Are you sober if you’re on Suboxone?

It’s a question that many opioid addicts have to ask themselves, especially when facing the question of eventual Suboxone withdrawal.

I can tell you that the first time I came across Suboxone in the recovery community, I was confused. Every time I’d bought it in Kansas, I’d used it to get high. I’d heard you could shoot it with a little work, but I only ever snorted it.

It was kind of strange to think of it as a long-term solution to my heroin addiction.

When I went to my last detox facility, I would pretend to put my doses under my tongue, palm them, and take them to my room to snort them.

It sure as shit didn’t feel like I was sober then.

However, things have changed A LOT since then. Most people don’t get the pills anymore–they get the strips, which are much harder to snort.

My ideas about suboxone have changed a lot as well. I think there will always be some people who abuse it, but for most people, it’s an incredible medication that has without question saved lives.

If it’s a choice between going on suboxone for 6 months or a year and relapsing in a month and going back to opioids, suboxone is the only sensible choice.

In my opinion, if you’re taking suboxone every day and you’re not getting high off of it, you’re sober.

It’s no one’s business but yours if you’re considered “sober” or not. That’s between you and your sponsor.

Suboxone Is Great for a Lot of Things

Suboxone is fantastic for a few things:

  1. If you’re dopesick, it gets you well fast
  2. If you know you’re gonna run out and can’t afford more opioids, it gets you through until you can
  3. If you’re using another opiate that only lasts a short while, it gets you through the night so you don’t wake up dopesick
  4. It can help with alcohol cravings
  5. If you continually relapse on opioids and can’t stay sober to save your life, it’s a good transitional medication that can get you to a point where you can wean off successfully

I learned in my last detox that it’s apparently great for weaning off opiates. I’d never bothered to use it for that purpose because I could never reduce the dosage.

Every time I used Suboxone, I got a shitty high, but a high nonetheless. I always wanted to use more. I wasn’t sober on Suboxone.

I knew, in a vague way, that this wasn’t how it was supposed to work. I wasn’t supposed to crave anything while I was on subs, but I sure as hell did.

Suboxone is Buprenorphine plus Naloxone. The Naloxone is great—it doesn’t get you high on its own, and it reduces cravings. It’s like the VIVITROL shot (which is also awesome for opiate addicts and alcoholics in recovery).

Buprenorphine is different. You can get high on Buprenorphine.

Are You Sober if You’re on Suboxone? Not If It Gets You High

It’s an opioid (it gets you high), but it’s a shitty high because the effect of it levels off above a certain dose (24mg/day). If you take it in the right dosage, you won’t get high at all.

Basically, you can take more than 24mg a day, but you won’t get higher. So that’s why it’s not a great high and most opiate addicts don’t take it unless they either don’t have a choice or want to use it for the reasons I listed above.

Here’s a fancy graph to show you what I’m talking about.

Figure 2-1. Conceptual Representation of Opioid Effect Versus Log Dose for Opioid Full Agonists, Partial Agonists, and Antagonists*.

You can see from the same graph why it’s better than Methadone if your goal is to get off heroin / oxy / morphine etc—you can keep taking Methadone and keep getting higher and higher, but with Suboxone, it doesn’t really work, so you just kind of stop and deal with your bad high instead of doing too much and ODing.

Plus, when you’re on Suboxone, you can’t get high off of other opiates. You have to wait until you’re dopesick off of Suboxone until you can use heroin or OxyContin or something and get high.

It helps you not use more because you basically can’t without having to get dopesick.

Suboxone is in many ways a miracle drug. If you can’t stay off heroin (which is far, far more dangerous than Suboxone), and if Suboxone is the only way you can get away from heroin and stay off it, then that’s great, and it’s okay if you say you’re sober on Suboxone

If it helps you get your life back together, gives you the ability to work and stop stealing and stop hurting people and stop lying and cheating and all the bad stuff that opiates make you do, then that’s great—it’s better than ODing and ruining your life and the lives of those around you.

It’s harm reduction, and for a lot of people, that’s the best they can do, and there’s no shame in that—it’s really really hard to stay 100% sober.

That being said, when I was on subs, I was for sure high. I didn’t feel it, but everyone around me could tell.

I Got off Suboxone Even Though Suboxone Withdrawal Is Rough

Being on Suboxone at the maximum dose did not feel like sobriety at all to me.

Remember, I was snorting these things in detox, and that was absolutely not my plan when I first got on them. I really did want to quit.

I was terrified to leave that detox because I knew I was going to walk out of there and get high, and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I didn’t want to snort Suboxone, but I was doing it anyway.

I felt so powerless, to the point that I confessed to our little process group that I was snorting Suboxone. My therapist told me I should tell the nurses so that they would make sure I took it as prescribed.

I did what he said. It didn’t work. I palmed it anyway. I kept snorting Suboxone despite that. I think the only way I could have stopped would be if the nurses held me down and forced me to take the pills the way I was supposed to.

Even when I switched to the strips, which thankfully couldn’t be snorted, I was still craving more of them after I took them.

They say Suboxone reduces cravings. I think it does for a lot of people.

It just didn’t for me.

They gave me a buzz, and even at lower doses when I wasn’t high, I was acting like I was high.

The rehab I went to required us to wean off Suboxone using the strips, and I thank the gods that they did, because there’s no way in hell I could have done it on my own.

When I finally weaned off, I got dopesick again. When I finally felt well enough to walk out of my room and rejoin everyone in rehab, I sat down next to this woman in the lecture hall. She turned to me and gave me the oddest look. I’ll never forget what she said.

“You look so different. I can see it in your face. Your face looks so… so healthy.”

That’s stuck with me through the years. When I went through Suboxone withdrawal, I underwent a physical change that others noticed.

I also lost a lot of the irritability that goes along with opiate use for me. I felt different. I looked different. I was glad to be off. It was a good tool. It helped me wean off of opiates.

Suboxone Isn’t Bad for Everyone — Make Your Own Choice

I knew when I stumbled drunk and high into detox that I wanted to be completely free of substances and the accompanying depression. I knew that I didn’t want to have to worry about running out of pills, that I didn’t want to be dependent on something ever again.

For me, Suboxone was great for getting me off heroin, but it was never a long-term solution.

It might not be the same for you.

Everyone has to make their own choice. Just make sure you’re being honest with yourself, and make sure you’re going to be okay with whatever choice you make.

If you agree that it’s okay to say you’re sober when you’re on suboxone, let me know in the comments.

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Jason Glenn
Jason Glenn
3 years ago

Suboxone has been a life saving med for me. I was a slave to the methadone devil for about 5 years and finally the methadone Dr made me an appt to come see him at his regular practice. This was in 2004/2005.. So subs were still a fairy new drug. I got down to 15 or 20 mg of methadone before making the jump to Subutex. I had no problems switching over. No precip. W.d…nothing. I felt like I’d finally beat the needles and the lifestyle led by a junkie. I’ve taken myself off and then back on subs several times with very little withdrawal.
Oh and by the way, the strips can be snorted and it’s pretty rad. You just cut about an 8th to a quarter of your strip and stick it inside the bridge of you nose. It’ll dissolve and you get more of the buperinoprhine in your system. The naloxone is only there as a deterrent so people want shoot strips or pills. Although I’ve seen many people do it without any consequence. The buperinorphine itself is what throws you into p.w.s NOT THE NALOXONE. The buprenorphine has a higher affinity for your opioid receptors so it will knock off any other opiate that may still hanging around in your receptors. That’s why it’s important to wait until your 1st dose of Sub.. In fact the naloxone was put into the suboxone just to get it passed through the DEA and all the powers that be over medication. There’s not enough naloxone to really have any effect at all. Like i said I’ve watched people shoot it up without consequences. I take anywhere from 8mg a day to 16 mg per day. Depending on how im feeling but i have gone up to 5 and 6 days without it and been just fine other than anxiety. Everyone is different and there’s no one size fits all formula but Suboxone has been a life saver for me. Im a single father raising a young daughter and doing it successfully. If I have to be on subs for the rest of my life then so be it. It’s no different than the man taking meds for his high b.p. or heart meds or whatever. I know it’s a crutch but it doesn’t get me high AT ALL…no one can tell Im on anything. Thank God I have Alabama Medicaid as well so i don’t pay a dime for 60 films each month. Good luck everyone and if my opinion helps you feel free to message me about whatever your concerns may be.
Thanks

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jason Glenn

So do you get high when you stick 2mg up the bridge of your nose. Im a dad too. Just had twins- would
Love to have a high feeling. Lol

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Ryan Smith

It’s been a life saver for me to bud. Thanks for sharing, Jason. Still really interested in how it makes you feel when you take it nasally. Lol, I just tried it.

Nick
Nick
3 years ago
Reply to  Jason Glenn

Pretty sure the naloxone doesn’t do anything and it’s just there for show, I’ve injected the old stop sign 8’s, zubsolvs, and even the films (yes you can inject the film, let it dissolve and filter it using a wheel filter, make sure to use a wheel filter do NOT use anything else unless you want all kinds of crap in your syringe and inside your veins), and never had any kind of precip withdrawals. I believe bupe has a higher binding affinity than naloxone so even if you do inject it, the bupe blocks it.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Jason Glenn

Your story is relatable to me, I wish I could join a discussion group about stuff like this. I’ll probably be on subs the rest of my life as well. Single mom with three still at home. It would be great to compare notes and see if it affects anyone else the way it does me.

Claude Fair
Claude Fair
3 years ago

I was addicted to opioids for 30 years. I wanted to stop for decades but refused to pay the price of withdrawal. I kept my addiction to myself and even my wife had no idea. Finally, after retirement, I had no way of traveling to Mexico for my job. Facing the inevitable, I tried to detox on kratom but after my eyes swelling and feeling like total shit, I confessed to my wife and family and checked into rehab. After 3 days of suboxone, I was taken off. Big mistake! I was sooo dopesick I couldn’t concentrate in lecture hall and damn sure couldn’t sleep. After 5 days I begged for Suboxone. The doctor convinced me I was a “perfect” candidate and would be weened off in 18-24 months. I didn’t care, just give me some relief. I got relief but the Suboxone made me feel so shitty and I had zero energy, which is far from my personality. After 30 plus days on Suboxone, my wife asked me to read a blog about people that were on the Suboxone “taper down”
Well, what I found were people that were very unhappy and wanted their life back. Many people had been on this “taper down “ for 5-15 years or more! I went cold turkey that night.
I went to rehab to get sober and I wasn’t. I have been off Suboxone for 75 days and I still feel terrible from 30 years of drug abuse but I’m slowly feeling better and IM SOBER!
This is my experience with Suboxone and I agree with Adam to make your own choice.

Jake
Jake
3 years ago

i guess it really does vary person to person.. for me, suboxone has been miraculous. went from smoking hundreds of dollars of fent daily to 2 months of brutal acute and post acute withdrawal. it was unbearable. 8mg of suboxone daily completely diminishes my cravings without getting me high. the most i feel is a slight relief if it’s been too long since my last dose. side effects are negligible. sometimes i can’t shit for a couple days and sometimes it makes me more tired that i feel i should be on a full nights sleep.. that’s literally it. no euphoria, no dragon to chase. and that’s how i prefer it. chasing an opiate high is a game the ends in death or prison. we all need to realize that at some point..

Nick
Nick
3 years ago

Suboxone is the only reason I’m alive and not in prison or in the hospital. I’ve been on it for 6 years now and will probably continue taking it for years to come. I was lucky enough to be able to get a very large supply so I don’t have to worry about doctors appointments and running out. It might not be “sober” but for me it’s definitely still recovery, and it’s a great feeling to know I’ll never have to use heroin or be sick ever again.

ace bookoo
ace bookoo
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick

That’s all that matters.

Brandon W
Brandon W
3 years ago

Okay, so, about 5 years ago I went to rehab for the first time for a sever opioid habit. At the time, I had never even heard of Suboxone. But when the sickness came on in the first few days, and seeing everyone else feeling so much better on this miracle drug, I decided wth can it hurt. Fast forward 2 years later, by this time I realize that I’m still not myself, didn’t take interest in things that I use to, need to sleep 3 hours extra every night, no longer have the drive I once had. I knew I needed to get off so, completely on my own, I stopped for 30 days straight and was so physically and mentally sick that I barely left my bedroom the whole month. Finally, feel up to leaving the house and got these horrible anxiety attacks and I’ve never had anxiety in my life. I tried and I tried but the docs wouldn’t prescribe me anxiety meds cuz they’re not for previous users and it was the anxiety that made me go right back to the subs after I had put in allll that time off of them. I mean it was debilitating anxiety. Fast forward another 3 years, I’m still on them and I wish every day I could have my old self back. It’s to the point now where everything could be falling down around me but as long as I’ve had my sub for the day then I’d find a way to be okay with it. I used to be an ambitious, clean freak that always tried to be the best. Now, I barely get a shower once a week and could care less if I advance in anything.

It might take years to figure out, and it might seem great at first, but you are NOT YOU when you’re on suboxone. I’m still on it til this day but I can’t find the strength knowing how much it took from me the last time I tried. I JUST HOPE THAT YOU CAN…

Michelle
Michelle
2 years ago
Reply to  Brandon W

This was the most similar one I have read from my experience. Suboxone made me a prisoner inside my own home. I realized I couldn’t get up for the day if I didn’t take it, and eventually I would begin to miss it because I started to hate it so much. I am 14 days out cold turkey, and it’s great to feel again. It’s great to slow down, and see the world around me, and feel empathy again. I can laugh at a stupid video I see, i feel human again. Like i told my husband it took away my humanity. Suboxone was not for me. My goal is to live the rest of my life without anything. I refuse to let another substance ruin my life. Oh and the withdrawals are pure hell. It’s good for some, but Def not good for me. I was on it for 2 years. November 1,2021 Day 1. It’s a long one and today 14 days later I think I can finally move a little more without getting out of breath.

Patrick Zarek
Patrick Zarek
2 years ago

How in the hell do I quit the Suboxone. It’s terrible…

ace bookoo
ace bookoo
2 years ago

I’m sober on subs but they only work because I got down to a low dose on methadone first. If you go from a bad addiction of opiates or a high dose of methadone right to subs they are not strong enough IMO. You should never give up and keep trying til you find what works. Someone somewhere needs you to stay alive and fight for them.

Sue
Sue
3 months ago

I’m crying reading these posts, Adam. I feel like you know my life story. Do you have recommendations for therapy? Mental health/ED/alcoholic/addict.

Sue
Sue
3 months ago
Reply to  Adam Fout

You have been so amazing to reply personally and via the website. I feel like I might not be such a waste of potential when I read your posts. I also feel like I am on my way to better days. Thank you so much for inspiring me.

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