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Does Suboxone Get You High?

Suboxone will not get you high if taken as prescribed. Even if you attempt to misuse the medication, it has an abuse-deterrent ingredient that will prevent you from getting high.

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Suboxone is a drug prescribed to treat opioid addiction on an outpatient basis. It is made up of two ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone.[1]

Though buprenorphine is an opioid and technically can get users high, it is a different type of opioid than drugs like heroin or morphine and not as strong in its effect. This makes it unlikely to cause much of a high in most people who are accustomed to using stronger drugs.[2]

Naloxone is a medication that blocks the euphoric effect of opioids, even the potential euphoria that buprenorphine may cause in users.[3] Because of this, Suboxone will not cause a high in those taking the medication to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).

Why Doesn’t Suboxone Cause a High?

It is very unlikely for someone to get high by using Suboxone as prescribed. In fact, even those who try to circumvent the time-release aspect of Suboxone by crushing and either snorting or injecting the medication will find it hard to experience a high as a result. 

This is primarily due to buprenorphine’s ceiling effect and the presence of naloxone in the medication.

Buprenorphine’s Ceiling Effect

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it has a weak affinity for the opioid receptors. It is incapable of activating these receptors in the same way that stronger opioids do.[4]

This weakness creates a ceiling effect in the drug. After a certain dose, there’s no increase in the high experienced, respiratory depression, or other opioid effects.[5] It doesn’t matter if you take a very high dose of buprenorphine. You won’t experience more intense effects.

This mechanism significantly reduces the potential for misuse or getting high from Suboxone, especially when taken correctly under medical supervision.

Naloxone’s Presence

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that is an intrinsic part of the Suboxone formulation. It is included due to its ability to counteract the effects of opioids.[3]

It is inactive when Suboxone is taken sublingually as directed, but if a user were to attempt to inject the drug, the naloxone would block the effects of the buprenorphine and cause precipitated withdrawal. This is an intense push into opioid withdrawal that involves strong and uncomfortable symptoms.[6]

Often, just knowing that the medication comes with the risk of precipitated withdrawal is enough to stop people from attempting to abuse it, especially those who would try to inject the drug.[7]

In What Situations Could Suboxone Get Someone High?

Though it is highly unlikely, there are a few situations in which someone may experience a high when taking Suboxone. These are some of them:[8-10]

No History of Opioid Use or Abuse

People with no history of opioid abuse will not have a tolerance to opioids. For these opioid naïve individuals, buprenorphine may cause a mild euphoria due to its partial agonist activity. 

However, Suboxone is almost always prescribed to people who are living with an active opioid addiction. In these cases, the person usually has a relatively high tolerance for opioids, which means they need a high dose or a strong opioid in order to experience a high. 

Mixing With Other Drugs

Suboxone is not designed to be taken with any illicit substances. Like most medications, its effects may be altered if the user drinks alcohol, smokes marijuana, or takes other drugs like benzodiazepines, stimulants, or other opioids. 

Depending on the substance, it may be the secondary drug that is actually causing the high, but it is still possible to experience that high while on Suboxone. 

If the person takes another opioid, in most cases, it will activate the naloxone in Suboxone, circumventing the high. However, if the user takes a very large amount of an opioid even with Suboxone in their system, it may override the naloxone and cause an overdose. It is unlikely even in this case that it will cause a high.

Take Suboxone as Prescribed

Don’t mix Suboxone with any other illicit substance. Taking the medication in combination with other substances or in any way other than prescribed by a physician could lead to overdose, another type of medical emergency, or death. 

If you feel that Suboxone is not affecting you the way it should or if you believe that you are experiencing side effects, physical issues, or mental health problems due to taking the drug alone or in combination with other substances, reach out to your prescribing physician to ask for help. 

Updated April 2, 2024
  1. Velander JR. Suboxone: Rationale, science, misconceptionsThe Ochsner Journal. 2018;18(1):23-29.
  2. Buprenorphine quick start guide. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed March 19, 2024.
  3. Naloxone. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published September 18, 2023. Accessed March 19, 2024.
  4. Virk MS, Arttamangkul S, Birdsong WT, Williams JT. Buprenorphine is a weak partial agonist that inhibits opioid receptor desensitizationJournal of Neuroscience. 2009;29(22):7341-7348.
  5. Walsh SL, Preston KL, Stitzer ML, Cone EJ, Bigelow GE. Clinical pharmacology of buprenorphine: Ceiling effects at high dosesClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 1994;55(5):569-580.
  6. Walsh SL, Nuzzo PA, Babalonis S, Casselton V, Lofwall MR. Intranasal buprenorphine alone and in combination with naloxone: Abuse liability and reinforcing efficacy in physically dependent opioid abusers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2016;162:190-198.
  7. Bazazi AR, Yokell M, Fu JJ, Rich JD, Zaller ND. Illicit use of buprenorphine/naloxone among injecting and noninjecting opioid usersJournal of Addiction Medicine. 2011;5(3):175-180.
  8. Hale M, Garofoli M, Raffa RB. Benefit-risk analysis of buprenorphine for pain management. Journal of Pain Research. 2021;Volume 14:1359-1369.
  9. Grinspoon P. 5 myths about using Suboxone to treat opiate addiction. Harvard Health Blog. Published March 20, 2018. Accessed March 9, 2024.
  10. Park TW, Larochelle MR, Saitz R, Wang N, Bernson D, Walley AY. Associations between prescribed benzodiazepines, overdose death and buprenorphine discontinuation among people receiving buprenorphine. Addiction. 2020;115(5):924-932.
  11. Häkkinen M, Launiainen T, Vuori E, Ojanperä I. Benzodiazepines and alcohol are associated with cases of fatal buprenorphine poisoning. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2012;68(3):301-309.
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