Mixing buprenorphine with alcohol
Buprenorphine is an opioid used as a painkiller and can be found in the medications Buprenex and Butrans. Buprenorphine is also used to treat opioid addiction and is one of the main active ingredients in the brand name medications Subutex and Suboxone. So when you’ve been prescribed buprenorphine, is it OK to drink at the same time?
As with other opioids, mixing buprenorphine with alcohol can have some dangerous side effects. In fact, buprenorphine stays in your system for at least a few days after ingestion. We discuss the effects of mixing alcohol and buprenorphine below. Then, if you have any questions about these two depressant drugs, please leave them in the comment section and we’ll try to respond to you promptly.
Buprenorphine and alcohol effects
Like other opioids, buprenorphine produces a sense of euphoria, slows down respiration, and sedates the user. These effects are consistent with other opioids and recently recreational use of buprenorphine is on the rise. Alcohol can increase the euphoric feelings. But what happens when you mix buprenorphine and alcohol together?
When more than one central nervous system depressant is taken at one time, the effects of both are compounded. This is the case with combining alcohol with buprenorphine, and it can have many negative side effects, including death.
Dangers of mixing buprenorphine and alcohol
Since both buprenorphine and alcohol depress the central nervous system, taking them simultaneously increases the depressive effects of both substances. Combining these two can lead to:
- severe respiratory depression (slowed and/or difficult breathing)
- slowed heart rate
Buprenorphine and alcohol overdose
Buprenorphine is currently classified in the United States as a Schedule III controlled substance. Though it has the potential to be addictive, medical professionals can still prescribe it for specific uses. But snorting or injecting buprenorphine increases the potential for overdose. Taking buprenorphine with alcohol can greatly increase the risk of buprenorphine poisoning. In a scientific study on people who have died of buprenorphine poisoning, most blood concentrations of the medication were in therapeutic range. In other words, mixing alcohol and buprenorphine can still lead to death even without exceeding medical dosage.
Buprenorphine and alcohol deaths
One of the reasons a medical professional may prescribe buprenorphine is to treat opioid addiction. However, buprenorphine itself is an opioid and a narcotic. Some other narcotics cause greater respiratory depression than buprenorphine. However, combining this substance with other substances that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol, can lead to death.
Is it safe to drink on buprenorphine?
No, it is not safe to drink while taking buprenorphine or any other opioid either recreationally or for approved medical purposes. The combination of these two depressant substances can lead to death. If you have a prescription for buprenorphine, please use it as directed and consult your doctor if you have any questions about drug interactions.
Mixing buprenorphine alcohol questions
If you would like to ask any questions about mixing buprenorphine and alcohol, we invite you to post a comment in the section below. We respond to all legitimate queries personally and promptly.
Reference Sources: DEA: Buprenorphine
NIAAA: Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines
Photo credit: NIDA for Teens