People might try to inject Suboxone to get high. Because it comes in a film form, people can try to dissolve and inject it. This is why is it combined with the medication Naloxone, to prevent people from getting high and/or overdosing if they attempt to misuse it by injecting. In this way, the addition of Naloxone serves as a safety mechanism to prevent misuse. Injecting Suboxone may cause withdrawal symptoms. It may also lead to dangerous complications such as blood clots, skin infections, and vein damage. If you are tempted to inject or misuse your suboxone, talk to your doctor.
Can You Get High From Injecting Suboxone?
Generally, no. Suboxone contains Naloxone as a built-in safeguard to prevent getting high from injection.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it reverses the effects of opioids. It is included in combination with the active ingredient Buprenorphine in the medication Suboxone.
If a person injects Suboxone, both the Buprenorphine and the Naloxone enter the bloodstream. The Naloxone “overrules” the Buprenorphine, preventing the person from getting high and also preventing an accidental overdose.
In one study, people who injected Suboxone said they felt “nothing,” including no euphoria, from the practice.
What Are the Side Effects of Shooting Suboxone?
“Shooting” Suboxone, or tampering with the medication to take it intravenously, is dangerous. These are just some of the problems associated with injecting Suboxone:
If you have other opioids in your body and you inject Suboxone at the same time or shortly thereafter, you can induced what is called a “precipitated withdrawal”. You could develop nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and other flu-like discomfort.
In one study, almost 70% of people tried injecting Suboxone, and 80% of them had a bad experience.
Suboxone should dissolve beneath the tongue and not enter your body through the bloodstream. Injecting the drug can lead to:
- Soft tissue infections
- HIB infection
- Hepatitis C infection
Researchers say buprenorphine products are six times safer than methadone products in terms of overdose risk. But combining Suboxone with medications like benzodiazepines can lead to extreme sedation and overdose.
Symptoms include the following:
- Extreme sleepiness, drowsiness, or grogginess
- Dizziness and falling over
- Blurry vision that does not improve
- Trouble breathing or lack of breathing
- Shallow or slowed breathing
- Pinpoint pupils
- Becoming unresponsive after passing out
If your opioid use disorder was previously controlled on Suboxone, injecting the medication indicates you’re not fully in control. It could also lead to problematic opioid use.
Speak with your treatment provider immediately if feeling compelled to inject Suboxone.
What Are the Benefits of Using Suboxone Properly?
Suboxone is a very effective and safe treatment for opioid use disorder when taken as prescribed.
Since buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, this medication does not cause a potent high like opioids do. Instead, buprenorphine binds to opioid receptors in the brain for a full day or more, reducing withdrawal symptoms that can include anxiety, intense cravings, and physical discomfort.
By suppressing withdrawal symptoms, the individual taking Suboxone can focus on their recovery. Often, Suboxone is taken indefinitely since it is so effective at promoting long-term recovery.
Using medications like Suboxone could help you:
- Reduce your risk of an early death
- Improve your social functioning
- Reduce your risk of criminal activity
- Lower your risk of using other drugs
- Limit your HIV and hepatitis exposure risks
Treatment for Suboxone Misuse
The majority of people who misuse Suboxone do so to treat an underlying opioid use disorder (OUD). If you’ve been buying Suboxone from dealers and injecting it, there is a better and much safer way.
Talk to your doctor about your opioid misuse history, and ask about entering a treatment program or using Suboxone.
If you have a Suboxone prescription and you’ve misused it, talk to your doctor. You may need a stronger dose of medications to keep your addiction under control, or you may need a different recovery setting. The more open and honest you can be with your provider, the more likely you are to safely and appropriately use your medications to get the desired results and maintain abstinence long term.
- Buprenorphine: Potential for Abuse. National Drug Intelligence Center. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs10/10123/10123p.pdf. September 2004. Accessed November 2022.
- A Retrospective Evaluation of Patients Switched from Buprenorphine (Subutex) to the Buprenorphine/Naloxone Combination (Suboxone). Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2453114/. June 2008. Accessed November 2022.
- Buprenorphine and Buprenorphine/Naloxone Diversion, Misuse, and Illicit Use: An International Review. Current Drug Abuse Reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154701/. March 2011. Accessed November 2022.
- The Relative Risk of Fatal Poisoning by Methadone or Buprenorphine Within the Wider Population of England and Wales. BMJ. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/5/e007629. May 2015. 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.
- Buprenorphine: An Overview for Clinicians. California Health Care Foundation. https://www.chcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/BuprenorphineOverviewClinicians.pdf. August 2019. Accessed November 2022.
Medically Reviewed By: Elena Hill, MD, MPH
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