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Can Buprenorphine/Suboxone Get You High?

Buprenorphine/Suboxone is widely known for its role in the treatment of opioid addiction. However, there’s often a question among patients: can buprenorphine get you high? This article will delve into the details of this critical medication.

The short answer?
Buprenorphine/Suboxone may create a slight feeling of euphoria in people new to opioids, but this effect is considerably decreased in those who are already used to opioids.

What Is Buprenorphine/Suboxone?

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that can alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction. Suboxone, on the other hand, is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine and Suboxone: Key Players in Opioid Addiction Treatment

Injected Buprenorphine

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have approved these medications as safe and effective for treating opioid use disorder. They are often seen as safer alternatives to other prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone, making them highly preferred in medical settings.

How Does Buprenorphine/Suboxone Work?

These medications are designed to interact with the opioid receptors in the brain.

Interaction with Opioid Receptors

Buprenorphine/Suboxone works on the same opioid receptors as other opioids like heroin, morphine, and prescription painkillers. As a partial agonist, buprenorphine partially activates these receptors, offering some relief without the high associated with full opioid agonists.

Withdrawal Symptoms

This characteristic of buprenorphine is known as the “ceiling effect.” It can mitigate withdrawal symptoms in patients addicted to opioids while significantly reducing the risk of overdose.

Suboxone combines the effects of buprenorphine with naloxone, an opioid antagonist. If taken as prescribed, naloxone remains inactive. However, if abused (like injecting or snorting), it can precipitate withdrawal symptoms, thereby discouraging misuse.

Does Buprenorphine Get You High?

Buprenorphine administration

One of the most frequently asked questions about buprenorphine/Suboxone pertains to its potential for causing a euphoric sensation, or a “high.” The answer, however, is complex and depends largely on the individual’s level of tolerance to opioids.

Effects on Opioid-Naïve Individuals

Opioid-naïve individuals are those who haven’t built a tolerance to opioids because they haven’t been exposed to these substances in the past or have been abstinent for a prolonged period.

Mild Euphoria and Risks

For these individuals, buprenorphine may produce a sensation of mild euphoria similar to that experienced with other opioids. This is because buprenorphine, being a partial agonist, has the ability to activate the brain’s opioid receptors, albeit to a lesser extent than full agonists. However, using buprenorphine without a prescription or doctor’s supervision can lead to a range of negative health consequences, such as respiratory depression or the development of an opioid use disorder.

Effects on Opioid-Tolerant Individuals

On the other hand, in individuals who have developed a tolerance to opioids, buprenorphine typically does not produce a high.

The Ceiling Effect

This can be attributed to the unique pharmacology of buprenorphine, which has a so-called “ceiling effect.” Beyond a certain dose, buprenorphine’s effects plateau. This means that, unlike full agonist opioids, taking more buprenorphine does not result in a stronger high. Instead, it decreases the risk of opioid overdose and respiratory depression that can occur with full opioid agonists such as heroin, methadone, or fentanyl.

Understanding Suboxone’s Role

Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, also plays a key role in this discussion.

Naloxone – An Opioid Antagonist

Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is added to discourage misuse of the medication. When Suboxone is taken as prescribed (usually sublingually), the naloxone component has a minimal effect because it isn’t well absorbed through this route. However, if the medication is misused (for instance, if it’s crushed and snorted or injected), the naloxone component becomes active, precipitating withdrawal symptoms and countering the effects of buprenorphine and other opioids.

Overall, while there is some potential for buprenorphine and Suboxone to cause mild euphoria, particularly in opioid-naïve individuals, their design and mode of action significantly reduce this risk compared to other opioids. It’s important to note that the misuse of these medications can lead to severe health consequences and is strongly discouraged.

The Dangers of Misusing Buprenorphine/Suboxone

Some people abuse Suboxone in ways similar to other legal and illicit opioids

The non-medical use of buprenorphine, often referred to as buprenorphine diversion, can lead to severe health risks.

Risks of Buprenorphine/Suboxone Drug Abuse

  • Addiction: Just like other prescription opioids, misuse of buprenorphine products can lead to addiction.
  • Health Risks: Abusing Suboxone, especially in combination with other substances like alcohol or illicit drugs, can result in life-threatening conditions, including respiratory depression, coma, or even death.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: People who misuse or inject buprenorphine can quickly develop a dependence. When trying to stop using these drugs, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment Options for Buprenorphine/Suboxone Misuse

Treatment centers are crucial resources in the journey to overcome misuse and addiction to buprenorphine and Suboxone. These facilities provide comprehensive, patient-centric programs specifically designed to address substance abuse issues.

Multifaceted Approach of Treatment Centers

A typical treatment program at these centers involves multiple elements for a holistic approach:

  1. Detoxification: The first step often involves medically supervised detoxification, closely monitored by healthcare professionals to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Many treatment centers use medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This is often combined with other forms of treatment.
  3. Counseling and Therapy: Therapy plays a significant role in recovery, helping individuals understand the root causes of their addiction, cope with cravings, and develop healthier behaviors and habits.
  4. Group Support: Many treatment programs include group sessions, where individuals can share their experiences and draw strength from others facing similar struggles.
  5. Case management: It entails assisting individuals in obtaining the critical services necessary for leading a sober life and seeking education or employment. Such indispensable services may encompass medical attention for enduring or latent health issues, as well as social assistance for financial or housing support.
  6. Aftercare and Follow-up Services: After the initial treatment, ongoing support is provided to help individuals maintain recovery, prevent relapse, and continue leading healthy lives.

Health Insurance and Addiction Treatment

Navigating health insurance when seeking addiction treatment can be overwhelming. Most health insurance providers cover substance use disorder services, including outpatient treatment. However, the specifics of what is covered can vary based on your individual policy.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Check Your Coverage: Reach out to your insurance provider to understand what addiction treatment services are covered under your plan.
  • Understand Out-of-Pocket Costs: Even with insurance, there may be out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays or deductibles. Understand these costs upfront to avoid surprises.
  • In-Network vs. Out-of-Network: Treatment centers that are in-network with your insurance company will typically be less expensive than out-of-network providers.
  • Explore Public Insurance Options: If you do not have private insurance, look into public insurance options like Medicaid or Medicare, which often cover substance use disorder treatment.

Whether you’re dealing with buprenorphine/Suboxone misuse yourself or supporting a loved one through their journey, understanding your treatment options and insurance coverage can play a critical role in the path to recovery.


While buprenorphine/Suboxone can be lifesaving when used correctly, misuse can lead to severe health complications, including addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, reach out to a healthcare professional or local treatment center. Your health and well-being are worth the effort it takes to use these prescription medications responsibly.

Seek Help at Anchor Addiction and Wellness Center

Anchor Addiction and Wellness Center facade

Drug addiction has serious effects on your physical and mental health. It can disrupt healthy relationships and hinder you from reaching your personal or professional goals. Even if you’re ready to stop using, recovery from addiction can be challenging to handle alone.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, reach out to Anchor Addiction and Wellness Center. Our comprehensive outpatient treatment center in Ohio offers a supportive and welcoming environment for anyone battling opioid addiction. Schedule a free consultation today and take that step towards a healthier, substance-free life. Your health and well-being are worth the effort it takes to use these medications responsibly.

Anchor Addiction and Wellness Center
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Chillicothe, OH 45601

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