What Happens If You Inject/Shoot Suboxone?

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By Elena Hill, MD, MPH • Updated Feb 21, 2023

Some individuals may be tempted to misuse Suboxone to get high by injecting it just like they might inject oxycodone, morphine, heroin or fentanyl. However, Suboxone is specifically designed to contain a two drug regimen that prevents it from being injected to get high. This is how it works:

Suboxone is a combination medication that includes buprenorphine and naloxone. It most commonly comes in a film or strip that is meant to dissolve sublingually (under the tongue). When Suboxone is dissolved under the tongue, the naloxone component is not readily absorbed because it has a low bioavailability and sublingual absorption rate compared to buprenorphine.[2] This means that only the buprenorphine is absorbed into the body.

However, if a person attempts to inject or shoot Suboxone, both the buprenorphine and the naloxone enter the bloodstream together and the Naloxone is active. The Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means it binds immediately to all the opioid receptors and prevents the buprenorphine from binding and causing a high. Therefore, it prevents the person from getting high and also from overdosing. Moreover, if you had other opioids in your body, the naloxone will kick all those other opioids out and cause what is called precipitated withdrawal, which can cause you to feel acutely ill with flu-like symptoms. This serves as yet another abuse deterrent. 

Risks of Injecting Suboxone

Injecting any drug, whether it be Suboxone or other opioids, can be very dangerous. The risk of overdose is very high with injecting drugs. In addition, the act of injecting itself puts people at risk for introducing bacteria into the bloodstream, which can be deadly. Using injection drugs also increases the risk of thromboemboli and blood clots. These can then lead to tissue death, ischemia, and in rare occasions, limb amputations [2]

Why Do People Attempt to Inject Suboxone?

While Naloxone does prevent individuals from getting a high off of injecting Suboxone, many individuals may not understand the pharmacodynamics and may attempt to inject Suboxone anyway [4] 

Most people who inject their Suboxone prescriptions aren’t doing so in order to get high. Most of the time, they are simply trying to address uncontrolled cravings.

If you’re tempted to misuse your Suboxone by injecting it, this probably means that your cravings are not being controlled with your current dosing. Instead of attempting to inject, which will not work, talk to your doctor about increasing your oral dose. This is a safer and more effective way to address cravings.

If someone you know is misusing Suboxone, talk before assuming. Many people who misuse Suboxone are trying to get or stay sober and are simply trying to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings.[5] With your help, this person could get critical addiction help and stay sober for good.

Talk to your doctor if you or someone you know is injecting Suboxone.


  1. Buprenorphine: Potential for Abuse. U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs10/10123/10123p.pdf. September 2004. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Complications Relating to Intravenous Buprenorphine Abuse: A Single Institution Case Series. Annals Academy of Medicine. https://annals.edu.sg/pdf/35VolNo7200608/V35N7p487.pdf. July 2006. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. 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/. August 2011. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Reconsidering the Usefulness of Adding Naloxone to Buprenorphine. Frontiers in Psychiatry. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.549272/full. September 2020. Accessed June 2022. 
  1. Buprenorphine in the United States: Motives for Abuse, Misuse, and Diversion. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740547218304720. September 2019. Accessed June 2022. 

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

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