The Dangers of Mixing Suboxone and Cocaine

The nature of how Suboxone works means that opioid abusers will find it increasingly difficult to get a high from their habitual substance of choice. This sometimes results in those individuals turning to other drugs which is always a bad idea–no matter the type. So, despite Suboxone being a legal pharmaceutical, many adverse drug interactions can arise when combined with other substances. This article will explore the dangers of simultaneous Suboxone and cocaine use, which is surprisingly interconnected. 

Suboxone and Cocaine: Why It’s Dangerous

Suboxone (or to be more precise, the buprenorphine portion of Suboxone), creates a “ceiling effect” that prevents opioid receptors from experiencing the full effect of an opioid. This limits the euphoric sensation those drugs can generate and is one reason why Suboxone can be so effective in breaking the cycle of addiction. 

This same functionality dampens the effects of cocaine as well. It may sound like a positive but this is precisely where the danger of mixing Suboxone and cocaine lies. The minimized effects often lead to individuals taking much higher doses of cocaine than they would have otherwise. This in turn, greatly increases the likelihood of overdosing and death.

How Often Are Suboxone & Cocaine Combined?

The instances of cocaine being used with Suboxone are surprisingly high. Studies found that cocaine use increased tremendously during treatment programs and over 50% of patients were using while receiving buprenorphine treatment. Patients that hadn’t used cocaine previously had now taken it up.

Another disturbing trend regarding Suboxone and cocaine use is that individuals with an opioid addiction who use cocaine during treatment face much lower odds of success. The reason is not a pharmacological one, however. Instead, this indicates a lack of motivation, which is one of the most powerful predictors of successful treatment more. Motivation actually plays an even greater role in recovery than socioeconomic status, demographics, the type of drugs used, family situation, etc. 

What causes patients in rehab to turn to other illicit drugs? 

There are several potential reasons. One is simply a lack of understanding of the nature of addiction. Patients feel that their drug abuse issue only extends to one particular substance; that it’s just one type of drug that they cannot control their compulsions to use. However, countless studies have shown that individuals who struggle with any form of drug addiction have a much higher likelihood of becoming addicted to other types of drugs. They mistakenly believe that they can safely trade one type of drug for another. 

Further, several studies have found that cocaine use, in particular, is strongly influenced by whether or not the individual is undergoing withdrawal. Individuals use a different drug to distract from the discomfort of the substance that’s currently in their system. This short-sighted behavior continues the cycle of debilitating behavior and in many cases, can worsen the withdrawal side effects. 

Another potential reason is that rehab causes them to lose their primary coping mechanism. Stressors can have them scrambling to find anything that can numb the negative emotions they are feeling at the time. This behavior could be linked to depression or some other underlying mental health issue. In such cases, dual diagnosis treatment would be ideal to help address both those and the behavioral issues related to addiction. 

How To Minimize The Temptation

One of the quickest ways to bring out potentially lethal aspects of a drug is to combine it with other drugs, legal or otherwise. Even though Suboxone is a prescription medication, taking it with narcotics like cocaine, physician-prescribed medications, or even legal drugs like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine can be deadly. No matter the type, doing multiple drugs at once is always, always, a bad idea. It can seriously impede on the effectiveness of your addiction treatment, and in worst cases, it can put you in deadly situations.

In the lifelong journey that is recovery, the risk of relapsing or using other drugs will always be present. One way to minimize the temptation to do so is by enrolling in a residential treatment program (also known as intensive addiction treatment). This type of setting provides a controlled environment that would make it difficult to acquire or use other drugs while in rehab and allows you to focus solely on recovery. 

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