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What Happens When You Swallow Suboxone?

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what happens when you swallow suboxone

Nothing will happen if you swallow Suboxone. The stomach and small intestine do not absorb buprenorphine well, so you won’t experience euphoric effects or relief from withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone should only betaken as prescribed.

Suboxone is a medication designed to be taken sublingually, or underneath your tongue. Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, is better able to have an effect if it is dissolved this way rather than taken orally (swallowed).

What Happens When You Swallow Suboxone?

When you swallow Suboxone, instead of dissolving it under your tongue, the medication will not work as intended. [1] For a regular Suboxone user, swallowing the medication will not work. It won’t lessen withdrawal symptoms, and it certainly won’t result in a high.

How Suboxone Is Supposed to Be Taken?

Suboxone is designed to be taken sublingually, or underneath the tongue. The medication comes in film strips, which dissolve into the bloodstream when they are taken appropriately. This allows a specific dose of buprenorphine to access the brain and bind to opioid receptors, easing withdrawal symptoms for several hours without creating intoxication or euphoria.

Suboxone typically takes between 15 and 30 minutes to become fully bioavailable(entering the circulatory system so it can produce effects) and active in the brain. Your prescribing physician will tell you how often to take Suboxone, and it is important generally to wait at least one hour between doses.

You should not experience any negative effects from Suboxone, such as feeling sick, fatigued, or sedated. If you do, your buprenorphine dose may be incorrect, either too high or too low. Talk to your doctor to adjust it.

Why Is Suboxone Taken Under the Tongue?

One of the most common and most effective methods for taking buprenorphine is to dissolve a film strip beneath the tongue(sublingually) or in the cheek (buccally).[2]

Years of medical study have shown that buprenorphine formulas are most effective when they are absorbed into the bloodstream rather than broken down in the digestive system and absorbed by the stomach lining or the small intestine.[3] When taken this way, more buprenorphine makes it to the brain, so sublingual or buccal buprenorphine are more effective addiction treatments.

What Happens if You Accidently Swallow Suboxone?

Since Suboxone is designed to work when dissolved under the tongue, swallowing it will not have an effect. The medication will not be as bioavailable, so you will not get most of the benefit.

For people with opioid use disorder, they will experience no effect from swallowing Suboxone. If someone accidentally swallows Suboxone and they do not have a prescription for this Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) because they do not have an opioid tolerance, they may experience some negative side effects from buprenorphine. If this happens, contact your local poison control center for help.[4]

Tips for Taking Suboxone for Opioid Use Disorder

When taken as prescribed, Suboxone has no potential for overdose and effectively treats opioid addiction. It will not cause addiction when used for this purpose. It is an incredibly effective medication when it comes to long-term treatment of opioid use disorder.

Always take Suboxone as prescribed, and do not take this medication if you have not received a prescription for it.

When taking Suboxone, wait at least 10 minutes once the medication has completely dissolved, before eating or drinking anything. Limit or stop drinking alcohol while taking Suboxone and follow your doctor’s instructions to improve your overall health.

FAQs

Will Suboxone work if you swallow it?

Suboxone will not work as intended if you swallow it since it is designed to be taken either under the tongue or in the cheek. Be sure to take medications like Suboxone as prescribed by your doctor.

What happens when you swallow buprenorphine?

If you swallow buprenorphine, a limited amount of the medication may absorb into your bloodstream through your stomach lining, but it won’t bring the desired effects. You will not get high from swallowing buprenorphine.

SOURCES

1.      Emergency department buprenorphine/naloxone(Suboxone): Home dosing information. MyHealth Alberta. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/AfterCareInformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=custom.ab_suboxone_homedosing_ac_adult. March 2021. Accessed December 2021.

2.      Highlights of Prescribing Information. Access FDA. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/020733s024lbl.pdf. 2002. Accessed December 2021.

3.      Buprenorphine / Naloxone Buccal Film (BUNAVAIL)C-III. Pharmacy Benefits Management Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. https://www.pbm.va.gov/PBM/clinicalguidance/abbreviatedreviews/Buprenorphine_NX_Buccal_Film_BUNAVAIL_%20Abbreviated_Review.pdf. September 2014. Accessed December 2021.

4.      Homepage. National Capital Poison Center. https://www.poison.org/. Accessed December2021.

Brian Clear, MD, FASAM — Medical Director

Brian Clear, MD, FASAM, is board certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, and he joined Bicycle Health in early 2020 as Medical Director and President of the Medical Provider Group.

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