Suboxone isn’t generally associated with significant personality changes or mood swings.
In population based studies of thousands of individuals, Suboxone has not been shown to cause clinically significant changes in mood. That being said, every individual is different and individuals may notice changes in their mood – either positive or negative – while on Suboxone.
What Are the Effects of Suboxone on Personality Changes & Mood Swings?
While some people may notice personality changes or mood swings while on Suboxone, this may or may not be attributable to the Suboxone itself.
Suboxone is often started in individuals at critical times in their lives, particularly when they are making a commitment to recovering from drug use. As a result, they may notice negative mood changes – depression, anxiety, aggression, or even conversely an improved mood that comes with feelings of success and accomplishment when abstaining from drug use.
It’s easy to attribute mood changes (fatigue, anxiety, irritability) with medication when they’re actually more attributable to the realities of quitting drugs and significant changes in lifestyle.
Mood and personality are highly complicated, multifactorial traits. It is often hard to say for sure if mood changes are from Suboxone alone or from other factors in a person’s life.
How Does Suboxone Affect the Brain?
Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, acting on the brain in a way similar to how full opioid agonists like heroin and morphine do but with significantly less potency. It attaches to receptors in the brain called opioid receptors. Buprenorphine occupies the receptors, but it doesn’t activate them to the same degree as full opioid agonists, meaning that users are unlikely to experience euphoria or over-sedation. However, they are potent enough to satisfy the brain’s cravings for opioids and prevent withdrawal symptoms and return to opioid use. Suboxone can also blunt the effects of other opioids, making a person less likely to misuse other opioids while on Suboxone.
Potential Positive Changes in Mood While On Suboxone
A 2017 study explored whether buprenorphine, the main ingredient in Suboxone, may affect how people who had low, mild, moderate, and severe scores on the Depression-Anxiety-Stress Scale react to emotional stimuli. The study found that buprenorphine reduced attention to fearful facial expressions, and it also showed that individuals tended to give greater ratings of positivity to images with social content.
This study concluded that low doses of buprenorphine may reduce some dimensions of responses to negative emotional stimuli in individuals high on the depression or anxiety scale. Put another way, it may make an individual less reactive to certain things that, when not on buprenorphine, would have previously caused them to feel negative emotions.
Additionally, both this study and others have noted buprenorphine’s potential antidepressant properties. The drug has shown antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects in studies and may be able to help some patients with depression.
While this is just one study and is certainly not conclusive, it does reinforce the assertion that Suboxone may potentially improve mood and decrease anxiety/depressive symptoms in certain individuals.
Suboxone and Mood: The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Suboxone may or may not affect people’s mood in either positive or negative ways. The medication itself has NOT been shown to have a negative effect on mood, depression, or anxiety. In fact, some people find that, through abstaining from drug use, their mood and quality of life actually drastically improves as a result of Suboxone therapy.
Each individual is different, and mood is extremely multi-factorial. If you do experience mood changes while on Suboxone, you can always reach out to your doctor.
If you’re considering Suboxone treatment, understand that it is not a “cure” for addiction. Instead, it is a useful tool for controlling your opioid cravings and is a first step as part of a greater long term treatment plan. The most effective treatment for OUD involves a combination of both medications and psychosocial support/behavioral therapies.
At Bicycle Health, we can help you combine Suboxone treatment with behavioral therapy in order to optimize your success in your recovery. If you are interested in learning more, reach out to us at Bicycle health.
- Effects of Buprenorphine on Responses to Emotional Stimuli in Individuals With a Range of Mood Symptomatology. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article/21/2/120/4102059. February 2018. Accessed November 2022.
- Buprenorphine Sublingual and Buccal (Opioid Dependence). National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605002.html. January 2022. Accessed November 2022.
- Thorough Technical Explanation of Buprenorphine. The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment. https://www.naabt.org/education/technical_explanation_buprenorphine.cfm. Accessed November 2022.
Medically Reviewed By 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 ... Read More