Can You Get High On Suboxone Injection?
Suboxone is a medication commonly prescribed during opioid replacement therapy. The medication helps people who suffer from opioid use disorder withdraw from opiates. While Suboxone treatment is not a cure for addiction, it alleviates the intense cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms that usually characterize the detox process.
Without the aid of Suboxone, individuals who are withdrawing from opioids have a lower likelihood of remaining committed to their addiction treatment program and a higher likelihood of relapsing. While this medication can be a great tool during the recovery process, many people are frequently concerned that Suboxone itself can be abused. Even though Suboxone is designed to alleviate the symptoms of opioid use disorder, it is an opioid.
Opioid addiction drives people to desperate measures. Individuals may try to alter the medication and administer themselves a Suboxone injection to achieve a Suboxone high. One common question that people have when they begin Suboxone treatment is, “Does Suboxone get you high when it is injected?”
This question is best answered by explaining the components of Suboxone, which is actually a combination drug containing two opiates: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine and naloxone, despite being opiates, are distinct from recreational opiates in terms of how they affect the brain. Understanding these two drugs helps people come to a clearer understanding of Suboxone effects.
What is Buprenorphine?
The active component of Suboxone is an opiate called buprenorphine. Buprenorphine was developed by scientists who aimed to manufacture an opiate that would possess the beneficial effects of opioids, namely pain reduction, without the negative side effects. They succeeded. Unlike most recreational opioids, which are full opioid agonists that activate opioid receptors fully, buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist.
That means it activates opioid receptors without causing them to release the same quantities of dopamine that recreational opioids do. This means that when buprenorphine is taken as prescribed, it can satisfy the needs of people who have developed a dependence on opioids and prevent them from going into full-on withdrawal. Not only does taking buprenorphine mitigate withdrawal effects, it reduces cravings. Most importantly, however, it offers a very limited high.
When buprenorphine is prescribed by itself, it can be abused, however. Some people try to abuse or misuse it by taking higher doses than prescribed. This can increase the euphoric effects of the medication somewhat, but buprenorphine is notable for having a “ceiling effect.” That means that after a certain point, increasing dosage will not increase the subjective euphoric effects.
In fact, one study showed that test subjects were able to tolerate doses up to 70 times higher than typical doses used for pain relief. While it may not be possible to get very high from increasing the dosage, changing the route of administration offers more potential to would-be drug abusers. Individuals commonly abuse buprenorphine by crushing and injecting their buprenorphine tablets. Doing so results in a more significant high, a high potential for buprenorphine addiction, and an increased risk of opioid overdose. Buprenorphine can be abused and used as a recreational drug.
What is Naloxone?
Suboxone is notable for containing buprenorphine and a second opiate, naloxone. Both drugs serve different functions. Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in the medication that is responsible for Suboxone’s effects. Naloxone is added to limit the potential for abuse. The presence of naloxone in the medication makes it impossible for would-be abusers to get high from a Suboxone injection, and it limits the potential for Suboxone addiction. But how does naloxone work?
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. Opioid antagonists work by attaching to opioid receptors and blocking them. When a person takes a drug like naloxone, it becomes impossible for them to get high off of other opioid drugs. If they are already high or have opioids in their system, they will enter immediate withdrawal. Naloxone by itself is a first line treatment for opioid overdoses.
By administering naloxone to a person overdosing on opioids, the overdose can be reversed and the person’s life can be saved. It is important to stipulate here that they will begin having acute withdrawal symptoms immediately and will thus require both medical care and long-term addiction treatment.
However, naloxone is not processed by the body to a significant degree when it is taken orally or sublingually. Thus, Suboxone’s formulations, which include sublingual Suboxone film, Suboxone strips, and the Suboxone pill, do not cause people to enter immediate withdrawal. However, when people crush and inject Suboxone, they will experience the effects of naloxone.
Would-be abusers who intend to get high by abusing their medication will instead find themselves entering immediate withdrawal. The presence of naloxone in Suboxone makes the medication difficult to abuse. It is therefore safer than buprenorphine alone, and some research indicates that it is safer than methadone as well.
It is highly recommended that anyone suffering from an opioid use disorder reach out to an outpatient treatment center. There, they can receive the help they need. Outpatient treatment centers can offer a Suboxone prescription as part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) plan.
Medication-assisted treatment is a “whole patient” approach to addiction treatment that involves a combination of medication and behavioral therapies. While Suboxone alone cannot cure an opioid use disorder, it helps individuals follow through with their detoxification and get more out of other therapeutic modalities, such as counseling and support groups.
Once a person has achieved a solid foundation in sobriety and has developed the skills and coping tools they need to avoid relapse, a physician can guide them through the process of tapering off of Suboxone. By making use of the full range of therapies offered by outpatient treatment centers, individuals at all levels of opioid addiction can make a full and complete recovery. Ready to start your journey towards sobriety? Get in touch with us today!