Can You Overdose on Suboxone

can you overdose on suboxone

When you or a loved one is dealing with substance or alcohol abuse, it’s only natural to look for solutions in any way possible. Unfortunately, that process can also lead to issues when working with sometimes highly delicate medications like Suboxone. 

Patients who take Suboxone to overcome their alcohol or opioid dependence need to understand the risks that this medication can bring with it. As well as how to spot potential symptoms of Suboxone overdose.

A Brief Overview of Suboxone

Suboxone is one of the major medications used to help patients overcome their opioid addiction. It works by interacting with the same brain receptors as the opioids it’s designed to treat, resulting both in less intoxicating effects of the drug and lower cravings. Medical studies have found it to be one of the most effective ways of treating physical addiction. 

Suboxone is a combination of two core ingredients:

  • Buprenorphine is a so-called “partial agonist” that produces euphoria at a weaker level than the substance to which the patient is addicted while also reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  •  Naloxone is a so-called “opioid antagonist” that reverses and blocks the effects of other opioids and can even restore normal breathing if a patient’s breathing has stopped due to an overdose.

The combination of these two medications creates a balance that blocks the actual harmful substance and reduces opioid withdrawal symptoms that would otherwise result from blocking it. This combination has made Suboxone one of the most commonly used treatments during the opioid epidemic. It’s typically prescribed as a pill or a dissolvable strip to be placed under the patient’s tongue.

While the substance is typically used to treat opioid use disorder, there is a potential for users to become addicted to Suboxone. Abusing Suboxone is not uncommon, especially for people who may have a history of abusing prescription opioids.

Suboxone and Drug Interactions

While most medical experts agree that Suboxone can be life-saving for patients struggling with substance and opioid abuse, a simple truth remains. As with any other medication, Suboxone can interact with other drugs to produce potentially harmful effects.

Some of the drugs most commonly interacting with Suboxone include Antidepressants, alcohol, and the most common treatments for epilepsy. In addition, many hormone-based contraceptives and depressants designed to improve sleep and reduce anxiety (like Xanax) can also produce harmful effects when used simultaneously with Suboxone. In some cases mixing these substances can lead to an overdose. 

Combining Suboxone with these drugs can be immensely harmful, potentially leading to hospitalization. Generally speaking, Suboxone can also increase the effects of other drugs, making overdose more likely in patients looking to reproduce the intoxicating effects of harmful substances. 

Symptoms of Suboxone Overdose

Recognizing the symptoms of a Suboxone overdose is vital. Failure to get help can lead to the patients passing out and becoming unresponsive due to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. Eventually, without treatment, a patient overdosing on Suboxone can stop breathing and even die. 

The early symptoms of a Suboxone overdose include:

  • Bodily signs like pinprick pupils, blue-tinged lips, and abdominal pain
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Extreme fatigue and sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Struggles with concentration and memory
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Confusion and dizziness, including a loss of physical coordination, slurred speech, and “appearing drunk.”

If you or a loved one recognizes these symptoms, it’s time to get help as soon as possible. Every minute counts to help the patient get help and prevent more severe consequences like coma or even death.

What to Do When You Overdose on Suboxone

When spotting the signs of a Suboxone overdose, immediate medical attention is vital. In many cases, it’s the only way to ensure that the patient in question will survive the overdose. That means calling 911, as emergency medical responders have medication available to reduce the immediate and worst symptoms of the overdose. 

Beyond this immediate action, medical professionals can take a few essential steps when helping patients to manage a Suboxone overdose:

  • They might administer naloxone, an ingredient in Suboxone that can temporarily stop the effects of the overdose. However, it has to be administered in isolation and not in combination with the other core ingredient Buprenorphine, and its positive effects are only temporary.
  • They might administer a mixture of activated charcoal and laxatives, which can both absorb and expel the toxins responsible for the overdose symptoms. Intravenous fluids are also common to fight against common dehydration.
  • They might recommend or even lead a process of detoxing, keeping the patient under a careful eye while at the same time providing therapy and support from family and friends as the patient gets the Suboxone out of their system.

This process will typically take multiple weeks and can be difficult for the patient and their loved ones. Since it is possible to get addicted to Suboxone, most medical professionals will not recommend returning to the drug. They will insist on long-term rehabilitation and therapy that can reduce the addiction in more natural and less harmful ways.

How to Prevent a Suboxone Overdose

Suboxone is a crucial drug in the fight against substance abuse, but when not careful, it can become a severe problem in its own right. That’s what makes it vital to work with medical professionals when administering any type of drug designed to assist with addiction recovery, including Suboxone.

Incorrect use of Suboxone can be just as dangerous as the addiction it’s designed to solve. Closely following the advice and guidance of qualified medical professionals is the only way to keep its use safe. Professionals can also help the patient on the long road to recovery. 

Of course, you need to be able to trust the professionals with whom you’re looking to work. They need to have your best interests in mind, extensive background, and expertise in the types of detox and therapy they recommend fighting alcohol and drug abuse. A team of well-trained treatment professionals should manage Suboxone treatment.

The addiction treatment specialists at Bellagio in the Desert have helped countless patients fight their substance abuse. We use a wide variety of evidence-based treatments – from short-term detox to medication assisted treatment and long-term rehabilitation. To learn more about our services or Suboxone information, call (888)506-2691.


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