Mixing Suboxone and alcohol is not advisable because of the potential health risks. A person undergoing treatment for substance use disorder needs to follow the guidelines laid out in the program to succeed. Even in a casual setting, drinking alcohol while on Suboxone (or any other prescription medication for that matter) is cautioned against. We’ll discuss the reasons why below.
Understanding Suboxone's Effect on the Body
Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone and is US Food and Drug Administration-approved to be used as part of a medication assisted treatment (MAT) program for opioid use disorder. Acting as a partial agonist, it works by altering brain receptors to reduce the user’s cravings for opioid substances and tone down withdrawal symptoms.
Now that we’ve laid out Suboxone’s effect on the body, let’s talk about what alcohol does when combined with this form of treatment.
What Alcohol Does to the Body
Drinking too much can cause detrimental effects on many bodily organs.
For one, alcohol interferes with how the brain operates, causing changes in behavior and mood, as well as limiting one's ability to move with coordination and think rationally. It has also been linked to many heart-related problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Those who drink heavily also place their livers and pancreas at risk for various inflammations and degradations, many of which are irreversible.
The list of points against alcohol is long, ranging from detrimental to fatal. With that said, mixing Suboxone and alcohol is highly discouraged.
Why Drinking Alcohol on Suboxone is Ill-Advised
The biggest risk from drinking alcohol when on Suboxone is clearly stated in the drug’s literature. Mixing Suboxone and alcohol can lead to a high chance of respiratory and central nervous system depression.
Patients with compromised respiratory function, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercapnia, or any other pre-existing respiratory depression should not drink alcohol while on Suboxone. This also applies to those with hypersensitive reactions to alcohol that lead to bronchospasms, rashes, hives, and anaphylactic shock.
It is also important to mention that those who drink alcohol while taking Suboxone are most likely doing so against the clinical provider’s advice, some even secretly. Beyond the physical side effects of consuming alcohol, there is also the risk of using alcohol as a substitute for the opioid addiction from which you are trying to recover.
Pursue a Safe and Sustainable Recovery with MATClinics
With all that said, the true key to sustainable recovery from opioid addiction is deciding to treat your body and self better. Proper adherence to one’s MAT program guidelines, along with solid psychosocial support and therapy, is essential to one’s long-term success.
MATClinics therapies are personalized to meet your individual needs to help you achieve positive change for the long haul. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of medication assisted therapy and how we can best help you.