Can You Take Ibuprofen With Suboxone?


Key Takeaways

  • Ibuprofen is safe to take with Suboxone because it doesn’t contain opioids.
  • Ibuprofen and Suboxone don’t interact since they act on different receptors.
  • Be cautious with combination painkillers that include ibuprofen and opioids.
  • Consult your doctor for alternative pain relief methods while on Suboxone.

Suboxone is an important drug used in medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).

However, it’s sometimes contraindicated to use it concomitantly with several drugs, most of which are painkillers that have an opioid component.

That said, ibuprofen is safe to take with suboxone because it doesn’t contain opioids.

You should be careful when reading drug labels, though, as some pain medications contain ibuprofen alongside an opioid like hydrocodone.

Drugs like Ibudone, Reprexain, and Vicoprofen all belong to this category.

To learn more about types of safe pain medication to use while on suboxone, as well as potential drug interactions, keep reading.

How Safe Is the Ibuprofen-Suboxone Drug Combination?

Taking Suboxone long-term to treat opioid dependence comes with a set of challenges, including potential adverse drug interactions.

However, ibuprofen is a completely safe painkiller to use alongside your Suboxone treatment.

Mixing Suboxone and ibuprofen doesn’t have any known side effects outside of those related to both drugs when taken separately.

That’s because the two drugs don’t act on the same receptors.

This is unlike opioid pain medications which activate the same opioid receptors Suboxone works on, especially those in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

How Does Ibuprofen Work?

Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

These drugs act on certain pain pathways in the body, reducing inflammation in the process, which makes them adequate for mild-to-moderate pain relief.

The pathway that ibuprofen tackles is the release of naturally produced chemicals called prostaglandins.

These chemicals are responsible for immune responses to disease and injury, which cause the body to “overreact” sometimes, resulting in fever, pain, and inflammation.

While ibuprofen sometimes doesn’t work for treating severe pain, it’s highly effective in cases where the person is dealing with a sudden injury or recovering from a simple procedure.

It’s effective for treating pain resulting from dental work, transient joint inflammation, or fever resulting from a bacterial or viral infection.

Is Ibuprofen a Good Substitute for Opioid Painkillers?

In some cases, yes. Drugs with only ibuprofen as the active ingredient are usually over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

They don’t need a prescription and are widely available, making them a good alternative to opioids if you need pain relief without going to the doctor first.

That said, ibuprofen isn’t suitable for use in cases of chronic pain because it causes severe side effects like stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney problems, cardiovascular issues, and worsening of asthma symptoms.

For these cases, there are prescription-strength NSAIDs that can be used long-term with fewer side effects, like meloxicam (known as Mobic)

OTC ibuprofen is also not strong enough for more severe pain cases, like recovering from major surgery or after accidents.

That’s why more potent painkillers, like COX-2 selective inhibitors, are sometimes used.

How Does Suboxone Interact With Opioid Pain Medications?

Suboxone is made of buprenorphine and another drug called naloxone.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it activates opioid receptors but only halfway.

It’s taken to prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms from worsening after stopping drugs of abuse, like heroin or fentanyl, by “tricking” the nervous system into believing it’s getting an opioid dose, albeit much weaker.

The naloxone component in Suboxone is added to prevent misuse by injecting it in the veins.

That’s because naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which blocks opioid receptors and prevents other drugs from binding to them, effectively causing severe withdrawal symptoms as soon as it reaches the bloodstream.

If someone takes an opioid medication, even if it’s a prescription pain reliever, alongside Suboxone, it can lead to an opioid overdose.

Dangerous side effects can occur, like:

  • Trouble breathing: Both Suboxone and opioids can slow down breathing to an alarming rate, which might affect the availability of oxygen to the brain and the body.
  • Increased somnolence (sleepiness): Both types of drugs can cause depression of the central nervous system (CNS), making the person feel sleepy.
  • Loss of consciousness and coma: Since the CNS is depressed and less active, a person might slip into a coma, which, in some cases, can result in death.

Whenever someone is receiving treatment for OUD, their healthcare providers usually ask what their treatment regimen is and prescribe accordingly.

Even if they don’t know you’re being treated for OUD, tell your doctor if you’re taking Suboxone to prevent any potential drug interaction should they prescribe opioid medication for your condition.

How to Relieve Pain if You’re on Suboxone

Certain drug interactions can prevent you from accessing the pain relief you need if you’re on Suboxone for opioid addiction treatment.

In this case, you can try the following pain relief methods after consulting with your doctor:

COX-2–selective inhibitors

This class of drugs works similarly to NSAIDs but with higher potentiality and fewer side effects.

These drugs don’t cause dependence like opioids and can be used for relief of severe pain after surgery.

Topical pain relievers

If the pain you’re dealing with is not internal, you can use other medications that provide relief topically.

Gels, creams, and patches that contain lidocaine, menthol, salicylate, and/or capsaicin can be especially helpful for joint pain.

Non-medication pain relief

Multiple methods of pain relief without taking drugs have been proven helpful and efficient in treating cases of both acute and chronic pain.

These range from physical and occupational therapy to psychotherapy and counseling.

Other non-traditional methods, like hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and meditation, have some anecdotal evidence for how effective they are.


It might sound counter-intuitive, but some doctors prescribe Suboxone itself for pain management.

After all, the main active ingredient, buprenorphine, is a partial opioid agonist that can improve symptoms for people dealing with chronic pain, like other opioids.

Keep in mind that this use for Suboxone is off-label and hasn’t been approved by the FDA yet, so consulting with your doctor is of utmost importance.

Have Any Questions About Your Suboxone Therapy?

Starting Suboxone treatment for opioid use disorder can be daunting, especially with the potential interactions with other medications you need to lead a healthy, pain-free life.

If you have any questions about taking Suboxone with another drug, reach out and book an appointment with one of our certified telemedicine clinicians at Curednation.


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