Check out this study, conducted recently at Columbia University, which seems to suggest that a formulation containing bupe and naloxone (Suboxone) has significantly less abuse potential than a formulation containing only buprenorphine.
The statistics are impressive. Bupe and naloxone was self-administered less often than just bupe (p<.0005). Even more interestingly, subjective feelings of "drug liking" and "desire to take the drug again" were significantly higher for the bupe-only formulation (p<.0001). It was conducted in a randomized, double-blind setting, and used placebo doses, which minimizes the likelihood that the results were effected by expectations or by a "placebo effect".
Along with (I assume) most of the regular members here, I have long heard rumors that Subutex (especially small IV doses) is more euphoric than Suboxone. I have heard that the effects are more typical of a mu-agonist, with some people even reporting a very mild rush.
I have also read fairly convincing posts from seemingly credible posters, who have found that by removing the naloxone from Suboxone, they increase its perceived "potency" significantly. This can be done by dissolving the Suboxone in alcohol, allowing the naloxone to fall out of solution and settle, since it isn't soluble in alcohol, and then transferring the solution to a new container, where it is evaporated, leaving only bupe, and re-dissolved in water for administration.
Now, personally, having a seemingly solid understanding of buprenorphine's unique pharmacology, have always assumed that the naloxone could not have any effect. A search of the literature will typically reveal that a .3 mg IV dose of buprenorphine has an equipotent mu-antagonistic effect of anywhere from .8 - 2.0 mg of naloxone. This lead me to believe that, considering the large bupe:naloxone ratio in the Suboxone, the naloxone should have no appreciable effect (except when injected into an individual with full agonists onboard - unfortunately I have experienced this).
However, this peer-reviewed study conducted by a very respectable institution with a history of substance abuse research has caused me to have second thoughts. Maybe the naloxone actually does in some way effect the subjective effects of the bupe. Maybe the rumors about subutex being more abusable hold some truth. I have read other studies which suggest that non-tolerant heroin users couldn't distinguish between IM shots of heroin and buprenorphine. And I know a few people who have told me that they get a much better "buzz" from subutex.
Having rung the gamut of opiates myself, everything from popping vicodin to injecting heroin/hydromorphone/etc, I have to say that injecting bupe is so much different. There is no "rush" whatsoever, and it doesn't seem to take effect for 10 minutes or so (excluding the times I have been forced into precipitated withdrawals within seconds). There is no euphoria whatsoever, I only notice that after a little while I feel "well", my cravings disappear, and any withdrawal symptoms disappear. Why is this? What is the mechanism behind its slow onset and relative lack of euphoria?
Is bupe, by nature, non-euphoric? Or is the naloxone in Suboxone really exerting an effect on the way it is perceived by people who attempt to use it to get high? Anyone have any experience using subutex/buprenex recreationally with any success?