Suboxone is a prescription medication used in the treatment of opioid use disorder. It contains the drug buprenorphine, which binds to the same receptors as opioid drugs and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It also contains naloxone, which discourages buprenorphine misuse by sending patients into withdrawal if they use Suboxone for unintended purposes.
When you’re using a medication like Suboxone, it is important to be aware of safety risks, including ways that this drug may interact with other substances you are using. One important interaction effect to know if you’re in opioid addiction treatment is that between Suboxone and alcohol.
When To Take Suboxone
Before jumping into the potential dangers of mixing Suboxone with alcohol, it’s helpful to understand when to take this medication. Suboxone is effective for treating opioid withdrawal and cravings, but if you take it when you have other opiods in your system, it will quickly send you into an uncomfortable state of withdrawal. You should begin to take Suboxone when you have already entered withdrawal, and a Suboxone doctor can help you determine the best time to start taking the medication.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Suboxone?
Patients often wonder if drinking while on Suboxone is safe. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using Suboxone and alcohol together, as the two substances can interact. If you’re taking Suboxone, you should avoid consuming alcohol, and always discuss your use of alcohol or other substances with your doctor.
How Long After Taking Suboxone Can I Drink?
Suboxone and alcohol should not be used together, but some people may think drinking on Suboxone is safe if they drink long enough after taking their medication. This is a misconception.
Buprenorphine, the main ingredient in Suboxone, has a half-life of 28 to 37 hours, meaning it stays in the body for quite some time. Even if you wait several hours after taking Suboxone, buprenorphine will still be in your system. This means you could experience a Suboxone and alcohol interaction effect.
If you’re taking Suboxone, you should not consume alcohol unless you have tapered off of the medication and discussed your alcohol consumption with your medical provider. Waiting until later in the day to drink does not reduce the risks associated with using Suboxone and alcohol together.
What Are The Possible Effects Of Mixing Suboxone And Alcohol?
If you use Suboxone and alcohol together, you can experience dangerous interaction effects. Both substances have a depressant effect on the central nervous system, and when taken together, this effect is stronger.
Since both substances are central nervous system depressants, drinking on Suboxone can lead to respiratory distress. In some cases, the interaction between Suboxone and alcohol can lead to coma and even death.
Another consideration when mixing Suboxone with alcohol is the fact that about one-third of people taking drugs like Suboxone for opioid addiction experience problems with alcohol. If you begin drinking while on Suboxone, you are at risk of replacing opioid misuse with alcohol misuse.
Finally, Suboxone is metabolized mostly in the liver, much like alcohol. Mixing Suboxone and alcohol places additional stress on the liver, especially if you drink in large quantities. Patients who already have liver problems are at a higher risk of a negative Suboxone and alcohol interaction.