Combining medications is a relatively common thing. Some people require various medications to treat physical health conditions, mental illness, and/or addiction disorders. However, in some cases, combining medications can pose severe health risks which can potentially lead to death. It is important that before you are prescribed any new medications that you are honest with your doctor about what medications you are currently taking and if you have experienced any allergies or side-effects.
In this article, we will primarily focus on Suboxone and whether or not it is safe to combine with anxiety medications.
Suboxone is a commonly administered drug that aids in opioid addiction treatment. We at Freedom Now often use Suboxone in our Medication-Assisted Treatment program. This drug is used to help curb any potentially harmful or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms our clients may face as they are going through detoxification. It is not uncommon for many people who struggle with opioid dependence to also suffer from an anxiety or mental health disorder.
Although it is not a traditional treatment for anxiety, there have been studies in the past that have proven successful with treating patients suffering from anxiety disorders with Suboxone. However, treating anxiety with buprenorphine is considered unorthodox and is not currently supported by the FDA.
Suboxone is currently not a drug supported by the FDA to treat anxiety or depression. However, there are many doctors and studies that have shown successful results with Suboxone and mental health treatment, especially in cases where patients were unresponsive to traditional treatments. Yet, in order for Suboxone to be utilized in such a manner, there are many requirements that must be reached for it to even be considered as a form of treatment for anxiety or depression.
Suboxone is not a Benzodiazepine. Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction and contains the active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Both drugs reduce the painful side-effects of opioid withdrawal, curb cravings, and can significantly aid in opioid addiction treatment.
Benzodiazepines (Benzos), such as Xanax, is a drug that depresses the central nervous system and is most commonly used to treat insomnia and anxiety disorders. Benzos are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America. As a treatment for anxiety and depression, Benzos have their own side-effects:
Unlike Suboxone, Benzos have a higher rate of abuse and mistreatment than other prescription drugs. Because of the active ingredients in both of the substances, it is very dangerous to combine them.
Treatments for anxiety and depression while suffering from opioid dependence is rather complicated. Many studies have shown little to no change in results with combined use of antidepressants and anxiety medications during medication-assisted treatment. However, treatments for anxiety and depression should not cease for the sake of Suboxone treatment. If it is advisable to cease the use of Benzos or other forms of anxiety medications, your doctor will help guide your treatment program to fit your individual needs.
In some cases, over-the-counter anxiety medications such as, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), atypical antipsychotic medications (such as Seroquel and AstraZeneca), and certain mood stabilizers can still be used during treatment. However, it is recommended that any medications you may be taking for anxiety or depression be mentioned to your doctor prior to treatment.
Although the list is a bit long, there are over 600 medications that have been found to interact with Suboxone. Some of the most common medications that can cause severe side-effects while taking Suboxone include:
Many of these medications range from moderate to severe drug interactions when combined with Suboxone. Before you take Suboxone, it is best to consult with your doctor and mention any medications you may be taking at the time of your appointment.
When taken individually, the two drugs Xanax and Suboxone are incredibly helpful medications for their prescribed use. One helps relieve the symptoms of severe anxiety while the other helps treat opioid addiction and withdrawal symptoms. However, when the two drugs are combined, there are some potential risks and dangerous side-effects that can potentially be life-threatening. In some cases, if Suboxone and Xanax are used together, it can lead to a depression of the central nervous system that can lead to respiratory failure.
Yet, combining the two medications is fairly common, despite the severe risks. Due to the increased abuse factor with Benzos, continuing anxiety treatment while undergoing treatment for opioid dependence can be detrimental to their long-term recovery. If you are currently taking Xanax or Suboxone, be sure to communicate with your doctor if one or the other is prescribed. In many cases, medication management with a professional can help reduce the risks of overdose or abuse with the two medications.
In 2017 the FDA released an updated form regarding the dangers of withholding opioid dependence treatment from patients taking Benzos stating:
“The combined use of these drugs increases the risk of serious side effects; however, the harm caused by untreated opioid addiction can outweigh these risks. Careful medication management by health care professionals can reduce these risks. We are requiring this information to be added to the buprenorphine and methadone drug labels along with detailed recommendations for minimizing the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) drugs and benzodiazepines together.“
Therefore, it is not recommended for benzodiazepines to be used together with MAT drugs such as Suboxone, but is it not necessary for treatment to be withheld if you are currently taking one or the other. Freedom Now offers expert medication management programs that can help aid with anxiety medications and substance abuse.
At Freedom Now, we seek to improve the lives of every individual who walks through our doors. If you are suffering from addiction and mental health disorders, treatment is still available to you. We at Freedom Now are trained to provide the necessary care and treatment options for your sustained recovery and for your overall health. Call us today to learn more about our Medication-Assisted Treatment programs and how we utilize Suboxone to treat opioid substance abuse.