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Can you get high on buprenorphine?

It’s pretty difficult to get high on buprenrophine. In fact, buprenorphine has been designed to block symptoms of opiate withdrawal and cravings by activating the opiate receptors in the central nervous system.  But buprenorphine, in general, is not an intense enough drug to produce the heightened feelings of euphoria created by other opioids or opiates. More on buprenorphine abuse potential here, with a section for your questions about buprenorphine addiction treatments at the end.

What is buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine, the main active ingredient in brand name drugs such as Buprenex®; Butrans™; Subutex®, and Suboxone, is a medicine used for treating opiate or opioid addiction. Buprenorphine works a lot like methadone, but instead of getting it at a special clinic, a doctor prescribes it to you in an office and you can take it at home. This process can make treatment and administration easier for you. But how does buprenorphine work in the brain?

Buprenorphine and central nervous system effects

Buprenorphine works by stimulating and occupying the brain’s opiate receptors but only partially satisfies them by not being a perfect fit. Thus, buprenorphine helps to ease withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings by activating the opiate receptors but not in an intense enough way to produce the heightened feelings of euphoria that heroin would produce. If a user attempts to take another opiate such as heroin while taking buprenorphine, there will be no effect.

Buprenorphine and euphoria or euphoric effect

Buprenorphine blocks symptoms of withdrawal and craving and helps you to not use heroin, morphine, or stronger opioid medications. Buprenorphine stops these opiate based drugs from getting you “high” and interrupts withdrawal symptoms and cravings (the strong feeling that you need to have it). Buprenorphine does not get you high if you use it the right way and it does not cause strong side effects. Plus, it is hard to get sick or overdose from it.

Getting high on buprenorphine

Opioid naive people are most likely to experience any kind of buprenorphine “high”. However, buprenorphine is rarely prescribed for those who have not already developed some kind of tolerance to opiate/opioid based medications or illicit opiate drugs.

Risks of buprenorphine abuse

Risks of buprenorphine abuse are relatively low because the medication has been designed to have a “ceiling effect” based on dosage. So doses of 18-32 mg can be effective, but higher doses are unlikely to produce greater effect. In other words, buprenorphine has been designed to make it difficult to get high. There are three steps, or “phases” of buprenorphine treatment for opiate addiction:

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1. Induction phase

This period usually lasts for about one week. The goal is to figure out the dose of burprenorphine that works best to relieve user’s withdrawal symptoms and craving. The first dose is usually administerd during the early stage of withdrawal – about 10 to 24 hours after their last dose of stronger opiates/opioids. First users take a test dose, followed by another dose to relieve withdrawal symptoms. Then, a doctor may ask users to stay in the office for several hours after their first dose to see how the early doses affect them. During the first week, they may have to see doctor several times. The dose can be raised if withdrawal symptoms are still present.

2. Stabilization phase

The goal in this phase of buprenorphine prescription is to continue to avoid withdrawal symptoms or cravings. Usually this phase lasts for about 1-2 months. Patients get a prescription for and take buprenorphine at home. Doctor may increase the dose so that they do not have to take buprenorphine every day.

3. Maintenance phase

While maintaining doses of buprenorphine, users visit the doctor’s office to get a refill of buprenorphine about once a month. If patients have a medical history of long time heroin/opiate/opioid use and/or relapse, they may do best taking buprenorphine for a very long time. The key is to not go back to using stronger drugs and to adapt lifestyle changes before coming off buprenorphine for good.

Questions about buprenorphine

Do you still have questions about buprenorphine use or abuse? Please leave your questions in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NY State Department of Health: Buprenorphine: A New Drug for Treating Heroin Addiction
Medline Plus: Buprenorphine
Va Department of Mental Health: Buprenorphine Resource Guide

Photo credit: ruaz

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19 Responses to “Can you get high on buprenorphine?
greg
1:45 pm September 9th, 2014

in your opinion what would be better to take oxycodone or suboxone,at this point I am taking 4 -30 milligram oxycodone a day , down from 7 a day , but cutting down any further seems impossible, my r.l.s. is unbearable, and insomnia is incredible, I only sleep when I am totally exhausted, I have a long list of health issues going back 25 yrs, with 7 radical surgeries, I can live with the pain but I can not continue on with the oxys, so my question is,which one in your opinion only , if you were me , which one would be better, not that either one is good.I don’t want to trade one for the other but to me the suboxone may be worth a shot ????

10:01 am September 15th, 2014

Hello Greg. You are in a unique medical condition. I don’t know your medical history…and it would be irresponsable for me to give you an over-the-internet advise. I’d say it’s best to see your doctor and explain that you want off the oxycodone. Maybe discuss the possibilities for starting suboxone…

Mary mason
12:46 am April 16th, 2015

Hi maryi really need your advice, I was on suboxon for one yr, while I was on it another doc ordered a colonoscopity, When I arrived at my appt they asked me what meds I was on and I told them I was on suboxon, they canceled my test cuz they said the twilight sedation won’t work. I have been off subs. Now. 1 month. Do you think I can get that test now and have the twilight sedation work or should I wait? I also want to know if it is the buprenorphine Or the opiate that blocked the twilight sedation Thank you

Jason
5:31 am August 30th, 2015

This is ALL nonsense!! Been taking Subutex for almost 10 years now and I assure you it gets you very high, especially if snorted. And buprenorphine does not keep one from getting high on other opioids! Naloxone, which is not in Subutex but is in Suboxone is the drug which conter effects the effects of narcotics. I’ve taken every thing from oxycontin, morphine, diladid, heroin, hydrocodone, fentanol… And I still prefer the high of Subutex. And it will NOT show up on any 5 to 9 panel drug screen. Passes every test I’ve ever taken for probation. Parole, job UA’s…Subutex has kept me off of hard narcotics for a long time now and I don’t know where I’d be with out it.If you aren’t getting high then you’re doing something wrong or need a higher dose, though 8 mg should be enough for anyone. I’ve given my friend a sliver that was probably an eighth of a quarter and he was high for hours and said it was too much, so be careful how you use it.

Jason
5:37 am August 30th, 2015

Greg… One thing you need to know is Suboxone doesn’t take away any pain, so if that’s your problem I’d say stick to the oxy, or maybe try ms contin.

Marianne
2:33 pm September 11th, 2015

i have done 250mg detox off methadone for 35 days still ache stiff went to high point to try sub ozone cause clinic took longer. I had. Help I went from The moment I was released from court to high point put on 4subs. Daily2 am 2 later in day I felt awesome I missed my appointment was my biggest mistake. Went back to meth was on 165mg last year want off I’m on46mg I have clonodin trmadol Trazadone to help. Any other helpful hints I really need to be home Hate waking at500am. For ride don’t help my arthritis Help. Anyone I’m 53.

3:05 pm September 22nd, 2015

Hello Marianne. I’d suggest a clinical detox again. You will be safer if monitored 24/7 with professional medical staff at your disposal to help lower the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms.

Jamea
6:45 am September 27th, 2015

Hi my wife takes vics and percs but want to quit she been on them for 10 years..she been on dialysis for 9 years and just had a kidney transplant. We desperately need to know if suboxone, subutex,or buprenophine is kidney friendly or just continue doing vics ,percs.whats her best bet?terrible withdrawals.

matthew
9:57 am October 11th, 2015

Hello I’m Matt l was addicted to tramadol 50mg 20 pills a day threw the day, l was a nervus reck l got help with a clinic in nottingham john storer clinic fantastic people a lady nurse there saved my life and put me on subs 4mg to start with up then to 8mg and eyebrow down to 6mg after 7 months then down to 4mg in October and towards the end of this month l start to pick up as I’ve been supervised every day the problems only are some chemists look down there nose at you just goes to show there’s a lot of negative people out there anyhow it worked for me just push threw l no it easy said then done ….. All the best to all of you

5:12 pm October 19th, 2015

Hi Jamea. Please consult your wife’s doctor and ask about his/her professional advise before determining the best course of treatment for her. I wish her a fast recovery.

Jackie
4:16 am October 20th, 2015

For everyone that is thinking about suboxin, PLEASE PLEASE DONT DO IT. I was on norco for 10 yrs and I got tired of chasing a high. So I rent to a doc that put me on suboxin. He kept me on it for 14months. OMG!!!! It was the worst thing I had ever done. The withdraws were horrible and it was extremely expensive. I ached so bad I wanted to die. I vomited so much. If you are strong enough taper ur self off the pain pills ur self. If you ever got hurt or needed surgery and HAD to have pain Meds then forget it cuz it will not work cuz of the buprenorphine.
Please please please hear what I am telling you.
And I am telling you it takes 3 months to get it completely out of you system.
I will check back in a few days and see if anyone wants to talk on the phone or via email.

Justin
8:37 pm October 24th, 2015

Hi Jackie I just started subutext 12 mg a day starting yeste day. I was on 100-150 mg of oxy a day to feel normal I doubt I could ever taper them but is the subutext going to be harder to get off or worst wd. I just want my life back after 5 yrs of opiate abuse.

Bill
12:54 am November 24th, 2015

Ok, lets clear some stuff up. I have been on subutex for about 7 years now. I take 2mg subutex 3-4 times a day for back and knee pain. Buprenorphine will most definitely help with pain. They have been prescribing it in Europe for a long time in the form of Buprenex.
Last year I had to have a tooth extraction. They put me under with fentanyl and Versed. It knocked me out and I didn’t feel a thing. Afterwards I sucked it up and just took ibuprofen for the pain.
Next year I have to have my knee replaced. Am i concerned about my subutex when it comes to surgery, sure, but education is the best way to go.
I will be in close contact with my pain management doctor who will consult with the surgeons. I have already indicated that I am aware of the intense pain immediately following knee surgery and I am a big puss when it comes to pain. They have assured me they will adequately manage the pain.
I will probably stop my subutex 3 days prior to surgery so enough of it is clear so it won’t interfere with the fentanyl or dilaudid, or whatever they decided to give me for pain. When I am adequately recovered from my knee surgery I will probably resume taking subutex that i have been taking for my back pain.
Subutex is a life saver. It is a medicine that does not get me high and allows me to continue to work with fear of being intoxicated.

Cristy
3:05 am November 24th, 2015

I am a herion addict, started on vicodin and eventually worked my way up to oxycontin. When that got to expensive I started shooting herion. I love the high it gives you, the more you do it the more you want it. Herion is just as addictive as crack, but much cheaper. After ruining my looks, my teeth, my reputation, and losing everyone that I loved, including my kids, I went on methadone. I was in a maintenece program for a long time, I stayed clean for over 7 years, I started to get my life back finally. But as usual life happens and my car broke down so I no longer had transportation to my methadone clinic. I got back into drugs for awhile, then decided to try suboxone. The first few times I tried it, I went into severe withdrawls right away. I was ready to shoot myslf. After a few tries a Dr. perscribed me subutex which worked good enough. After awhile I went onto suboxone, 24 mg, a day. It kept me from being sick which I was grateful for but did nothing what so ever to curb my cravings. I still wanted to get high veryday. If I took it in the morning and waited a few hours, I was able to get high and feel it. So all it really did was keep me from being sick until I wanted to get high again. THE BIGGEST MYTH THAT PPL BELIEVE IS THAT IF YOU INJECT SUBOXONE, OR ANYTHING IN THAT FAMILY OF MEDICINE THAT IT WILL SEND YOU STRAIGHT INTO WITHDRAWLS. AS LONG AS YOU HAVENT DONE ANY DRUGS IN 24 HRS, OR ANY METHADONE IN 24-48 HRS (DEPENDING ON THE AMOUNT OF MDONE, ANYTHING UNDER 30 MG WILL NOT SEND YOU IN WITHDRAWS.) After I was on subs for a lil while I could go back in forth, as long as I didnt go so long w/out doing any subs that it was no longer in my system a few days was fine more than that I’d hav to be careful. So to all you dumb ass doctors that think suboxone is the new miracle drug, you couldnt be more wrong. It did absolutely nothing for my cravings, didnt help my pain at all, and I was still shooting up. So were all my other friends that was on it. Personally I believe the only way I’d ever be able to stay clean, with no cravings, and be able to function like an upstanding citizen is to be in a methadone maintence program. I have been fighting this addiction for over 20 years, the sad part is the Dr.’s will not listen to anything you say or believe it bc they label you as a lying, low-life, no good for nothing junkie. So everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie. Which is discrimination. BUT PLEASE NOTE SUBOXONE IS NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER DRUG, YOU CAN SHOOT IT FOR SURE AND GET HIGH……JUST FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Cristy
3:12 am November 24th, 2015

BUPRENORPHINE DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR PAIN OR CRAVING!!!!! SO LOOK FORWARD TO ALOT OF SUFFERING IF YOU PLAN TO START ON THIS MEDICINE….

Todd
2:15 am December 16th, 2015

Suboxone has kept me clean from Roxicodone for almost 2 years now. It works for my cravings and gives SOME pain relief. I also take other supplements with my doses for help with my “happy brain chemicals” and for potentiation. I’m prescribed 12 mg daily, but I usually only max out at 6 mg for the day. I take 2 mg doses 2-3 times per day. Maybe right now I’m dependent on Suboxone, but I’m definitely not addicted like I was with Roxis. I strived on snorting those pills and whenever I’d prepare it for dosing, I’d be in anxiety mode and trying to move as quick as possible. Suboxone on the other hand keeps me satisfied for much longer and I don’t “strive” on it like I did with pills. I’d rather have Subutex, but I’m grateful for Suboxone and how it helps me and many others. I believe Buprenorphine products could work for other drug withdrawals too, such as benzos, amps, and cocaine. All I know is that when I wake up everyday, I don’t have to wake up feeling terrible and rush toward crushing and snorting a pill first thing. I can get up, have my coffee, take my supplements, Suboxone, and Klonopin without being all rushy and striving to be high as quick as possible. I used to use 5-6 30 mg Roxicodone daily.

Bill
5:03 pm December 16th, 2015

What’s the average time patients need to recover from opioid abuse, using soboxone. ?

Gerald
7:53 pm April 30th, 2016

I took 3 10mg loratabs 5 hours ago. Just picked up my prescription of buprenorphine and naloxone tablets. I’m a long time opiate user. If i take them now how will they affect me?

Marc
5:59 am June 24th, 2016

Today is day number 1. I had som diarrhea today and I’m feeling nausea . I been taking 2-4 ocxycodone for almost a year I went to a pain management guy. I’ve been on 15mg of morphine 3 x daily and 7.5 of ocxycodone. I took less than percribed. I called my sponsor and he said Stop everything now. I have plenty of meds left. I don’t want to feel sick. I have lorazepam that I can take. I have a class tomorrow and I am afraid. My sponsor is old school. I have 17+ years clean. I’m so scared. What can I do? I need help. I can and will stop. I just don’t want to be sick.

Thank you
Marc W

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