Mixing Suboxone and alcohol is inadvisable in any quantity due to their overlapping ability to slow breathing. Recreational alcohol use is a poor reason for taking on such risk.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat opioid addiction, reducing the effects of withdrawal and the user’s craving for opioids. Its use can often be the extra help a person addicted to drugs needs to avoid relapse.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, blocking opioid receptors. It can send a user into opioid withdrawal if taken in particular doses.
Naloxone helps to prevent Suboxone abuse. If the medication is injected or snorted, naloxone is activated. It will quickly send the person into opioid withdrawal.
Buprenorphine is where the bulk of Suboxone’s danger comes from. While Suboxone is not at high risk for abuse (due to naloxone, as noted above), it can be abused in some situations. People may take doses more frequently, take higher doses, or combine the medication with other substances.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. While it is weaker than a full opioid agonist like oxycodone or heroin, it still can cause a sense of euphoria.
So, while it is difficult to abuse Suboxone, it is possible.
Suboxone and Alcohol
Suboxone users — both those taking it as prescribed and those abusing it — should familiarize themselves with the drugs most likely to have a negative reaction with it.
As numerous sources note, any drug that affects breathing is especially dangerous. These sorts of drugs should not be taken in any amount with Suboxone without first discussing it with your doctor.
Many drug addiction treatment programs will discourage the use of alcohol as a general rule. People who have an addiction to one drug are at risk for replacing their original substance of abuse with another substance. With Suboxone, however, the danger goes beyond that.
Of all the drugs that are dangerous to use with Suboxone, alcohol is particularly harmful. It is probably the most likely to be abused with Suboxone, accidentally or otherwise, and it can significantly affect breathing rates.
Risks of Combining Alcohol and Suboxone
Alcohol abuse can lead to a number of problems, both minor and major, on its own. It affects judgment, something that is concerning if you are at risk for abusing drugs.
Alcohol abuse can lead to the following issues, among others:
- Poor judgment
- Lack of coordination
- Irregular breathing
- Difficulty waking or coma, in severe cases
Meanwhile, Suboxone abuse can have the following effects:
- Pain, numbness, and/or redness around the mouth
- Headache or dizziness
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Sleep problems (both drowsiness and insomnia)
- Constipation and stomach problems
- Feeling drunk or having trouble concentrating
In severe cases, Suboxone abuse can cause breathing problems or even cause breathing to stop. It can cause a person to become comatose or even die.
These drugs are dangerous to abuse alone. When mixed, the overlap of severe symptoms is clear.
A person abusing both substances not only risks breathing too slowly, but they may also experience severe stomach distress, find it very difficult to move, and feel significant pain.
If you or someone you know seems to be experiencing dangerous symptoms of any kind, call 911 immediately. Most areas have Good Samaritan laws that will protect you from penalty if you call 911 for help after an overdose.
Time is of the essence when it comes to overdose. Don’t delay calling for help.
When is Mixing Drugs Safe?
It is never safe to mix alcohol with Suboxone.
If you are abusing these substances, it’s a sign that you need treatment, particularly if you were using Suboxone to address an opioid addiction. It may be time to re-enter or reassess your treatment program.
Despite the risks and warnings, if you still abuse alcohol and Suboxone, monitor your breathing carefully. Control your alcohol intake.
Alcohol takes time to get into the bloodstream and then makes you feel drunk, so it’s easy to consume more than you intend.
If your breathing seems to be slowing, stop drinking and call 911 immediately.
This is a clear sign that you are in imminent danger.
While Suboxone should not be abused with any recreational drugs, it’s particularly important to avoid taking it with drugs or substances that affect your breathing.
Suboxone obviously should not be abused with other opioids. It is counter to the entire purpose of the medication, and it is possible that the naloxone in Suboxone may lead to withdrawal symptoms.
This will be difficult to predict, as the level of naloxone in a Suboxone tablet is not especially high.
Mixing drugs doesn’t always produce deadly results, but the risk is present every time you combine alcohol and Suboxone.
The only drugs you should be taking with Suboxone are those you need for health reasons that you know are safe. Always consult a doctor if there is any confusion.
Some drugs will be safe to take with Suboxone. Alcohol and recreational drugs, however, are never safe to mix with Suboxone.