Dangerous Combination: Suboxone® and Xanax®

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January 30, 2018

It is not uncommon to take different prescriptions at the same time. You may have anxiety that needs to be treated with one medication, a stomach problem that requires another, and high cholesterol that can be lowered with this other pill. It is important to be honest with your doctors on what other medicines you are taking, since some medicines do not react well with each other. If you or a loved one are considering treatment for pain pill or heroin addiction, it is important to be upfront on what you are taking, especially if you are taking Xanax® or another benzodiazepine.

What is Xanax®?

Xanax® is a brand name of a medicine called a benzodiazepine. This medication is a central nervous system depressant which is in a medical category that includes tranquilizers, sedatives, and hypnotics. All of these are substances that can slow brain activity and produce a calming effect. This makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep disorders.

Xanax®, a well-known benzodiazepine, is a prescribed medication that is used to help those who suffer from moderate to severe anxiety and panic attacks. It can also be used to treat moderate depression. There are different dosage levels depending on the individual’s needs.

When taking a medicine like Xanax®, it is important for the physician to closely monitor the patient’s symptoms and progress in order for them to get the most relief they can. Because of its potential for abuse, patients must be responsible and follow instructions as given by the physician.

What is Suboxone®?

Suboxone® is a prescribed medication used to treat opioid addiction. It contains a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine and is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings in those recovering from an addiction to opioids. Suboxone® was the first opioid medication to receive approval under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) of 2000 for treating opioid dependence in a private office-based setting.

Patients taking Suboxone® can live a more productive life and learn how to not be dependent on pain pills and/or heroin. Physicians closely monitor a patient’s progress and help find the appropriate dosage.

Combining Suboxone® and Xanax®

When taken individually, both Xanax® and Suboxone® are effective medications. One is helpful in calming the mind of someone struggling with anxiety, and the other is extremely beneficial in helping one recover from addiction. However, when the two drugs are combined, the results can be devastating. Xanax®, a benzodiazepine, and Suboxone®, a form of buprenorphine, can be deadly together. 

Xanax® and Suboxone® together might create a central nervous system depression that could result in respiratory failure. Other side effects may occur as well, such as slurred speech, extreme drowsiness, loss of consciousness or coma. Unfortunately, combining Suboxone® and Xanax® is common despite the severity of the risk involved. 

Benzodiazepines in general are considered to have a high potential for misuse, putting those with substance misuse issues at serious risk, even if they are given a legitimate prescription for the medication. In turn, those who are prescribed Suboxone® are wanting to treat their substance abuse, as the drug is used to treat opioid addiction. 

The combination of Suboxone® and Xanax® is one that must be avoided, as it can result in serious health effects, including death. If prescribed either medication by a doctor, the patient must be honest regarding the fact that they are already using the other. It is also important to ask the pharmacist about potential drug interactions with any other medications you are currently taking. Misuse of either substance comes with risks that should be avoided.

Can You Take Xanax® While on Suboxone®?

Can You Take Xanax® While on Suboxone®?

In short, yes — but only in extreme circumstances under strict supervision. Medical professionals are well aware of the dangers of taking these medications simultaneously, so they do everything they can to avoid prescribing them together. 

A study completed by the Recovery Research Institute showed that combining these drugs could make a participant slightly more likely to continue their treatment plan than with Suboxone® alone, meaning less chance for relapse. But, this same study showed taking these medications at the same time can make a person three times more likely to die of an overdose, and two times more likely to die in other situations, probably due to the respiratory issues this drug combination is known to cause.

Keeping the study in mind, this combination of drugs is not suitable for the vast majority of users. However, in cases of extreme anxiety, noted the ineffectiveness of other medications or extremely high risk of treatment deviance, a doctor may prescribe both medications to give someone a better chance of recovering from addiction and feeling less affected by their anxiety.

What Anxiety Medication Is Safe to Take With Suboxone®?

While experts will keep you from using benzodiazepines while you’re taking Suboxone®, that does not mean you’re on your own regarding medication treatment. Instead, your provider will look into alternative treatment methods like:

  • SSRIs or SNRIs: These are Selective Serotonin (and Norepinephrine) Reuptake Inhibitors, more commonly known as antidepressants. These medications affect the brain chemistry involved with mood regulation to help people dealing with depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, pain disorders and more. 
  • Non-medication assistance: Even after prescribing medication, your provider may suggest other forms of treatment that enhance your medication. One such suggestion might be to try a few sessions with a cognitive-behavioral therapist. Talk therapy is particularly well suited to people dealing with anxiety, as it allows them to talk through their concerns in a safe space.

in some cases, these options have proven to work as well or even better in place of benzodiazepines. They may help you manage your mental health without endangering your physical health. 

Does Suboxone® Help With Xanax® Withdrawal?

If you’re dealing with an addiction to Xanax® or another benzodiazepine to the point of needing treatment, your provider may prescribe you Suboxone® to help you through withdrawal. Since Xanax® is a fast-acting drug that leaves your system quickly, the risks of overdose or misuse are greatly reduced.

If you continue with Suboxone® throughout your recovery, it’s especially important that you try to avoid relapsing. The providers at AppleGate Recovery understand it happens, and we want you to let us know right away. We’re not here to judge you but to listen to why you relapsed and help keep you from being in the same situation. We’ll help you get through detox again and ensure your medications do not cause life-threatening challenges.

Contact AppleGate Recovery Today for Help

When you need treatment for any kind of addiction, including Xanax® dependence, work with a recovery center that understands drug interactions and how to personalize a treatment plan that’s safest for you. AppleGate Recovery is excited to start working with you today.

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