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Suboxone and Alcohol - Dangers of Mixing

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Mixing alcohol and Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid dependence and addiction, is very dangerous. If you are taking Suboxone in order to end your abuse of opioid drugs, you should not drink while you do so. Even if you are currently a heavy drinker or a social drinker, mixing Suboxone and alcohol can be a lethal combination.

Suboxone and Alcohol
suboxone side effectsMixing Suboxone with alcohol is very dangerous.

According to the FDA, doctors must "warn patients that it is extremely dangerous to self-administer non-prescribed benzodiazepines or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants (including alcohol) with Suboxone."

Suboxone contains both a partial opioid agonist (buprenorphine) and an opioid antagonist (naloxone).

These two drugs when prescribed as Suboxone can cause many of the same effects that opioids can, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurry Vision
  • Fainting
  • Intoxication (Feeling Lightheaded or Drunk)
  • Heart Palpitations

When you mix alcohol with the Suboxone that you are already taking, you up the risk of these side effects becoming more intense. For example, alcohol can cause many of the side effects listed above and, in addition to these being caused by Suboxone, you might experience twice the problem. But this is not even close to the most dangerous effect of Suboxone and alcohol mixing.

Respiratory Depression
As stated by the FDA, "Abuse of buprenorphine [the active ingredient in Suboxone] poses a risk of overdose and death. This risk is increased with the concomitant use of buprenorphine and alcohol and other substances." Even if you are taking Suboxone the way it was prescribed to you, there is still a chance that you might experience some level of respiratory depression. This can be unsafe depending on how much of the drug you take and your situation.

The NLM states that "alcohol can add to the breathing difficulties that can be caused by this medication." It will be even more likely that you will experience life-threatening breathing problems if you drink while taking Suboxone. And especially if you are abusing Suboxone, there is an even stronger possibility that you could stop breathing altogether.

Drinking alcohol while taking Suboxone brings out the respiratory depression effects of both drugs and can end in a person dying from a lack of oxygen. You must remember this when you are taking Subxone as a medication to treat opioid dependence.
Other Risk Factors

Suboxone users should not drink alcohol while they take their medications for multiple reasons. Some of the other important factors to consider are:

  • Opioid abusers and addicts often abuse alcohol with opioids. If someone trying to work through their opioid addiction starts to drink again, it could possibly trigger strong cravings for opioids.
  • Suboxone and alcohol together can also make a person extremely sleepy. If you fall unconscious as a result of mixing Suboxone and alcohol, you might not realize if your breathing becomes shallow or stops altogether. Many people die from this kind of respiratory depression because they are alone and do not realize that they have stopped breathing.
  • Drinking alcohol along with Suboxone may cause you to abuse your Suboxone or to engage in risky behavior as a result of impaired judgement.

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