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Are You Sober If You’re on Suboxone? I Wasn’t | I Was Snorting Suboxone

Are you sober if you’re on Suboxone? I wasn’t — I was snorting Suboxone.

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

When I woke up in a detox in 2011, the doctor said, “We’re going to put you on Suboxone to wean you off heroin. We recommend you stay on for at least 6 months.”

I laughed in his face.

“You’re not sober if you’re on Suboxone man,” I said. “I used to snort Suboxone all the time. Suboxone makes you high.”

He rolled his eyes.

“Well, we highly recommend it.”

“I’ll cold turkey it man,” I said. “Just bring me some Pepto-Bismol and Clonidine for the sweats and the shits.”

He didn’t bring me either. I think they were offended.

This was the first time I’d come across Suboxone in the recovery community. 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.

Well, it wasn’t strange—it was stupid. I’d never felt sober on Suboxone.

That being said, I gave up on day 3 of my detox and begged that man for Suboxone, promising myself that I would get off as soon as I could.

I put my morning dose under my tongue like I was supposed to and got instant relief.

I pretended to put my nighttime dose under my tongue, palmed it, and took it to my room to snort it.

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

Suboxone Is Great for a Lot of Things | Staying Sober Isn’t One of Them

It’s 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 H, 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

I learned then that it’s apparently great for weaning off opiates too. 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.

If you’re struggling to stay sober on Suboxone, download my free guide — 11 Tips to Stay Sober.

Get It Here

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).

Basically, you can take more than 24mg a day, but you won’t get higher. So that’s why it’s shitty 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 shitty 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 (not that this stops many addicts).

And look, I’ll never say that Suboxone is a 100% bad idea. 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 shit 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 — I definitely wasn’t sober on Suboxone.

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.

Maybe it does for a lot of people.

It sure didn’t for me.

I wasn’t sober on Suboxone.

They gave me a buzz, and even at lower doses, 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. This is an important point—why would you have withdrawals if being on it was sober? That by itself is a sign that you’re not sober when you’re on Suboxone.

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 sober.

And I hadn’t been sober as long as I was on Suboxone.

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 feel like you’re sober on Suboxone, let me know in the comments.

If you’re struggling to stay sober on Suboxone, download my free guide — 11 Tips to Stay Sober.

Get It Here

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Jason Glenn
Jason Glenn
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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.

Claude Fair
Claude Fair
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

That’s all that matters.

Brandon W
Brandon W
1 year 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
6 months 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
3 months ago

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

ace bookoo
ace bookoo
1 month 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.

Fannybannyboheroinaddict
Fannybannyboheroinaddict
29 days ago

So let me say I’m not bashing the writer… But .. maybe naming the article this way has only added to the growing stigma that subs are getting. Anything that makes you feel good can be used, alcohol, benzos, herb even friggin psychedelics because of maybe factors including predisposition, lack of coping skills and many more. I started shooting scag at 15, smoking at 14 but my addiction was at it’s worst right around 19. This was because I moved from new England to Arkansas and OC’s were the only thing besides Dilaudid that was really accessible (Heroin… scratch that, Fentanyl in the last few years is now everywhere thou and people are dropping like flies). I went to methadone for several years (started using and drinking heavily about 3 years in after only MAT and the hellish structured treatment plans methadone comes with, looking back I have no idea how I could have a “normal” life and follow program guidelines if I hadn’t phased up with take homes). It wasn’t until about 3 years ago after numerous relapses, ODs, self destructive and relationship abusing habits that I tried Suboxone treatment. I’m 34,(thank God no Hep C or heart conditions, I have an amazing immune system,never have caught the flu or chicken pox, still have my appendix, tonsils, never strep or an ear infection and have literally been around numerous COVID positive people but have not been infected myself and simply don’t get sick, and looking back I definitely was a bit of a man slut and made some questionable choices…alot of questionable choices with sexual partners and am clean as whistle or maybe as clean as a sterile vacuum packed medical instrument is better than the whistle saying,weird as hell right?) have come to the realization that I will be on some sort of MAT for many years if not the rest of my life and I have come to peace with that. I snort my subs and can honestly say I am sober. My definition of sober is maintaining a lifestyle that includes maintaining valuable and healthy relations, being able to look myself in the mirror each day and not being sickened with shame about some of the dirt I have done, not sticking a needle in my arm 15-20 times a day and all the possible dangers that go along with it,feeling healthy and confident, being able to be in the same room as H or other street opioids and truly being able to say no when offered without a second thought and not being an overall POS that almost all opioid addicts truly become regardless of good intentions. I snort mine simply because I hate the taste, takes less time to take my dose and to start working of course, mentally because I think it helps me stymie off cravings, similar to what needle fixations do. Anyone who reads this, I was a true junkie. I sold to support my habit which was at a ball or more a day or 9 -10 OC 80’s a day (not to mention my coke habit and later speed habit that ran along with my opioid addiction) for over 16 years, not an exagertaion.l, there were times I was in treatment in there but overall I shouldn’t have lived past 24. I’ve cold turkeyed a few times which took me 2-3 months of the sweats insomnia and all the good stuff that comes to prolonged brain chemistry alteration by a substance and don’t see me being able to take the time needed or invest myself (it would financially crush me, probably destroy a few relationships that I’ve finally repaired and I’m honestly terrified at how bad the detox will be, 3-4 days makes me laugh. I literally shit for 3-4 days straight weekly for months last detox and literally slept in the shower with hot water running for almost a month ). Sobriety is not a word that should mean the same to everyone, call someone a punk, means you like the pistols or dead boys but when your in prison and call someone a punk… Assaulted or killed depending on who it’s said to, a fag… Cigarette or homosexual (I don’t think homosexuality is a thing anymore thou, everyone seems to fuck everyone and sometimes everything now a days) but I’m hoping you kind of see my point. If your happy and making healthy choices than in my book your sober. This wasn’t an attack on the writer, it’s actually great to read someone writing honestly (who sounds like they actually have been thru the whole ordeal) and openly about addiction. Just remember one thing, fuck everyone else and their opinions, those who love you and deserve to be in your life will be there when the smoke clears and don’t be afraid of being on a drug that helps you change your life, unless you believe we should shame diabetics for insulin use?

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Adam Fout

I'm an addiction / recovery / mental health blogger and a speculative fiction / nonfiction writer. I have a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Professional and Technical Communication. I'm a graduate of the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop. I'm a regular contributor to Recovery Today Magazine, and I've been featured on numerous recovery podcasts. I have personal experience with addiction and mental health. I have Substance Use Disorder (SUB), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), and Binge Eating Disorder (BED), among others. I have been in numerous drug rehabs, detoxes, and mental institutions, so I understand from personal experience how the mental health system works. I have been published in numerous literary magazines, including December, J Journal, and Flash Fiction Online, among others. I LOVE when readers reach out to me! Always feel free to send me an email at awfout at gmail dot com. I can't wait to hear from you!