Some patients who take Suboxone® as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) also take Xanax. They may have prescriptions for both drugs from separate doctors. Certain patients in MAT who take Xanax use it with the intention of increasing the high they feel from opioids. Anyone who takes these two drugs together has numerous risks to face. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why you should change your treatment plan if you take both Suboxone and Xanax.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a medication used in MAT that reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It helps patients by activating the opioid receptors without causing euphoria. Minimizing the effects of withdrawal and removing a positive association with opiates makes it easier to commit to treatment. The naloxone in Suboxone also deters injection. Buprenorphine, an opioid that is safe for recovery under supervision, satisfies the brain’s need for opioids without a “high.” Since Suboxone contains both compounds, it combines their benefits.
Can Someone Overdose on Suboxone?
When you take Suboxone as directed by your doctor, you have a low chance of overdose. Your doctor will determine an amount to take every day that suits your symptoms. However, you can overdose on Suboxone when you misuse it. Taking a higher amount than recommended can cause slowed breathing, sedation, and even death. Injecting Suboxone or using it in another unapproved way can also cause an overdose. Suboxone has interactions with drugs such as Xanax that can increase your risk.
What Is Xanax?
Doctors prescribe Xanax for patients with panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression. Xanax relieves anxiety symptoms caused by mental health conditions, helping the patient function in everyday life. In some cases, a doctor can prescribe Xanax for insomnia symptoms as well. However, this medicine’s main purpose is to treat anxiety.
Is Xanax an Opiate?
How does Xanax relate to Suboxone? It is not considered an opioid, but it has a few similar effects. Xanax causes sedation and slowed breathing, which also occur from the effects of opioids. When you take Xanax according to directions and without interactions, you can have reduced anxiety and insomnia symptoms. However, some circumstances can increase these effects to dangerous levels.
Differences Between Suboxone and Xanax
Suboxone and Xanax differ in factors such as:
- Drug category: While Suboxone falls under the category of opioids, Xanax belongs in the benzodiazepine category of drugs.
- Purpose: Doctors prescribe Suboxone as part of MAT, and they use Xanax to relieve anxiety symptoms.
- Mechanism of action: Suboxone works by attaching to opioid receptors, while Xanax increases levels of the neurotransmitter GABA.
These differences can cause someone to take the two drugs together without realizing they have a risky interaction with one another. Clear communication between doctor and patient can promote safer treatment.
What Happens When Someone Takes Xanax and Suboxone Together?
People who misuse Xanax with Suboxone take it in an attempt to feel euphoria from their Suboxone. Xanax strengthens the euphoric effects of full opioid agonists or opiates that activate the full opioid receptor. However, Suboxone acts as a partial opioid agonist, which means it causes partial activation. This effect lets the buprenorphine in Suboxone satisfy cravings without euphoria. Since Suboxone has no impact on mood, it doesn’t create more euphoria when combined with Xanax. Instead, it has stronger effects on the central nervous system.
MAT programs screen patients for alcohol and benzodiazepines such as Xanax because of this interaction. The medications used in MAT, including Suboxone, can have a lethal effect when combined with benzodiazepines. Since MAT medicine and benzodiazepines both suppress breathing, they can cause the patient to stop breathing entirely. Your treatment team screens you for certain drugs and asks about your medical history to prevent this hazard.
What If My Family Doctor Prescribes Xanax?
Many people who take Xanax and Suboxone may have a prescribing doctor who doesn’t know about their medication history. A doctor who prescribes Xanax might not realize that the patient takes Suboxone. Sometimes, a patient who participates in MAT doesn’t mention their addiction treatment. The doctor then prescribes Xanax because they see no potential interactions. Remember to tell your general practitioner about your Suboxone treatment to ensure you have no conflicting prescriptions.
When your doctor prescribes an opioid, they should know about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Opioid and benzodiazepine packaging have warnings about their interactions. If your treatment team notices that you take Suboxone and Xanax together, they will also encourage you to talk to your doctor. The experts at your clinic can help you communicate with your physician. If you feel comfortable with it, try asking about signing a release that lets your clinic and doctor coordinate treatment.
Patients who need to stop taking a benzodiazepine because of MAT still have options. Benzodiazepines, of course, offer immediate relief of anxiety symptoms. However, if you switch to an SSRI medication, which works on your brain’s ability to process an important biochemical, it will not provide that immediate relief, but it will gradually provide a steady, continuous reduction of anxiety symptoms. And it will be compatible with your Suboxone.
If your family doctor refuses to switch your medication, consider seeing another professional. Your counselor at the Suboxone treatment program can refer you to a doctor if you feel you need medication to help with anxiety or a trauma-induced stress disorder.
What Other Drugs Interact With Suboxone?
Any benzodiazepine can interact with MAT medicines like Suboxone. Common drugs in the benzodiazepine group include clonazepam (Klonopin) and diazepam (Valium). Make sure to tell your doctor and clinic staff if you take medication for insomnia or anxiety. You may have a prescription for a benzodiazepine without realizing it.
Alcohol can also create a risk of central nervous system depression during MAT treatment. Let your treatment team know if you drink, especially if you have issues with alcoholism. You may need to stop drinking alcohol when you take Suboxone or another medication for MAT. The care professionals at your clinic and your doctor’s office can work with you to find the right treatment.
By informing your medical professionals about your medications and drug use, you can ensure a successful recovery. Your doctors have a professional obligation to keep your health details confidential. We recommend keeping track of your prescriptions and dosage amounts so that you can give them accurate information.
How Will My MAT Clinic Ensure a Safe Experience?
The professionals at your MAT clinic have plenty of measures in place to provide safe and effective treatment. At MedMark Treatment Centers, we use the following aspects of our program to promote your well-being:
- Intake: Your first appointment involves a medical and clinical intake where we learn about your medications and drug use. This information lets us offer the right treatment.
- Medical supervision: Every patient’s care team includes an experienced physician who oversees their services. Your doctor will keep records of your medical history that inform your treatment plan.
- Regular drug screenings: The law requires us to conduct drug screenings on our patients, but we also use them to keep you safe. If we notice any substances that conflict with your MAT program, we can adjust your treatment strategy.
We will take every step needed to make your treatment successful.
Find a MedMark Treatment Center Near You
At MedMark Treatment Centers, we provide MAT in a compassionate, judgment-free environment. Let us help you start the path to recovery. We welcome you to schedule an intake appointment by contacting us online or calling us at 866.840.6658.