You had a wild phase when you were younger, experimenting with opioids to cope with – at the time – undiagnosed anxiety. There were times when you were lucky to make it through the night, and your mom had to make the call more than once for help with accidental overdoses. She helped you get into treatment and turn your life around, something you will always be grateful for.
As part of your treatment, you take Suboxone daily and meet with a therapist every week. The treatment has been going very well, but you notice some of your anxiety symptoms making a return. You practice your coping skills but are still having a hard time managing when anxiety attacks come on. Is there a medication you can take to help with this? Maybe you could suggest Xanax® (alprazolam) to your doctor. Can you take Xanax® (alprazolam) and Suboxone at the same time?
In Quarter 4 of 2019, 38,000 Tennessee residents received Suboxone prescriptions. ReVIDA® Recovery understands how helpful medication-assisted treatment can be for those recovering from an opioid use disorder. With multiple locations throughout the Appalachian area, we have created an ease of access to Suboxone and addiction treatment. Our team of dedicated professionals will guide you through treatment and keep you informed on what medications you can take while receiving Suboxone treatment. So, can you take Xanax® (alprazolam) and Suboxone together? Let’s take a look into this further.
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What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a prescription medication that is a treatment option for opioid use disorder. As part of a complete program including therapy and coping skill classes, Suboxone can be the difference in preventing a return to use. Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist through buprenorphine, and activates some of the opioid receptors within the brain. However, they do not produce the same effects as full opioid agonists such as heroin or fentanyl. Suboxone also contains naloxone which is an opioid antagonist. This makes Suboxone not able to be misused, as the naloxone will counter the effects of the buprenorphine.
What Is Xanax® (Alprazolam)?
Xanax® (alprazolam) is a prescription medication commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is classified as a benzodiazepine which means it affects the central nervous system to produce a calming effect. Xanax® (alprazolam) does pose the risk of dependence and should always be taken under a doctor’s orders. If you are at higher risk for developing dependence, talk with your doctor before taking Xanax® (alprazolam). They will be able to help guide you on better options and how to help manage your anxiety.
Xanax® (Alprazolam) vs. Suboxone
Xanax® (alprazolam) and Suboxone do not treat the same conditions, but they can have similar effects. Suboxone can help calm the person taking it by activating opioid receptors. Xanax® (alprazolam) creates calming effects by increasing the neurotransmitter GABA. Both medications have benefits, but Xanax® (alprazolam) is not prescribed to treat opioid use disorder, and Suboxone is not prescribed to treat anxiety.
Can You Take Suboxone With Xanax® (Alprazolam)?
It is not recommended to take Suboxone and Xanax® (alprazolam) at the same time. By combining the two medications, the risk of extreme sedation and coma increases. Breathing problems can cause slowed or stopped breathing, leading to hypoxia. When hypoxia occurs, oxygen does not reach vital organs, and permanent damage can occur. The brain, heart, and lungs are most likely to experience damage, and this can be irreversible. In some cases, mixing Suboxone and Xanax® (alprazolam) can lead to death.
Side Effects of Suboxone With Xanax® (alprazolam)
Suboxone and Xanax® (alprazolam) have their own side effects. Suboxone side effects include:
- Gastric problems such as constipation or diarrhea
- Redness of the mouth or a burning sensation
When a dose of Suboxone is missed, opioid withdrawal may begin. These symptoms include muscle aches, body pain, abdominal cramping, and rapid heart rate. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, but are usually not life-threatening and will pass once the dose is resumed.
Xanax® (alprazolam) also has its own set of side effects. These include:
- Difficulty remembering events
- Coordination troubles
When both medications are taken together, side effects from either can become amplified. Confusion and impaired coordination can cause injuries from falls. The person may engage in behaviors they wouldn’t normally do, such as reckless driving or unprotected sex with multiple partners. If both Suboxone and Xanax® (alprazolam) are taken accidentally, seek medical attention to be safe.
Dangers of Misusing Both Suboxone and Xanax® (Alprazolam)
As we discussed above, mixing Suboxone and Xanax® (alprazolam) can lead to serious consequences. Damage to the body may be permanent, and for organs like the brain and heart, there is no magic cure to fix it. The brain is responsible for life, and when it is deprived of oxygen for too long, the results can be catastrophic. Coma and even death can occur from misusing Suboxone and Xanax® (alprazolam). Always consult with a doctor if you are thinking about starting a new medication.
Healthier Approaches for Managing Anxiety While Taking Suboxone
One of the healthiest approaches to anxiety management is practicing healthy coping skills. These can include grounding techniques, meditation, exercise, breathing exercises, mindfulness, and support groups. Even adjusting your diet and avoiding caffeine can show a reduction in anxiety symptoms. Also, becoming your own health advocate can help manage anxiety symptoms. Keep a journal of days where symptoms are at a high, and note the similarities in activities or food consumed. This will give you a better idea of your triggers and help you recognize and address them.
Some antidepressants are used to treat anxiety. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed for depression, but some help with mood disorders and anxiety. These can be safe to take with Suboxone as long as they do not cause sedation effects. Your doctor will be able to suggest safe medications to try for anxiety while you are taking Suboxone.
There is research being conducted that buprenorphine in Suboxone can provide relief of anxiety symptoms. The study was small, and more research would need to be conducted to verify the proof behind this statement. Still, taking Suboxone may already be treating anxiety symptoms in those with generalized anxiety disorder.
Learn More About Suboxone Treatment in Appalachia
Finding a treatment for opioid use disorder that works for you can be a lifesaver, but trying to navigate what you can and cannot take can seem exhausting. The good news is that it is possible to treat both conditions at the same time. A trusted medical professional will be able to work with you and help you find medications and coping skill techniques that work best for your unique situation.
Not everyone will need medication, and not everyone will be able to rely solely on coping skills. This is where having a dedicated treatment team comes in to help answer the tough questions and keep you safe. Suboxone treatment is a valuable tool in treating opioid use disorder, and knowing you have people in your corner ready to help is key to preventing a return to use.
If you or someone you love is living with an opioid use disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team is here to help you reclaim your life in a safe and supportive environment. We can address your concerns with mental health as well, and we can recommend ways for you to manage your anxiety while taking Suboxone.
ReVIDA® Recovery understands the stigmas surrounding medication-assisted treatment, but we know firsthand what a valuable and effective tool it really is. Together, we will create a plan that achieves your recovery needs and goals. Call us today at 423-631-0432 to schedule an appointment at any of our Tennessee or Virginia locations. Same-day appointments are also available.