Many people who are prescribed Suboxone for addiction treatment make the mistake of taking Suboxone and Xanax together. It’s a dangerous practice that can get you kicked out of your Suboxone program and it can also get you kicked out of life—landing you on a coroner’s slab—if you’re not careful. Here’s why.
Unfortunately, many people go into addiction treatment without any focus on stopping their addictive habits. When the doctor prescribes 4 mg or 8 mg of Suboxone, they think, why not take 10 or 12 mg? What they then discover is that they don’t get high from Suboxone. It’s only a partial agonist, unlike methadone, and so it does not stimulate the brain’s opioid receptors. It does not induce any euphoria. What it does best is exactly what it’s intended to do, for the person who wants to beat addiction: It stops cravings and withdrawal symptoms so that you will not go out and use drugs illegally.
Suboxone and Xanax Because You Just Wanna Get High
The people who are in jeopardy from taking addictive opiates put themselves into a dangerous game of Final Jeopardy by adding benzodiazepines. Some people take Suboxone and Xanax together because they think Xanax will kick the Suboxone into high gear. Even though they don’t feel high from taking Suboxone, they think they will definitely be in a better place if they add some Xanax. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, and taking Suboxone and Xanax together will get you to only one other better place—the Afterlife. Because taking Suboxone and Xanax together is a surefire recipe for a fatal overdose.
Why do you think that Suboxone treatment programs screen their clients for alcohol and benzodiazepines? It’s because those substances are lethal when combined with either methadone or buprenorphine, aka Suboxone and Subutex. Suboxone and Xanax together might create a central nervous system depression that results in respiratory failure. Put simply, your lungs just stop breathing.
Some people who take Suboxone struggle with their recovery, and they might try taking their pain pills or heroin along with the Suboxone. But the Suboxone contains naloxone, which blocks the body’s ability to experience a high and it can also cause the person to go into withdrawal. Subutex contains just buprenorphine without naloxone, and so while you won’t go into withdrawal if you take an opiate pain pill with it, you won’t get high, either.
So they think that taking Suboxone and Xanax together gets them that high they’re reaching for. The truth is that they are only feeling the effects of the Xanax. Other than the dangerous potential for respiratory depression, there is no kicky drug effect from taking the two together.
What If Your Family Doctor Prescribes Xanax?
Unfortunately, many people who are taking Suboxone and Xanax together do so because they haven’t communicated well with their family doctor. Doctors who do not know that a patient is taking Suboxone may continue to prescribe Xanax, especially if it is for a level of severe anxiety such as the veterans suffering from PTSD, women who were abused, or anyone who experienced a trauma such as a devastating auto accident.
However, any counselor at a Suboxone treatment program can tell you that there are those doctors who know their patient is taking Suboxone but they continue to prescribe the Xanax. The treatment center staff will notice that the person’s urine drug screen shows they are taking Suboxone and Xanax or some other benzodiazepine together, and the counselor will advise them to talk to the doctor. If the client signs a release, the Suboxone doctor can even communicate with the family doctor. Ultimately, however, it will be up to the patient to communicate with the doctor that their medication should be switched.
If you’re suffering from anxiety or stress, don’t feel that a benzodiazepine such as Xanax is your only option. Benzodiazepines, of course, offer immediate relief of those anxieties. 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, then 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.