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Does Subutex make you sleepy?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on May 12, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

Yes, Subutex (buprenorphine) can make you sleepy. Subutex can cause drowsiness and slow reaction times, particularly during the first weeks of treatment.

For this reason, you shouldn’t drive, operate heavy machinery or perform other dangerous tasks until you know how the medication affects you. Drinking alcohol or taking sedative drugs along with Subutex can also increase drowsiness.

Subutex is a prescription medicine used to treat adults who are addicted to opioid drugs as part of a complete treatment program that includes counseling and behavioral therapy. While it is safe and effective if used as directed, Subutex, like all drugs, can have side effects.

Subutex can interact with other medicines. Your doctor can tell you which medicines are safe to take with Subutex.

  • You’ll need to be cautious about taking Subutex along with other medicines that can make you sleepy, including pain medications, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anxiety medications or antihistamines.
  • You shouldn’t drink alcohol while using Subutex, because this combination can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.

Some other common side effects of Subutex include:

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Pain
  • Withdrawal syndrome

More serious side effects of Subutex may include:

  • Respiratory distress, which can lead to coma or death
  • Sleepiness, dizziness and problems with coordination
  • Liver problems
  • Allergic reaction
  • Lowered blood pressure, which can cause dizziness if you get up quickly
  • Dependence or abuse
  • Withdrawal symptoms

It’s important that you follow certain safety precautions when taking Subutex:

  • Don’t take other medications without first consulting your doctor.
  • Don’t use illegal drugs or any other medications that can slow breathing.
  • Make sure that your doctor monitors any liver-related health issues.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • Don’t share Subutex with anyone, even if they have similar conditions.
  • Prevent children or pets from accidentally ingesting the medicine by storing it safely.

The active ingredient in Subutex is buprenorphine, and it is taken in the form of a sublingual tablet. You place the tablets under the tongue and let them dissolve completely.

Buprenorphine is what’s known as a partial opioid agonist. At low to moderate doses, it produces a “high” feeling and slows breathing, similar to the effects of opioids. However, the effects buprenorphine produces are weaker than those experienced with full opioid agonists, which includes drugs such as methadone and heroin.

When used as directed by your doctor, Subutex diminishes the effects of physical dependence to opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and lowers the potential for misuse since it competes with the brain receptors that take up opioid drugs and blocks their effects.

References
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medication Guide: Subutex (buprenorphine) sublingual tablet. December 2011. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/020732s006s007mg.pdf. [Accessed April 20, 2021].
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Buprenorphine. March 12, 2021. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine. [Accessed April 20, 2021].
  3. University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Integrated Primary Care. Fact Sheet: Buprenorphine. Available at: https://www.umassmed.edu/globalassets/center-for-integrated-primary-care/amber/final-fact-sheet-on-buprenorphine-final.pdf. [Accessed April 20, 2021].

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