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You cannot smoke Suboxone. The medication is typically sold in a strip that dissolves under your tongue. To smoke it, you would have to submerge the strip in water, heat the liquid, and inhale the vapors. Any high you might get from smoking Suboxone is so mild it would probably not be noticeable. 

What is Suboxone? 

Suboxone is a prescription medication used to ease opioid withdrawal and drug-related cravings. If you have a prescription for Suboxone, you're using this medication to overcome an opioid use disorder. It is also occasionally used as a pain medication in patients who do not have opioid use disorders. 

Each strip contains two ingredients:

  • Buprenorphine is a medication that eases cravings and reduces physical discomfort associated with opioid withdrawal
  • Naloxone is a medication to block misuse potential. Use too much, and this ingredient will block your high.

Can You Smoke Suboxone?

Generally, no. Suboxone comes in several forms, including pills, films, patches and injectables. While it is potentially possible to crush and smoke the pill form of Suboxone, the vast majority of people with Suboxone prescriptions use the films, which are very difficult to turn into powder and therefore it is not really possible to smoke the Suboxone film.[1] Strips can't be smoked in their pure form, as they won't catch fire. Dissolving strips and inhaling the vapors isn't effective either. 

Can You Snort Suboxone?

When Suboxone was sold exclusively in pill form, you could crush the pills and sniff or snort them [2] But it's very hard to snort a strip, which is part of the reason Suboxone is usually dispensed in film/strip form these days, to prevent misuse. Some people immerse strips in a liquid, heat the whole solution, and sniff up anything left behind. People who do snort Suboxone find that the high is mild if even present at all, thus most people do not misuse Suboxone by snorting it. [3] 

Why Do People Misuse Suboxone?

Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, attaches to receptors used by drugs like heroin to fill up those receptors and prevent the withdrawal and craving symptoms that would otherwise be experienced by the individual. Suboxone itself is a partial opioid agonist, which means it can cause a high like feeling if used by someone who is opioid naïve. However, it is a weaker opioid than oxycodone or heroin and so it can prevent withdrawal symptoms without getting a person “high” like a full opioid agonist might. 

75% of people using buprenorphine deny ever misusing it.[4] Most people take the drug as prescribed by their doctors to fight an opioid use disorder. Of those who misuse buprenorphine, most report doing so in an attempt to relieve physical pain.[5] However, research shows that the majority of patients using Suboxone do so for the legitimate medical purpose of preventing opioid use disorder. Suboxone is an important and sometimes life saving medication for these individuals. 

References

  1. Buprenorphine Use by the Smoking Route in Gaols in NSW. Drug and Alcohol Review. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09595230802043807?journalCode=idar20. July 2009. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Subutex Snorters: A Case Series. Journal of Substance Use. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09595230802043807?journalCode=idar20. July 2009. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Intranasal Buprenorphine Alone and in Combination with Naloxone: Abuse Liability and Reinforcing Efficacy in Physically Dependent Opioid Abusers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09595230802043807?journalCode=idar20. May 2019. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Buprenorphine Misuse Decreased Among U.S. Adults with Opioid Use Disorder from 2015 to 2019. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09595230802043807?journalCode=idar20. October 2021. Accessed June 2022.
  1. Trends in and Characteristics of Buprenorphine Misuse Among Adults in the U.S. JAMA. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09595230802043807?journalCode=idar20. October 2021. Accessed June 2022. 

Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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