the use of Suboxone, as can psychological addiction. It’s also possible to overdose on Suboxone, although it’s less common than if a person uses just buprenorphine alone.
There are a few ways people could attempt to abuse Suboxone, including shooting or smoking it. Users may also combine it with other drugs to create a high. Mixing Suboxone with certain substances, however, can be dangerous or fatal. Mixing Suboxone with benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax), stimulants or alcohol can lead to a deadly overdose. If someone were to combine Suboxone with another opioid like heroin, they would more likely go into rapid withdrawal.
It’s not uncommon for people to abuse prescription medications by using them in ways other than how they should be to increase the high. One way to abuse prescription drugs is to inject them. People may, for example, crush and liquefy prescription opioids and inject them directly into their veins or muscles. This makes for a high that is both more powerful and fast-acting.
So, can you shoot suboxone? Theoretically, it is possible to inject suboxone. Some people abuse it this way because, otherwise, the opioid in the drug has a low level of bioavailability. Even though it is possible to inject Suboxone, it has very little benefit to the user. It may be more harmful than anything. Naloxone is included in Suboxone to prevent abuse. The naloxone doesn’t have an effect when Suboxone is used as instructed. However, if someone tries injecting suboxone, the naloxone will block the sought-after effects. In many cases, abusing Suboxone can also lead to immediate withdrawal symptoms.
People who would tend to feel high from injecting either Suboxone or buprenorphine on its own are people who don’t already have an opioid tolerance. If someone doesn’t have a history of using opioids they might start by using Suboxone. Someone with an opioid tolerance probably will not experience any effect beyond withdrawal symptoms if they inject Suboxone. People also wonder about shooting Suboxone pills, but pill versions of this drug are no longer available.
Is smoking Suboxone possible? Again, it may be possible to get the medication out of a Suboxone film and smoke it, but if you are opioid dependent, the effects probably won’t lead to feeling high. Instead, you are likely to go into immediate withdrawal (as with shooting Suboxone) because of the naloxone.
Suboxone is a drug that benefits people as they seek treatment for opioid dependence and addiction. The naloxone included in Suboxone makes it useless for most people to try to abuse this drug, including by injecting suboxone or smoking Suboxone. Despite the unlikely possibility of getting high from Suboxone, it’s still important to follow dosage instructions carefully and use this medication only as part of a comprehensive treatment program because there is a chance of abuse, addiction or dependence with Suboxone.
Opioid addiction doesn’t have to be your reality. Contact The Recovery Village to learn more about rehab, paying for treatment, insurance coverage for addiction treatment and what to expect.
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.