Can Suboxone kill you?

Yes, Suboxone can kill you in certain situations, like when you mix Suboxone with other respiratory depressants, most often benzodiazepines like alprazolam or clonazepam. More on risks of Suboxone use and abuse inside.

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Yes, Suboxone can kill you in certain situations.  However, danger of death depends upon exposure to and tolerance to opiates/opioids as well as whether or not Suboxone has been mixed with other substances. More here, with an invitation for your questions about Suboxone addictiveness or Suboxone as a narcotic at the end.

Can Suboxone harm you?

In most cases, buprenorphine is not potent enough to cause respiratory arrest and death. And generally, buprenorphine is far safer than opioid agonists like oxycodone, or illicit opioids like heroin, because of the ‘ceiling effect’.

But when buprenorphine is combined with other respiratory depressants in people who lack tolerance to those substances, the combination can cause a person to stop breathing. In these cases, death occurs within minutes without medical intervention. Further, death from buprenorphine requires no or low tolerance to opioids, and combination with other respiratory depressants — most often benzodiazepines like alprazolam or clonazepam.

Death related to Suboxone

Deaths related to buprenorphine are relatively rare; about 400 buprenorphine-related deaths in the US over the past ten years, compared to over 300,000 non-buprenorphine drug overdose deaths in the same period of time.

Still, the potential for danger depends on the tolerance of the person taking buprenorphine. People who regularly use large amounts of opioids often have a tolerance that is higher than the maximum effect of buprenorphine. In those cases, buprenorphine will act as an opioid blocker, and cause withdrawal symptoms.

About the author
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, MD, PhD is a psychiatrist practicing in northeast Wisconsin, in recovery from opioid dependence. He is Board Certified in both Psychiatry and Anesthesiology and holds a PhD in Neuroscience. He writes about buprenorphine at Suboxone Talk Zone, and manages a forum for patients taking buprenorphine called SuboxForum.
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