The risk of taking a drink while using Suboxone might be greater than you think.
One of the biggest questions people have is, “What happens if you mix Suboxone and alcohol?” Opiates were most likely the types of drugs you preferred to use if you have a Suboxone prescription. Some people who quit using hard drugs like prescription painkillers or heroin choose to continue drinking. Questioning the interaction between alcohol and Suboxone makes sense for these people.
Not everyone can continue drinking after getting clean, though. After all, a mind-altering substance is still a mind-altering substance no matter what form it takes. Many people in recovery choose not to take anything that “affects them from the neck up.” Still, even if you’re in this group, it’s good to know what happens when you combine Suboxone and alcohol.
Continue reading to learn more about the effects of both substances and what happens when you combine them. It might make you think twice about trying to sneak a drink or two in while you’re in early recovery.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU COMBINE SUBOXONE AND ALCOHOL?
In order to understand the effects of combining Suboxone and alcohol, it helps to know more about each substance individually.
Alcohol is the most easily accessible drug available. It’s available nearly everywhere you go, whether to a restaurant, a concert, or a family get together. Breweries and distilleries blast advertisements across billboards, sports stadiums, and television commercial breaks. It’s nearly impossible to escape.
It’s easy for some to forget that alcohol is still a drug at the end of the day. Its ability to destroy people and those who love them is often forgotten if alcoholism doesn’t directly affect you. Alcohol is a depressant substance that affects your brain and central nervous system. This causes effects such as:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulties balancing
- Decreased inhibitions
- Poor judgment
- Difficulties concentrating
- Loss of memory
- Slowed breathing
Alcohol suppresses many of your body’s normal functions and causes a host of problems on its own. It causes a wide range of poor effects on your health, from surface-level injuries while intoxicated to various types of disease and cancer due to long-term alcohol use.
More than 2.5 million people in the United States have an active opioid use disorder. This lead to nearly 50,000 people dying of an opioid overdose in 2017 alone. That’s more than 130 people every single day.
Thankfully medications like Suboxone exist to help these people get clean and stay away from opioids. Suboxone combines the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone which reduce drug cravings and block the effects of any additional opioids. A properly managed Suboxone treatment plan has the potential to save a person’s life.
Suboxone is an opiate still, though. Its effects aren’t as strong as other drugs such as painkillers, fentanyl, morphine, or heroin, but it does affect the same opioid receptors. Suboxone and alcohol are similar because Suboxone also has a depressant effect on your brain and central nervous system. It suppresses your ability to function but to a lesser extent.
MIXING SUBOXONE AND ALCOHOL
A large number of medications warn you about the dangers of mixing them with alcohol and Suboxone is no different. However, the results of mixing Suboxone and alcohol are often more dangerous than many other combinations.
Again, both Suboxone and alcohol cause depressant effects on your body. Both impact your motor skills, slow your breathing, and decrease your cognitive abilities on their own. When you combine the two, you magnify the effects of each.
Your central nervous system controls a lot of your body’s major functions. When you take in both Suboxone and alcohol at the same time, your CNS takes a real beating. You might experience any number of dangerous or life-threatening side effects.
DANGEROUSLY SLOWED BREATHING
Both Suboxone and alcohol slow your breathing. Your breathing slows to a dangerous point when you combine the two. When your breathing is slowed, you don’t bring enough oxygen into your body to keep it functioning properly.
The combination of alcohol and Suboxone may slow your breathing to the point that you slip into a coma. In a coma you are still alive but completely unresponsive to your surroundings, including light, sound, touch, or pain. This effect is life-threatening if you don’t receive medical attention immediately.
ALCOHOL POISONING OR OVERDOSE
You might not notice the effects of alcohol as much as when you have no other substances in your system. This could lead to you drinking more than your body is capable of handling. Combining alcohol and Suboxone might cause alcohol poisoning or overdose as a result of your decreased inhibitions.
Ultimately, the effects of combining Suboxone and alcohol can be fatal. If you reach the point of coma or overdose and don’t receive proper medical attention right away, you could lose your life.
HOW TO APPROACH SUBOXONE TREATMENT
If you’re currently taking Suboxone, follow your doctor’s orders and avoid drinking any alcohol at all. The risk that comes with even a few drinks isn’t worth the potentially disastrous results. If you want to quit using opioids but continue drinking, talk to your doctor about an alternative to Suboxone treatment.
The best way to approach treatment is to rid your life of substances entirely. Treatment provides you with the tools to learn how to live life without needing a mind-altering substance to get by.
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