Smoking Suboxone | What Happens If You Smoke Suboxone?

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on January 21, 2023

When a person smokes the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone (Suboxone), the side effects of the drug may happen more quickly. Smoking Suboxone can also lead to serious side effects such as lung damage as well as increase the risk of overdose.

Those who participate in drug abuse by smoking the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone (brand name Suboxone) may experience a number of side effects from this prescription medication. 

In fact, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Suboxone is a Schedule III controlled substance with potential for abuse.

To smoke Suboxone, the gel substance from the sublingual film must be removed and those with a Suboxone tablet will need to crush the pill.

The drug must first be in the form of a powder or gel, then the substance can be heated and the vapors inhaled. Once smoked, the drug enters the bloodstream more quickly than when taken by mouth.

Suboxone Abuse

Suboxone treatment is a form of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Suboxone contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that blocks opioid receptors and naloxone, an opioid antagonist.

The drug affects the central nervous system (CNS), and although it’s useful for treating opioid addiction, Suboxone can be abused by using it in a manner not prescribed. This includes smoking, snorting, plugging, or injecting the drug. 

Suboxone abuse can lead to a number of side effects which can become life-threatening. Speak with your primary care physician before taking Suboxone if you have a history of drug abuse or addiction.

Effects Of Smoking Suboxone

If a person smokes Suboxone, they may experience effects more quickly. However, since buprenorphine is part of Suboxone, the “ceiling effect” is in place, meaning Suboxone’s ability to produce a stronger or greater high is limited.

Suboxone, like any medication, may still create various side effects ranging in severity. Those smoking Suboxone may experience the common side effects of Suboxone as well as more severe effects.

Common Side Effects Of Suboxone

According to SAMHSA, common side effects of opioid use may consist of:

  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • loss of appetite
  • drowsiness
  • sedation
  • constipation
  • headache
  • back pain

Adverse Effects Of Smoking Suboxone

In addition to these side effects, those smoking Suboxone may experience more serious side effects including:

  • damage to lung health
  • consistent sore throat
  • sinus infections
  • chronic cough
  • sores in the mouth

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states a number of opioid withdrawal symptoms can occur in those who abruptly stop their medication. Those who stop Suboxone unexpectedly may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • muscle aches
  • changes in mood
  • difficulty sleeping
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • runny nose
  • cravings for the drug
  • tremors
  • sweating

Dangers Of Smoking Suboxone

Those with opioid addiction may turn to Suboxone abuse by snorting or smoking the drug. Smoking Suboxone as a form of drug use can create a number of dangers that may impact your health and lead to opioid dependence.

Drug Interactions

Speak with your prescribing healthcare provider and notify them of any medications you currently take. Some of the drugs to avoid include:

  • illicit drugs
  • benzodiazepines
  • over-the-counter painkillers
  • Subutex (buprenorphine without naloxone)
  • alcohol
  • antihistamines
  • supplements
  • muscle relaxants

In addition to these substances, other opioid medications such as methadone, naltrexone, fentanyl, and oxycodone should not be combined with Suboxone.

Suboxone Overdose

Suboxone overdoses are rare because of the ceiling effect. An overdose can still take place which may include certain symptoms such as:

  • pinpoint pupils
  • fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure
  • slurred speech
  • shallow breathing or respiratory depression
  • pinpoint pupils
  • coma or death

If you suspect an opioid overdose has taken place, contact 911 right away and seek urgent medical attention.

If you or a loved one struggle with prescription opioid abuse, drug addiction treatment programs can help. To learn how we treat substance use disorder on an inpatient basis, including detox, medication-assisted treatment, and more, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. International Journal of Drug Policy — The prevalence and correlates of buprenorphine inhalation amongst opioid substitution treatment (OST) clients in Australia
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Effect of Naltrexone and Buprenorphine on Smoking in Opioid-Dependent Subjects
  3. The Ochsner Journal — Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — 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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