Can You Relapse While On Suboxone?

Can You Relapse While On Suboxone?Suboxone is a medication created by combining the drugs Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine is a semisynthetic opioid medication used to treat opiate addiction  and moderate-to-acute pain, while Naloxone is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, and is often administered when a user experiences an overdose. When combined to create Suboxone, these medications have the dual effect of being able to significantly reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms and to block the effects of other opiates.

So, if Suboxone contains the powerful opiate blocker Naloxone as a main ingredient, can a patient still relapse while taking it? Let’s find out.

Research Demonstrates That Patients May Still Experience a Limited High on Suboxone

Studies show that while many of the effects are blocked, some patients still experience a small ‘high’ when concurrently taking Suboxone and other opiates, like Vicodin or OxyContin. However, if a patient abuses other opiates while on Suboxone and feels no ‘high,’ have they actually relapsed? Or is the Suboxone just doing it’s job?

Professionals have varying views on the matter, but many would say that the patient has relapsed, regardless of what they feel. Addiction is both physical and psychological process, so if a patient has decided to take drugs again, that intentional decision to use– regardless of the physical experience of the patient, means that they have relapsed.

In addition, if a patient has relapsed on a street drug like heroin (even if they do not get high due to the Suboxone) they also can experience serious health problems from impurities in the drugs or blood-borne diseases that result from sharing an infected needle. Therefore, while patients on suboxone may not be able to get significantly high or overdose on opiates while on the medication,  it’s still essential that they remain drug free.

Who is Most Likely to Relapse On Suboxone?

Now that we’ve determined that people on Suboxone can relapse by taking other opiates, let’s see who may be most vulnerable.

Research shows that the groups with greatest risk for opiate relapse on Suboxone include:

  • Individuals on a high dose of Suboxone (this may simply be because these patients are addicted to opiates with a higher degree of severity)
  • Individuals using or abusing alcohol and benzodiazepines
  • Individuals suffering from concurrent or coexisting mental health disorders

Suboxone Treatment vs. Methadone for Relapse Prevention: What’s the Difference?

Methadone, the most commonly prescribed drug for serious opiate addiction, has been used for decades to help people kick their addictions to drugs like Heroin. Suboxone, in comparison, was first approved in 2002– meaning that Suboxone is newer– but is it better? That depends.

Suboxone is considered less addictive than Methadone, but it may be less effective at treating opiate withdrawal effects. Both Methadone and Suboxone are addictive and can be abused– even if they both have significant potential to help many patients. In the end, while these medications may help some people temporarily, the healthiest choice is to live a lifestyle free from alcohol and drugs.

Find a Drug Addiction Treatment Center That Specializes in Opiate Addiction and Relapse Prevention

If you or a loved one is addicted to opiates, it’s essential for them to get professional drug addiction treatment as quickly as possible– especially if they’ve relapsed while on Suboxone or Methadone. Opiate addiction is one of the hardest addictions to break– and with around 30 million opiate addiction sufferers worldwide, it’s a serious and growing problem.

While you may not be able to fix the opiate epidemic on your own, you can fix yourself by taking the right steps to get the help you need–and encouraging your friends and family members to get help if they need it, too.

At Get Treatment, we can help you find a professional and accredited drug rehab center that provides caring treatment at every stage of the addiction rehabilitation process. Whether you need detox, inpatient treatment or a partial hospitalization program, Get Treatment’s trusted network of addiction rehab facilities have got you covered.

Also, if you live in Alabama, we’ve recently updated our directory of Alabama Addiction Treatment Centers to give you as many great options as possible.  

To learn more, call 855-638-9268 today to speak to one of our dedicated admissions specialists.


Erica Loret de Mola

Erica Loret de Mola is a communications major who has been writing about addiction treatment for approximately three years. As content manager and editor in chief of Get Treatment, she strives to provide the most accurate and current information available to our clients.


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