Does Suboxone Weaken Your Immune System?

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No, Suboxone does not significantly weaken your immune system as far as we know.

In fact, this prescription medication could help you heal if you've been using drugs like heroin for a long time. 

Can You Take Suboxone With a Weak Immune System?

Yes, people with weak immune systems can take Suboxone. Your prescription medication will not worsen your immunity.

Opioids like heroin and OxyContin deeply impact your immune system, and studies suggest that they can suppress your natural immunity.[1] In addition, injection drug use with substances like heroin or fentanyl can greatly increase your risk of contracting several serious infections such as Hepatitis C or HIV.

Buprenorphine is an opioid, but it doesn't have the same immune system impact. Experts even suggest that people who need an opioid for pain due to an immune-suppressing disease (like cancer) should use buprenorphine instead of other opioid painkillers to minimize risks of long term dependence and overdose. [2]

Currently there are no contraindications to using Suboxone if you have a condition known to affect your immune system such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or organ transplant.

If you've been living with a chronic illness that suppresses your immune system, this may be all the more reason to use Suboxone to help maintain abstinence from other opioids, which can cause decreased immunity, risk of various infections, and a multitude of other health risks.

Talk to your doctor about whether or not Suboxone might be right for you.

Sources

  1. A Double-Edged Sword of Using Opioids and COVID-19: A Toxicological View. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13011-020-00333-y. December 2020. Accessed July 2022.
  2. Buprenorphine: An Attractive Opioid With Underutilized Potential in Treatment of Chronic Pain. Journal of Pain Research. https://www.dovepress.com/buprenorphine-ndash-an-attractive-opioid-with-underutilized-potential--peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-JPR. December 2015. Accessed July 2022.
  3. Opioids and the Immune System. Palliative Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16764216/. 2006. Accessed July 2022.
  4. Buprenorphine and Methadone Maintenance Treatment of Heroin Addicts Preserves Immune Function. Brain Behavior and Immunity. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5557047_Buprenorphine_and_methadone_maintenance_treatment_of_heroin_addicts_preserves_immune_function. June 2008. Accessed July 2022.
  5. Infectious Diseases, Opioids, and Injection Drug Use. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/pwid/opioid-use.html. August 2021. Accessed July 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 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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