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. 

Does Suboxone Block The Effects Of Alcohol?

Sometimes people assume that because Suboxone works in opioid addiction treatment,  it might also block the effects of alcohol and help people with an alcohol use disorder. This is a misconception, because Suboxone actually enhances the central nervous system effects of alcohol.

Rather than blocking alcohol’s effects, when alcohol and suboxone are taken together, people are more likely to experience side effects of central nervous system depression, including dizziness, coordination problems, sleepiness, and blurred vision. Some people may even abuse these substances together in order to feel a stronger high. 

Does Suboxone Help With Alcohol Withdrawal?

There has been some interest in using drugs like Suboxone for alcohol withdrawal, since they contain buprenorphine, but there is no solid evidence that taking buprenorphine for alcohol use disorder is effective. One study with animals found that low doses of buprenorphine actually increased alcohol consumption, whereas higher doses reduced drinking. 

While certain doses of Suboxone may play a role in treating alcohol withdrawal, this is not an FDA-approved use of the drug. If you’re looking for treatment for alcohol use disorder, it is best to consult with a doctor. 

Can Suboxone Help Patients With Both Alcohol And Opioid Use Disorders?

Some patients with alcohol use disorders may take Suboxone, but keep in mind that this drug is meant to treat the opioid addiction, not the alcohol addiction. Buprenorphine for alcohol use disorder is not currently an approved use of this medication.

Furthermore, given the risks of mixing alcohol and Suboxone, doctors may be hesitant to prescribe Suboxone to patients with an alcohol use disorder. Should they relapse and begin drinking while on Suboxone, they are at risk of potentially fatal effects, like death from respiratory depression. 

If you’re looking for opioid addiction treatment and you also have an alcohol use disorder, be sure to communicate this fact to your Suboxone doctor, who will monitor you during treatment and discuss the dangers of mixing Suboxone and alcohol. 

While Suboxone is not a recommended treatment option for someone with an alcohol use disorder, the prescription drug naltrexone may be beneficial for treating alcohol addiction. Sometimes, people confuse Suboxone with naltrexone, but they are two entirely different substances.

Naltrexone, unlike Suboxone, is used to treat both alcohol and opioid use disorders. It blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids, and it can reduce alcohol cravings. One caveat about naltrexone is that you should not take this medication for alcohol use disorder if you are also taking Suboxone for opioid use disorder, because naltrexone can block the effects of Suboxone and make it ineffective, and it may cause severe withdrawal symptoms. 

FAQs on Alcohol and Suboxone

If you have concerns about mixing Suboxone with alcohol, the following FAQs may also be helpful.

Is Suboxone Hard On Your Liver?

Suboxone is generally considered safe when taken under the direction of a doctor, but some people may experience liver problems when taking Suboxone. Liver abnormalities and liver failure are more common among people with pre-existing conditions like hepatitis B. 

The risk of liver problems is another reason that Suboxone and alcohol should not be combined, since alcohol can also damage the liver. If you’re taking Suboxone, it is important to consult with your doctor about any health conditions, including liver disease, that you may have. 

What can interact with Suboxone?

Central nervous system depressants, including alcohol, benzodiazepines, anxiety medications, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, antipsychotic medications, and other opioid drugs, can all interact with Suboxone and create dangerous interaction effects. It is important to discuss any other medications you are taking with your doctor before starting Suboxone.

Is buprenorphine effective in treating alcohol addiction?

Some scientists have speculated that the buprenorphine in Suboxone may be effective for treating alcohol addiction, but there is no strong evidence supporting this belief. Suboxone is not FDA-approved for alcohol use disorder.

Can I Use Suboxone and Alcohol Together?

Some people may choose to drink while on Suboxone, but using Suboxone and alcohol together is not recommended. Both drugs can depress the central nervous system, which can lead to respiratory distress and even death. 

Work With Confidant Health’s Suboxone Doctors Online 

If you’re in search of opioid addiction treatment, working with an online Suboxone clinic like the one provided through Confidant Health gives you access to the services you need from the comfort of home. Our app is available on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store. Download it today to begin virtual opioid addiction treatment.