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What are the Dangers of Snorting Suboxone?

Suboxone is a prescription medication that is sometimes prescribed to treat pain, though it is more frequently used during the course of opioid addiction treatment. Suboxone helps by alleviating the symptoms that occur when a person stops using opioids. It reduces mental and physical side effects of opioid withdrawal and mitigates the cravings that people experience in their initial days off of opioids. 

While Suboxone is by no means a cure for opioid use disorder, it is a powerful tool that outpatient treatment programs can utilize to improve outcomes for individuals who are severely addicted. Suboxone is designed to be difficult to abuse. In fact, it is associated with lower fatality rates than other drugs commonly used in opioid replacement therapy, such as methadone and buprenorphine. 

Nonetheless, people who are desperate to get high may be tempted to abuse Suboxone. One common method of abusing Suboxone is snorting the medication. Snorting Suboxone is harmful to the addiction recovery process, deeply painful, and associated with a number of life-threatening dangers.

Why Do People Snort Suboxone?

A legitimate Suboxone prescription can come in multiple formulations, including Suboxone strips, Suboxone film, and the Suboxone pill. When people take these medications while following a Suboxone treatment plan, they suffer less from withdrawal symptoms and cravings during opioid withdrawal, which allows them to participate more fully in other therapeutic modalities and decreases their likelihood of relapse. 

However, not everyone uses Suboxone in the context of a treatment program. There are a number of reasons a person may misuse or abuse Suboxone. Some people do it because the drug makes it easier for them to continue engaging in substance abuse. 

Occasional withdrawal symptoms are an unpleasant and inevitable part of active drug addiction, and Suboxone can mitigate these symptoms and allow people to abuse recreational opioids more freely. When Suboxone is used to enable drug addiction in such a manner, it generally only results in a gradual worsening of a person’s opioid addiction — and it is likely that a person will develop a Suboxone addiction as well.

People also abuse Suboxone sometimes because they intend to get high. Suboxone, however, is unique in that it is an opioid that offers only very limited euphoric effects. This combination medication contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine, the active ingredient of Suboxone, is a partial opioid agonist, which means that it does not activate opioid receptors sufficiently to deliver what most people would consider a high. 

Buprenorphine also has a “ceiling effect,” which makes it impossible for the high to be increased after a certain point no matter how high the dosage is. However, it is possible for people to take buprenorphine using other illicit routes of administration, including smoking, snorting, and injecting. Suboxone includes naloxone, an opioid antagonist that blocks opioid receptors and prevents people from getting high when they use these alternate routes of administration.

Effects of Snorting Suboxone

It is possible to snort Suboxone. Individuals can crush Suboxone pills and snort their medication, and it is common for people to do so in an effort to increase the limited euphoric effects that the drug normally offers. However, snorting Suboxone actually leads to drastically different Suboxone effects. The presence of naloxone in the medication has almost no effect when the drug is taken as prescribed, but when the medication is snorted the naloxone becomes more bioavailable. Since naloxone is an opioid antagonist, snorting the drug actually causes people to enter immediate opioid withdrawal. 

While the naloxone is active, it also prevents them from getting high on other recreational opioids. On its own, naloxone is a powerful tool for saving lives. When a person experiences an opioid overdose, naloxone can be administered to reverse a potentially fatal overdose. However, most individuals snorting the medication are not trying to induce withdrawal and, this practice, results in precisely the opposite of the effects that are intended.

Entering opioid withdrawal without proper medical supervision and without the support of a treatment plan for addiction can be not only excruciatingly painful, but dangerous. Some of the more common effects of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Heavy sweating
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Hypertension
  • Tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Crying and runny nose
  • Gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goose bumps
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Sleep problems
  • Hyperthermia
  • Severe cravings

Suboxone Addiction Treatment

Individuals who suffer from Suboxone addiction or opioid addiction more broadly require outside help. While many people take Suboxone without a prescription in an effort to manage or control their addictions themselves, doing so without the aid of a treatment program is only likely to perpetuate the cycle of addiction. Opioid use disorder is a legitimate mental health disorder that requires treatment, and trying to manage it using personal willpower is like trying to fix a broken leg by running a marathon. 

Outpatient treatment centers in Los Angeles offer individualized treatment plans that often include numerous treatment modalities, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, skills training, and support groups. By making use of an outpatient treatment program, people can begin to free themselves from the cycle of addiction while simultaneously developing the skill set they need to avoid relapse down the line. 

Recovery from an opioid use disorder is possible; outpatient treatment centers help people to achieve that, and graduates can go on to live happy, prosperous, and free sober lives that they might never have thought possible. Ready to take the steps in the right direction? Get in touch with us today!

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