Smoking Suboxone – Is It Possible?

Smoking Suboxone Film

People undergoing opioid addiction treatment are sometimes prescribed Suboxone, a medication that reduces symptoms of opioid withdrawal and the cravings that occur during the detoxification process. Doctors working for outpatient treatment programs can write Suboxone prescriptions for people who are committed to quitting opioids and maintaining their sobriety. Suboxone treatment is a kind of opioid replacement therapy. 

By switching out recreational opiates for Suboxone, individuals can mitigate the more extreme side effects that normally occur when people stop using opioids suddenly. Suboxone can therefore be a valuable tool for improving retention rates in treatment programs, lowering the risk of relapse and overdose, and improving people’s quality of life during the challenging days of early treatment.

Nonetheless, this powerful drug is not always used exactly as it is prescribed. It is also sometimes obtained illicitly by people who are not engaged in a treatment program. There are a number of ways of abusing Suboxone. Can you smoke Suboxone? In fact, one of the more common types of Suboxone abuse occurs when people try to smoke the drug. While it is possible to smoke Suboxone, doing so comes with a number of risks and it is not pleasant.

Suboxone Abuse and Suboxone Addiction

Suboxone is designed to be unappealing as a drug of abuse. The Suboxone medication contains two different opioids. The active component of Suboxone, buprenorphine, is a partial opioid agonist that activates opioid receptors without providing a notable high. Buprenorphine also has a “ceiling effect” that prevents people from increasing the euphoric effects of the drug even when they take much higher doses. 

While it is possible to abuse buprenorphine by altering the medication and taking it using another route of administration, Suboxone includes a second drug, naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. When individuals administer a Suboxone injection, snort, or smoke Suboxone, naloxone activates. The result is that instead of experiencing an increased high, they enter immediate withdrawal.

Effects of Smoking Suboxone

Individuals who smoke Suboxone generally do so because they aim to increase the limited high the buprenorphine offers. While smoking buprenorphine by itself can increase the euphoric effects, smoking Suboxone has quite the opposite effect. This is due to the presence of naloxone. 

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. When an opioid antagonist like naloxone binds to opioid receptors in a person’s brain, spinal cord, and digestive tract, it blocks the effects of other opioids. Moreover, taking naloxone sends individuals who are high into immediate opioid withdrawal.

Naloxone is added to buprenorphine to prevent people from smoking Suboxone or engaging in other forms of abuse. Under normal circumstances, when people take their Suboxone prescriptions as directed by a physician, naloxone is not very bioavailable and buprenorphine provides the majority of Suboxone effects. 

Smoking Suboxone Strips

The most common formulations of Suboxone, which include the Suboxone pill, Suboxone strips, and Suboxone film, do not result in the activation of naloxone. When the drug is crushed or dissolved by people trying to smoke it, however, naloxone comes into play. Ultimately, smoking Suboxone is possible. However, it is unlikely to provide the euphoric effects that would-be drug abusers are generally seeking. Instead, it is likely to cancel out any euphoric opioid effects they’re experiencing and send them into immediate opioid withdrawal.

Opioid withdrawal is one of the most mentally and physically arduous types of drug withdrawal. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

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

Dangers of Smoking Suboxone

Opioid withdrawal is rarely inherently fatal on its own. However, because it is excruciatingly painful it can drive people to behave in dangerous ways. In an effort to curb painful withdrawal symptoms after smoking Suboxone, individuals may be tempted to take high doses of recreational opioids. 

Naloxone’s opioid antagonist properties, however, make it impossible to get high for a period of time. As such, it is a common mistake for people who think that their recreational drugs aren’t working to continue dosing themselves on them. They may feel nothing while the naloxone is active, but once naloxone wears off, they may instantly overdose.

Given Suboxone’s limited ability to get people high, it is sometimes abused alongside other substances. People may smoke a mixture of crushed Suboxone and crack, or Suboxone and methamphetamine. This significantly increases the risk of overdose. 

Suboxone, an opioid, is a central nervous system depressant. When a central nervous system depressant is combined with stimulants like crack cocaine or crystal meth, it is sometimes too much for a person’s body to handle. The same applies to smoking Suboxone while drinking. Suboxone and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants, and when they are combined the risks of both substances are compounded. The respiratory depression that occurs during a Suboxone overdose can be fatal.

Getting Help!

Suboxone is not a pleasant drug to abuse or use recreationally, and the dangers of smoking Suboxone are significant. However, when used in the context of an outpatient opioid treatment program, Suboxone can help achieve sobriety. Compared to other common opioid replacement therapy drugs, Suboxone carries a far lower mortality rate and is associated with lower rates of relapse. Nonetheless, it is crucial to emphasize that Suboxone alone is not a cure for an opioid use disorder. 

Outpatient treatment centers work with people on a one-on-one basis to design individualized treatment plans that offer medication, behavioral therapy, support groups, and skills training. By using a variety of treatment modalities and strengthening people’s sober social support systems, outpatient centers help individuals at all levels of addiction achieve sobriety, avoid relapse, and build lives that they can be proud of.

It rarely works out when people try to manage their opioid use disorders on their own. If you’re ready to make a change, reach out to use today to talk about options for outpatient drug rehab in Los Angeles

Reach out to us today.

Send us a message below.