Opioids trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. The release of dopamine creates the sensation of feeling high. Buprenorphine, the central ingredient in Suboxone, a buprenorphine/naloxone combination product, is a partial opioid agonist. Suboxone’s partial opioid properties can mislead and manifest the belief that, like opioids, Suboxone can make you high. Opioids cause cognitive impairment, sedation, and addiction. Suboxone does not. 

Can Suboxone Get You High?

You must be in withdrawal before starting Suboxone treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). When placed under the tongue as directed, you cannot get high from Suboxone. Knowing how to take your medication properly is crucial. Don’t swallow the medication, and don’t swallow saliva that has medication in it. If you swallow it, it does not work. Suboxone is formulated to dissolve sublingually. It only works if it is absorbed under the tongue. If you swallow the residual fluid, you can experience an upset stomach and headache. For more information see How the Suboxone Spit Trick Works.

How Long Does It Take For Suboxone to Dissolve? 

Moisten your mouth first, then place the film at the base of the tongue. Allow the suboxone film to dissolve completely under the tongue. Do not consume nicotine or caffeine 15 minutes before, during, or 15 minutes after the medication dissolves. Once the film disappears, spit out what remains. See How the Suboxone Spit Trick Works for more on this. Avoid chewing gum and smokeless tobacco products also.

What Does Suboxone Do? 

Suboxone is a long-lasting medication with long-term effectiveness. The effects of the buprenorphine in the drug dissipate gradually over an extended period of time. This greatly diminishes the scope of withdrawal as compared with full opioid withdrawal.  Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. Opioid withdrawal and the timeline of the symptoms vary from patient to patient. Some factors that impact the length and severity of withdrawal include the patient's overall health, both physically and mentally, sex, and age. The type of substance used, the duration of time and frequency at which the substance is used, the route of administration, and the combination of other medications or drugs in the system all affect withdrawal symptoms.  In order to effectively manage withdrawal and treat opioid use disorder, the physician/licensed practitioner should be aware of these details. 

Withdrawal can be categorized in two phases, short-term acute withdrawal or opioid abstinence syndrome and long-term withdrawal or protracted opioid withdrawal syndrome—both with independent timelines.  

Relapse can occur to curtail cravings and discomfort instigated from acute and protracted withdrawal syndromes. These are two separate concepts. It is important to understand the patient’s experience to understand what has or is causing relapse to tailor the pharmacotherapy to avert and minimize the risk of relapse. The pharmacotherapy prescribed should address both cases. See Can You Overdose on Suboxone for more on relapse. 

Effects of short-term withdrawal can include anxiety, paranoia, diarrhea, change in appetite, abdominal cramping, vomiting, insomnia, and sweating. The length of acute withdrawal syndrome depends on the patient and the factors listed above. It can last anywhere from 5 hours to 5 days. The patient has a higher propensity to relapse while going through acute withdrawal as opposed to just experiencing cravings. The severity of the symptoms affects the relapse rate. Often patients will opt to continue opioid use to avoid the illnesses brought on by withdrawal, even if the euphoric effects of the opioid use have plateaued. 

Long-term, protracted withdrawal effects are connected to psychological distress and trauma. There is no standardized timeline for this phase. This is where therapy and support services can provide an important component of medication assisted treatment (MAT). Case management services that can assist with obtaining gainful employment and housing, help rebuild relationships and provide counsel for relationship issues are vital to rehabilitation and recovery, along with consistent psychosocial therapy and behavioral support.

Can You Get High Off Suboxone Strips?

While Suboxone does stimulate euphoria, the sublingual delivery of the medication regulates its addictive potential so long as the Suboxone strip is not used in conjunction with other synthetic, full opioid agonists like oxycodone, morphine, and/or heroin. Suboxone concurrently eliminates cravings and acts to control withdrawal symptoms. To understand more about whether or not Suboxone can get you high, see Can You Overdose on Suboxone? and Can  Suboxone Lead to Addiction? or contact us directly to schedule a consultation with one of the Confidant’s qualified practitioners.