Is It Safe to Mix Suboxone and Xanax?

MastHead Outline
January 30, 2018

Managing multiple prescriptions at the same time is not uncommon. For instance, you may need one medication for anxiety and another to treat high cholesterol. It is important to be honest with your doctors about the medications you are taking during each visit, as the interaction between some medications can be significant. This is especially true when considering treatment involving medications like Suboxone and Xanax, where understanding their interactions is crucial for safe use.

Maintaining open communication between doctor and patient is essential, especially when considering treatment for opioid addiction. If you or a loved one are currently taking Xanax or another benzodiazepine, it’s crucial to inform your treatment medical provider. Understanding the implications of using medications like Suboxone and Xanax together is key to ensuring your safety and the effectiveness of your treatment plan.

Various prescription medications, featuring Suboxone and Xanax scattered across a table.

What is Xanax? 

Xanax is the brand name of a prescription drug called a benzodiazepine, sometimes referred to as “benzos.” 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 benzodiazepines helpful in treating anxiety and sleep disorders. 

Xanax is a prescribed benzodiazepine used to help those who suffer from moderate to severe anxiety and panic attacks. It can also treat mild to moderate depression. Physicians use different dosage levels depending on an individual’s needs. 

When taking a medicine like Xanax, it is essential for your physician to monitor symptoms and progress closely. This will ensure that the medication is working effectively. Because of its high potential for misuse, patients must be responsible and follow instructions as given by their physician. 

What is Suboxone? 

Suboxone is a prescribed medication used to treat opioid addiction. It contains a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine. These two drugs help to reduce withdrawal symptoms and 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. It’s effective for treating opioid dependence in a private office-based setting. 

Patients taking Suboxone can live a more productive life while their body lessens its dependence on opioids. Medical providers closely monitor a patient’s progress and help find the appropriate dosage along the way. 

Mixing Suboxone and Xanax 

When taken individually, both Xanax and Suboxone are effective medications. One helps calm the mind from anxiety disorders, and the other is very beneficial in helping individuals 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. This factor puts those with substance use disorder at risk, even with a legitimate prescription for the medication.  

The combination of Suboxone and Xanax is not recommendable. It can result in serious health effects, including death. If prescribed either medication by a provider, patients must be honest about already using the other. It is also important to ask the pharmacist about potential drug interactions with any other medications currently in use. Misuse of either substance comes with risks that can cause harm. 

A woman holding a glass of water and a pill, symbolizing treatments like Suboxone and Xanax. The image reflects the serious nature of managing medications in recovery.

Can You Take Xanax While on Suboxone? 

In short, yes — but only in extreme circumstances under strict supervision. Medical providers are aware of the dangers of mixing drugs simultaneously, so they actively avoid prescribing them together. After all, benzodiazepines are not the only medications that effectively treat anxiety.  

One study showed that participants are slightly more likely to continue treatment when taking both drugs than Suboxone alone. While that means less of a chance for relapse, there’s another risk involved. The same study showed taking both medications can make a person three times more likely to die of an overdose. Also, they are two times more likely to die in other situations, probably due to the respiratory issues this drug combination can 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, calculated risks may be involved. Noting the ineffectiveness of other medications or the extremely high risk of treatment deviance, a doctor may prescribe both medicines. This can 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 benzodiazepines can be very effective in treating anxiety, there are other options while you’re taking Suboxone. 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 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. Psychotherapy is beneficial for anxiety, as it allows patients 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.

A man listens to a counselor during a session, possibly discussing the interactions between Suboxone and Xanax.

Does Suboxone Help With Xanax Withdrawal? 

Your provider may prescribe you Suboxone to help you through benzodiazepine or Xanax withdrawal. Since Xanax is a fast-acting drug that leaves your system quickly, the risks of overdose or misuse become reduced. 

If you continue taking Suboxone throughout your recovery, you must work 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 and help you on the road to recovery. We’ll support you to ensure that your medications are managed safely.

Contact AppleGate Recovery for Help Today

If you or someone you know is living with opioid addiction and taking Xanax, AppleGate Recovery can help guide your journey to recovery through evidence-based practices. We understand drug interactions and how to personalize a treatment plan that’s safest for you. Give us a call or message us to get started today.