Mixing Suboxone and Alcohol

Suboxone pills spilling out of a prescription bottle next to a glass of alcohol

Suboxone and alcohol should never be taken together because the mixture can lead to serious harm or death.

Suboxone is a drug containing the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone is specially formulated to treat opioid dependence.

Suboxone is typically dispensed through an opioid treatment program, so anyone using the drug is likely to already be in treatment. The use of Suboxone outside of a treatment program is considered abuse because the drug’s only approved use is for the treatment of opioid dependence.

Therefore, mixing Suboxone and alcohol is considered drug abuse because there is no medical situation where doing is appropriate.

Why Do People Mix Suboxone and Alcohol?

Mixing drugs and alcohol is never a good idea because the combination can affect people in unexpected ways. Suboxone and alcohol abuse is uncommon because an ingredient in Suboxone, naloxone, blunts the pleasurable effects of alcohol. Additionally, people in opioid dependence programs usually sign an agreement forbidding them from using alcohol and other addictive substances.

Suboxone is abused by people outside of opioid treatment programs who may try to mix Suboxone with alcohol thinking it will enhance the effects of the substances. However, this is a mistaken belief. The presence of naloxone will make drinking alcohol uncomfortable and dangerous.

The chances of taking Suboxone and alcohol together by mistake are low since Suboxone prescriptions come with specific advisement on how to consume the drug.

Effects of Combining Alcohol and Suboxone

Side effects of combining Suboxone and alcohol include:

  • CNS depression
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired motor control
  • Increased risk for overdose
  • Liver damage
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual behavior

Buprenorphine, one of the active ingredients in Suboxone, is an opioid so it has CNS depressant effects. Alcohol also creates CNS depression. Combining alcohol and buprenorphine increases the associated side effects of CNS depression.

A unique consequence of Suboxone is that is may cause people to drink more alcohol unintentionally. The naloxone in Suboxone blunts the pleasurable effects of alcohol. People intending to abuse the substances may drink more alcohol in an attempt to counter that negation. This excessive intake significantly increases the chances of overdose or other harmful effects.

Risks of Mixing Suboxone and Alcohol

The most serious consequence of mixing Suboxone and alcohol is the risk of overdose and death.

Symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Slowed breathing or heartbeat
  • Face or skin becoming pale
  • Fingernails or lips turning blue or purple
  • Being unable to wake or speak
  • Vomiting or making gurgling noises
  • Cold or clammy skin

An overdose is a medical emergency. The most common way someone dies from an overdose is if they stop breathing. If an overdose is suspected, call 911 immediately.

The effects of Suboxone can be reversed with naloxone, but it will not counter the effects of alcohol. Because of the alcohol, the person may require supportive care in the hospital for several days.

Most opioid dependence programs will have people sign a contract indicating they will not use intoxicating substances like alcohol and other drugs when using Suboxone. Beyond the mentioned risks, drinking alcohol while taking Suboxone is likely to contribute to a setback in sobriety.

Treatment for Suboxone and Alcohol Addiction

Anyone enrolled in an opioid dependence program should take steps to avoid alcohol consumption. For those abusing Suboxone and alcohol outside of a treatment program, help is available. Treatment will begin with medical detox, proceed to rehabilitation treatment and then continue with maintenance or aftercare.

Substance use disorder is a treatable condition, and the professionals at The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can address suboxone and alcohol use or any other type of substance use disorder. You deserve a healthier future, call today.

Food and Drug Administration. “Suboxone Prescribing Information.” 2002. Accessed August 23, 2019.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Harmful Interactions.” 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.

MedlinePlus. “Opioid Overdose.” August 27, 2018. Accessed August 23, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.