Can You Prepare Suboxone For Injection?

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on January 21, 2023

The brand name medication Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is formulated so that it cannot be effectively abused by injection. Attempting to do so will activate the naloxone portion of the drug, which will block the buprenorphine and all other opiates/opioids present in the body, potentially triggering precipitated opioid withdrawal symptoms.

No. Injecting or shooting Suboxone will not produce pleasurable or euphoric effects because of the medication’s unique pharmacology, method of administration, and the inclusion of the opioid antagonist naloxone, a drug also used in the opioid overdose medication Narcan.

Suboxone is a brand-name prescription medication approved for the treatment of opioid dependence and opioid use disorder. It is commonly used in medication-assisted treatment programs (MAT) and can be provided either in an addiction treatment center or an outpatient healthcare office.

The drug takes two forms, both of which should be held under the tongue until they dissolve and are absorbed:

  • an orange sublingual film or strip
  • a hexagonal orange uncoated sublingual tablet

Why Suboxone Can’t Be Abused By Injection

When a person takes Suboxone correctly, they will absorb buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, through the tissue under the tongue. The naloxone portion of the drug, on the other hand, has a comparatively low bioavailability and absorption rate when taken in this way. 

This means that the buprenorphine (Suboxone’s active ingredient) will be absorbed while the naloxone will be left behind.

However, if Suboxone is taken in other ways, and especially through injection, the naloxone will immediately take effect.

Acting as an opioid receptor antagonist, the naloxone will enter the bloodstream and strip away opioid molecules from the body’s opioid receptors, blocking those receptors off for a period of time. This will prevent the buprenorphine from having any effect, and will also end and block the effects of other opioid drugs.

This can lead to a sudden and intense onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms in individuals who are opioid dependent and currently have some level of ongoing opioid activity.

Injectable Options For Buprenorphine

While medications that combine buprenorphine with naloxone are designed to prevent injection drug abuse, there are other formulations that are specifically intended to deliver this medication through injection.

This includes the brand-name medication Sublocade (extended-release buprenorphine), and certain other buprenorphine injections used by healthcare providers to treat moderate to severe pain.

Effects Of Injecting Suboxone

Any form of non-medical intravenous drug use is potentially hazardous. The act of inserting an improperly sterilized needle can introduce dangerous viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other contaminants into the body. 

This may lead to the development of abscesses, injection site scarring, hepatitis c infection, heart valve inflammation, needle fixation, and other severe medical complications.

This aside, shooting Suboxone may trigger a variety of different effects related to opioid withdrawal that may include:

  • the sudden cessation of analgesia (pain relief) or euphoria (pleasure) from opioid drugs
  • abdominal cramping
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • blood pressure changes
  • dehydration
  • depression
  • drug cravings
  • diarrhea
  • dilated pupils
  • excessive yawning
  • fever
  • goosebumps
  • insomnia
  • mood swings
  • nausea and vomiting
  • runny nose
  • sweating
  • tearing of the eyes

Shooting Subutex

Subutex is another brand name medication and sublingual pill used to treat opioid addiction/dependence. 

However, unlike Suboxone, Subutex is made with only buprenorphine, not naloxone. This means that Subutex (a white tablet) could be dissolved and injected to generate some degree of euphoric effect.

In fact, the potential for misuse of buprenorphine treatments directly contributed to the development of Suboxone and its tamper resistant buprenorphine-naloxone formula.

Effects Of Shooting Subutex

Even if Subutex is misused, buprenorphine, a partial agonist of opioid receptors, will not generate the same level of euphoria as true opioids. In fact, it will likely blunt the euphoric effects of other opioids if the drugs are taken together. 

It also possesses a natural ceiling effect, in which the euphoric effects of the drug top out comparatively quickly and do not increase even if high doses of buprenorphine are then taken.

Side Effects Of Buprenorphine Use

The most common side effects associated with the use of buprenorphine may include:

  • concentration issues
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness and fatigue
  • dry mouth
  • fever
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • muscle aches and cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • palpitations
  • sweating
  • tooth decay
  • tremors
  • vision or eye changes

These side-effects will generally resolve as your body adapts to the medication. However, buprenorphine is also habit forming and physical dependence can develop with prolonged use.

In addition, while buprenorphine is a well-regarded treatment for substance use disorder and dependence and is generally considered to be superior to methadone, there are serious risks that you should discuss with your prescribing physician.

This includes the risk of drug interactions and respiratory depression, reduced fertility, and sleep-related breathing issues.

For information on our addiction treatment options, including detox and medication-assisted treatment, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — SUBOXONE (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual tablets for sublingual administration CIII
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — What is Buprenorphine?

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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