Monday October 24th 2016

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Is Suboxone addictive?

YES. Suboxone is addictive.

But what makes Suboxone (a combinations of buprenorphine and naloxone) addictive? While many people do not get high on Suboxone, it is possible.   So how do you know that you’re a Suboxone addict? We’ll review these questions here. And then we invite your questions or comments about the addictive potential of Suboxone at the end.

What is Suboxone used for?

Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) is a medication used to help treat opiate addiction, making it easier to quit strong opiates like heroin or morphine without experiencing withdrawals. Suboxone helps suppress opiate cravings as well. However, in most cases, Suboxone does not cause the same feelings of euphoria as opiate medications so it’s less likely to be abused by drug addiction patients to get high.

What is Suboxone made of?

Suboxone is an opioid partial agonist-antagonist which contains the drugs buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride. This class of medication is not the same as straight opiates, but acts in a similar way on the brain. Basically, Suboxone works to stop drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms as well as block the effects of heroin if you take it.

How addictive is Suboxone?

Suboxone is much less addictive than other options for treating opiate dependence. Nevertheless, it’s possible to abuse Suboxone. If you use Suboxone in a way other than directed by a doctor (in large amounts, more frequently than normally taken, snorting Suboxone side effects, etc.), you are abusing Suboxone. However, doctors make an effort to keep patients from developing a Suboxone addiction during treatment for opiate withdrawals. They do this by carefully monitoring each individual’s Suboxone use.

Suboxone dependence vs. addiction

You’re more likely to develop a physical dependence on Suboxone than a drug addiction during the course of treatment. A dependence simply means that you are unable to stop using Suboxone without experiencing withdrawal effects. These effects are much more likely in someone who uses Suboxone long-term.

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While addiction to Suboxone is a little less common than dependence, it can involve developing a tolerance to the medication, requiring greater and greater doses to achieve the same level of pain relief. Suboxone addicts also experience strong cravings for Suboxone. Despite the negative consequences of their actions, it’s difficult to avoid taking Suboxone for an addict. It is this psychological compulsion to use Suboxone in the face of negative outcomes which sets apart a Suboxone addict from a physically dependent person.  And while it’s possible that Suboxone show on drug test, buprenorphine specific drug screens are costly and not normally used in standard employment drug testing.

How do you get addicted to Suboxone?

Are you abusing Suboxone by taking it too frequently or in larger than normal doses? If you’re taking Suboxone as directed in your prescription, you probably aren’t addicted. Factors which will make you more likely to develop a Suboxone addiction include:

  1. chewing or crushing Suboxone medications into a powder and snorting Suboxone
  2. crushing Suboxone to dissolve in water and inject
  3. taking Suboxone in higher doses than prescribed
  4. taking Suboxone more frequently than prescribed

Signs of Suboxone addiction

While it can be hard to distinguish Suboxone addiction and dependence, there are some tell-tale signs which can let you know if you’re addicted to Suboxone. If you feel the need to take Suboxone compulsively, or feel you’re unable to function normally without it, those can be signs of addiction. Other signs of Suboxone addiction include:

  • Continuing to use Suboxone even if it has negative consequences
  • Cravings for Suboxone (sometime even if you’ve taken it recently)
  • Seeking Suboxone in order to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain

Suboxone addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about Suboxone addiction potential? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: State of New York Department of Health: Methadone or buprenorphine treatment
Medline Plus: Buprenorphine Sublingual
FDA: Subutex and Suboxone Questions


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15 Responses to “Is Suboxone addictive?
8:32 pm July 30th, 2012

My 25 yr old daughter has been on Suboxone for about 2 years, with intermittent relapses back to heroin in between. After completing an in-house rehab program this spring, she has relapsed over the past few days. She tells me she has taken a very high does of Subs in order to get high. I don’t know if this is true, but if it is, I suspect that she has crushed and snorted the pills, as she’s had a lot of nose blowing, bleeding, and irritation which I’ve noticed over the past week or so (and I see no new tracks on her arms), I read a post here which said that if the Subs are abused by crushing and snorting, shooting or smoking, then the Noloxone will reverse the affects of the high, and medical attention is necessary. I’m very concerned. Can anyone tell me what happens when these pills are crushed which causes it to be dangerous and necessitates medical attention? Any info will be very much appreciated, thanks.

2:21 am July 31st, 2012

Hi Kath. I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter is back “out” again. That must be so difficult! I’d suggest that you report your suspicions to her prescribing doctor…and her probation officer.

Check out this article on snorting Suboxone, and please let us know what we can do to help further! You are in our thoughts.

9:42 am August 4th, 2012

I agree with your findings. Nowadays it is teenagers who are heavily addicted to alcohol and drugs. Initially, it seems just as a fun. As time pass on, they are led to a situation in which they can’t live without it. Blogs like this provides a keen knowledge on how dreadful the drug addiction is. Keep posting like this.

9:51 pm September 24th, 2012

I have tried “subs” twice and this time I have been taking them for two years without relapse. The first time I took them I wasnt ready to quit and ended up right back where I started.
Being ready to quit not just the drugs but the lifesyle and the sneaky behavior is ALL important. Otherwise your just wasting time and alot of money.
Now I combine Suboxone with a healthy dose of AA.

4:41 am December 28th, 2012

A little late to the party here but I will post anyway because I feel I can give good insight. I’ve been in and out of methadone clinics and suboxone programs all to shoot heroin. I finally snapped out of one day when I decided that I wanted to quit. No counselor or program could change my mind, I basically had to decide I was done chasing dope all day with low life people and that was not something I wanted to continue doing. I’m not a doctor but from what I understand it’s actually the bupe in Suboxone that blocks the effects of other drugs getting you high because of it’s high affinity to bind to the brain’s receptors and prevent lesser drugs (heroin, morphine, oxycontin) from binding onto the receptors. Yes, Suboxone is a powerful opiod with a long half-life. The naloxone is there to help prevent addicts from crushing, sniffing, and injecting the drug by throwing them into immediate precipitated withdrawals, Naloxone is also what they give to help revive overdose patients in the hospital. I can only speak from an IV perspective but when I was injecting Suboxone I would stir it in a spoon and let the milky white substance (naloxone) settle at the bottom and suck up everything else through the cotton and I never had a problem with being thrown into withdrawal by the naloxone. I have taken Suboxone too early after doing some other opiate and had severe withdrawals for approximately four hours. I didn’t need to go to hospital or has anyone else I have ever known had to but it’s a very unpleasant experience (hot and cold sweats, diahhrea, restless legs, skin crawling, etc), So yeah if she goes into withdrawal it might be the a good kick in the butt for her. Good Luck!

3:57 pm March 25th, 2013

Do you think I could be addicted to suboxone? I started it in the hospital & was on 16 mgs/ day for abt. 2 days. Since I’ve been home, I’ve taken 4 mgs 4 times per day. I’ve been home almost 2 days. I’m worried about this. Thank you.

2:37 pm March 26th, 2013

Hi Claire. Physical dependence on Suboxone is different than addiction. Why were you prescribed Suboxone? What medical condition are you treating?

3:10 am May 14th, 2013

I was on methadone for 5 years. I tapered down to 3 mg then started taking a low dose of suboxone (2mg, then 1mg) for 7 days. Is 7 days long enough to become physically dependant on suboxone? Or does it usually take longer than 7 days to become physically dependant?

9:43 pm May 6th, 2015

I need to get off subs ..I’ve be taking them (getting from the streets) fir about 2 years .. ( shooting) i started cause i was so so so sick from opiates hooked from neck injuries .. um so afraid if i stop using ill b as sick as opiates made me ..i thought it was the end of the world that’s how sick i got and i never went thro the doc (my stupidity ) i take about half a strip a day sometimes less but not usually

3:49 pm May 21st, 2015

Hello Duana. Although Suboxone withdrawal is milder than opiate drugs withdrawal, you can expect it to be pretty harsh. Ask your doctor’s help before and during Suboxone withdrawal. I do not recommend you do this without medications to soothe symptoms and proper medical assistance.

4:56 pm July 14th, 2015

breaking down addiction by specific drug is misleading. if you are addicted to heroin, roxicodone, dilaudid, or on a sub or meth program- you are physically addicted to opiates. any med in the family will feed your monkey so legit rx percoset dependents are physically no different than an iv heroin addict.

4:59 pm July 14th, 2015

jessica- 7 days of subs will have u ok for the 7 days, but methadone is a 6 to 8 week withdrawal. so after that week you’re in for a world of misery

4:56 am August 10th, 2015

The nalaxone is irrelavent. The buprenorphine will block the nalalxone from having any effect even if used iv. Contrary to what other medical professionals say. Ultimately, the nalaxone is put there as a scare tactic by the medical community, and most importantly, the pharmaceutical companies. Nalaxone will, however, rip other opiate drugs right off the receptors. But suboxone has too high an affinity. You should have no worries about your daughter. When she says she is “getting high” from suboxone I suspect you misinterpreted her words, or she simply means she’s reverted to alternative uses other then sublingual because she feels the dosage is too low, or she’s again missing that feeling of getting high and is desperately only able to get suboxone. The only way a person could get high from subs is if they are not a user, or have very low tolerance. If she is a long time heroin addict, subs are likely to give her no feeling of getting high, just making her stabe even if she’s snorting or using iv. I can guarantee she is either snorting or using iv because of the curious side of drug use commonly called “needle fixation” (just like oral fixation with smoking). This is where the person is hooked on the practice (not drug) of snorting or shooting up (the routine of it), along with the substance addiction. You need not worry of hospitalization for this, but more from the damage to her nose. Best regards.

5:11 am August 10th, 2015

Didn’t realize the post was so old. Sorry. And for the person who said suboxone withdrawal is milder and the one that says it only lasts 7 days; suboxone if taken for more then a few days, can cause a withdrawal equivalent if not worse then other opiates, and can last for up to a month, and in some cases more. Take it from someone who went through the hell of weaning off of it. Even if weaned down to a crumb, when you stop taking that little crumb you can expect full blown withdrawal in most cases. I’m not sure why other medical professionals claim it is non addictive and easy to come off of. I don’t tell any of my clients that. I tell them the truth. That is that it is a strong opiate several times the strength of morphine milligram to milligram in pain killing (but other as well) aspect, and can become addictive if taken long term, AND that it can cause severe withdrawal just as other opiates can. Addicts should try going cold turkey before going to suboxone treatment. It is a powerful drug just like heroin. Most will only seem treatment or detox only if they hit rock bottom. NA/AA can help for some, but I find for myself and most recovering addicts it is all but useless besides a free counseling/venting venue and can sometimes make people crave even worse due to all the talk of drug use and the great deal of members who often keep relapsing . Keep in mind social workers claim AA /NA has a high percentage of successful members (I’ve heard as high as 80% before), but many often lie and the real percentage is around 10-20%. I’m not trying to scare any users away from it, as it can sometimes be a great tool, but I prefer to be solemnly honest to people seeking help, instead of giving false hope. That makes them know it’s a scary and difficult ride, and not just seeing a doctor, going to counsleing, taking meds and boom your all better. It’s a complete life change and investment. Good luck to all!

8:10 pm April 20th, 2016

If I use suboxone (once) without being addicted to opiates will I develop a addiction to suboxone.

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