In this article, I’m going to educate you on the subject of mixing Suboxone and alcohol. Taking Suboxone and alcohol together is not good for your health. Additionally, this combination can even have serious negative consequences, including overdose and death.
My goal with this post is to inform you on what the combination of alcohol and Suboxone does in your body, and why this mixture is not recommended by doctors, addiction therapists, nor me.
I too was on Suboxone many years ago, and for me, Suboxone completely repelled me from alcohol. Just the thought of drinking alcohol while on Suboxone made me a bit nauseous.
COFFEE, on the other hand, was way more desirable while I was on Suboxone. The combination of Suboxone and coffee first thing in the morning gave me so much ENERGY and motivation that I crushed it at my job cooking at a restaurant, and I even enjoyed it, when normally I hated that job.
Thank God for Suboxone!
Anyways, my point here is this:
Most beverages are fine on Suboxone. However, alcohol is not one of them.
Why is it a bad idea to mix Suboxone and alcohol?
Let’s talk about this…shall we?
Table of Contents
Suboxone and Alcohol – Suboxone Overview
Suboxone is a brand name medication consisting of two drugs – buprenorphine, and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a controlled substance and semisynthetic opioid derivative of thebaine.
Buprenorphine attaches and binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body that drugs like heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and other opioids bind to. Once it attaches to these receptors, it mimics the effects that opioid drugs produce (though it’s not as powerful).
For this reason, buprenorphine is known as a “partial opioid agonist.”
The other opiate drugs I just mentioned are known as “full opioid agonists,” because they activate the receptors in a stronger and more complete way than buprenorphine. See the illustration below.
Naloxone is the other compound present in Suboxone. Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist. It’s the drug given to people that overdose because an injection of naloxone puts the opioid-user into instant withdrawal, thus saving them from health issues and death.
Naloxone was put into the Suboxone formulation to deter people from injecting it, which would lead to precipitated withdrawal. Taken orally, naloxone isn’t bioavailable. A common misconception is that naloxone blocks the opiates.
This is false.
The truth is that buprenorphine binds so strongly to the opioid receptors that it’s actually the buprenorphine which blocks opioids.
Suboxone and Alcohol – Dangers of Mixing the Two
Suboxone and alcohol may seem like a harmless combination at first thought. However, Suboxone is more powerful than most people think. Since Suboxone contains buprenorphine, Suboxone is not recommended with alcohol.
Here is a bullet-point breakdown of the problem with this mixture:
- For starters, both drugs are central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
- Suboxone’s main ingredient, buprenorphine, is a partial opioid agonist.
- Alone, both Suboxone and alcohol have the ability to cause significant respiratory depression. Used together, this combination results in synergy.
- Suboxone/alcohol synergy is when the combined effect is greater than the sum of the effects of these two CNS depressants.
When you combine two CNS depressants, in this case, Suboxone and alcohol, this significantly increases the chances of respiratory depression and can ultimately lead to death from your body not breathing anymore.
Suboxone and Alcohol – Importance of Hydration
Obviously, if you have a tolerance to Suboxone and you only drink a beer, glass of wine, or a shot of liquor, you’re probably not at risk of dying. However, alcohol is extremely dehydrating, and it depletes your body of B-vitamins and many other essential nutrients as well.
When you’re taking Suboxone, you want to do everything in your power to stay healthy and decrease the possibility of side effects and/or bad and potentially dangerous interactions. And along with avoiding all of the Suboxone contraindications (such as alcohol), you also want to focus on eating and drinking healthy foods and beverages.
In fact, if you’re not already drinking at least 4-5 liters of water a day, that’s your first step to getting healthier right there.
Staying hydrated is absolutely essential for physical and psychological health.
Did you know that dehydration can cause severe anxiety? I can’t tell you how many people would cure their anxiety disorders simply by drinking 4-6 liters of water a day.
But most people don’t realize how much water we humans need on a daily basis for optimal health and wellness.
Suboxone and Alcohol – Key Concepts
Now that you’ve been educated on the potential negative health consequences of mixing Suboxone and alcohol, I hope you’ll stay away from alcohol while you’re on this medication.
You only have one body, so treat it well.
The following key concepts will help you stay healthy on Suboxone:
- Avoid the combination of Suboxone and alcohol.
- Avoid all other CNS depressants while taking Suboxone.
- Drink at least 4-5 liters of water a day or more.
- If you drink soda, cut that out too or at least limit it to no more than 1-2 sodas a week.
- Focus on eating primarily organic whole foods, and eliminate or limit processed and refined foods.
- Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep or more per night on a regular basis.
- Exercise at least 3-4 days a week or more, using a combination of cardio, strength-training, and stretching.
As a former substance abuse counselor at an Opiate Treatment Program (OTP) and a current Opiate Recovery Coach, I’ve always been outspoken about the potential dangers of mixing Suboxone or other opioids with other CNS depressants.
The synergy is real, and thus it’s really not worth the risk.
If you have any comments or questions about the topic of mixing Suboxone and alcohol, please post them in the comment box below. Be safe, and take care of yourself.