can you get high on subutex

Can You Get High On Subutex?

Can You Get High On Subutex? Subutex, a brand name for buprenorphine, is a medication primarily used in the treatment of opioid addiction. Unlike full opioid agonists such as heroin or morphine, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it activates the same brain receptors but to a much lesser degree. This characteristic allows it to alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals dependent on opioids, without producing the same level of euphoria or respiratory depression typical of stronger opioids. However, the question arises: Can you get high on Subutex? This article delves into the mechanisms of Subutex, its potential for abuse, and the risks involved.

The Mechanism of Subutex

To understand whether Subutex can induce a high, it’s crucial to comprehend how it works in the brain. Buprenorphine binds to the mu-opioid receptors, but because it is a partial agonist, its activity is limited compared to full agonists like heroin. This partial activation is sufficient to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and cravings in individuals with opioid dependence, but it is designed to lower the risk of misuse and addiction.

The Potential for Abuse

Despite its design and intentions, Subutex does have the potential for abuse. The likelihood of experiencing a euphoric effect from Subutex is higher in individuals who are not already tolerant to opioids. For those with a significant tolerance, Subutex is unlikely to produce a notable high. Instead, it may simply ward off withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Abuse of Subutex can occur in several ways, including taking higher doses than prescribed, using it more frequently than recommended, or administering it via unapproved routes, such as snorting or injecting the drug. These methods of abuse aim to bypass the medication’s slow-release mechanism, seeking an immediate and more intense effect.

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The Risks of Seeking a High from Subutex

1. Physical Health Risks

Abusing Subutex, especially through non-oral routes, significantly increases the risk of overdose, respiratory depression, and death. Although buprenorphine has a “ceiling effect” — a limit to the respiratory depression it can cause — combining it with other substances, particularly sedatives like benzodiazepines or alcohol, can be lethal.

2. Dependency and Addiction

Using Subutex in ways not prescribed can lead to physical dependence and addiction. This risk is particularly acute for individuals without a prior opioid dependency, as their bodies are not accustomed to the effects of opioids.

3. Legal and Social Consequences

Possessing or using Subutex without a prescription is illegal and can result in significant legal consequences, including imprisonment. Additionally, misuse of Subutex can lead to the deterioration of personal relationships, employment issues, and financial problems.

4. Withdrawal Symptoms

Discontinuing Subutex abruptly after prolonged misuse can lead to withdrawal symptoms. While generally not as severe as those associated with full opioid agonists, Subutex withdrawal can be uncomfortable and includes symptoms like nausea, muscle aches, insomnia, and irritability.

Addressing Subutex Misuse

1. Medical Supervision

Individuals prescribed Subutex for opioid dependency should use it strictly under medical supervision. This oversight includes regular check-ins with a healthcare provider to adjust the dose as needed and to monitor for signs of misuse.

2. Comprehensive Treatment Programs

Effective treatment of opioid dependency often requires more than just medication. Comprehensive programs that include counseling, therapy, and support groups can address the underlying causes of addiction and help prevent relapse.

3. Education and Awareness

Educating patients and the public about the risks of Subutex misuse and the realities of opioid addiction can help reduce stigma and promote healthier attitudes towards recovery.

4. Alternative Therapies

For some, exploring non-opioid-based treatments for pain and addiction can be beneficial. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and mindfulness have shown promise in treating addiction and its underlying causes.


While Subutex has a lower potential for abuse compared to full opioid agonists, it is not without risks. Seeking a high from Subutex, especially for those not used to opioids, is possible but fraught with significant health, legal, and personal dangers. It’s crucial for individuals prescribed Subutex to follow their healthcare provider’s instructions closely and for those around them to be aware of the signs of misuse. With proper use under medical supervision, Subutex can be an effective tool in overcoming opioid addiction, but it must be approached with caution and responsibility.

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