Suboxone is a kind of medication that has been approved for the treatment of opioid dependence. This method of addiction recovery is known as “medication-assisted treatment”.
Though it’s been known to help treat addiction to opioids like heroin or pain pills, suboxone is also addictive if someone abuses or misuses it.
Though suboxone has been termed a “game-changer” for those who struggle with heroin addiction, some people end up getting off heroin only to become addicted to suboxone.
There’s debate as to whether one drug should be used to get off of another drug, but the general consensus is that suboxone is much safer than heroin.
If you’ve become addicted to suboxone, you may wonder what the withdrawal process will be like when you come off of it. You may wonder how long suboxone withdrawal will last.
You may also be anxious about the process, but rest assured that it’s not as complicated as you may think. And, if you choose a qualified medical detox center, you will likely undergo a safe detox with minimal symptoms.
When you begin detoxing from suboxone, your body will be trying to adjust to life without the drug. The brain will be a bit out of balance, working hard at getting back to a balanced state. Remember that detox is simply your body getting the toxins associated with the drug out of your body. It might take a little bit of time and you may feel uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, but this is necessary in order for you to get free from suboxone addiction.
The following are common suboxone withdrawal symptoms:
Suboxone is what is called a “long-acting” drug. This means that it stays in your system longer than some of the other opioids. Because of this, some withdrawal symptoms may linger, but rest assured that you don’t feel all the withdrawal symptoms all at once. Rather, they come in different stages depending on various factors like:
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You may start to feel some flu-like symptoms within 12 hours of the last dose of the drug. Days 2 and 3 may be tougher than day 1, with symptoms increasing in intensity. Keep in mind that if you undergo a medical detox, staff can administer medications that will take the edge off these uncomfortable symptoms. In this stage, you may experience symptoms like headache, body aches, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.
You may begin to encounter some psychological withdrawal symptoms during this stage such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, agitation, and perhaps some insomnia and appetite loss. You may still feel some fatigue and cravings as well, so be sure to have a solid support network to encourage you to keep going.
You may notice some withdrawal symptoms decreasing in intensity or disappearing entirely during the second week. Some report lingering symptoms of fatigue, trouble sleeping, depression, or restlessness.
Many report by the time week 3 comes along, the physical symptoms have subsided. However, some report that the cravings for suboxone are still there, as the brain is still trying to adjust to life without the drug. It’s important to have continued treatment beyond this initial detox phase so a relapse does not occur. Additionally, undergoing a medical detox gives you the chance to be assessed for any underlying mental health issues that may be going on such as anxiety or depression.
Those that try to get off suboxone on their own usually have a poor success rate. Additionally, it is dangerous to stop taking suboxone cold turkey or abruptly at home. Therefore, a medical detox at a detox or treatment center is recommended.
The time frame for detox usually lasts between 5 and 7 days, during which you will receive around-the-clock medical supervision.
Medical professionals will usually taper off an individual slowly over time to minimize the withdrawal symptoms. This is done by administering a dosage and then decreasing it a certain percentage over a period of time until you’re off the drug completely.
The taper schedule will be determined by substance abuse professionals based on various factors like severity of addiction, health condition, support system, and whether or not other co-occurring mental health issues are present. Usually, getting completely off suboxone can be done in as little as a week or two under medical supervision.
Detoxing from suboxone is simply the first step toward long-term treatment. The next step, depending on the level of care needed, would be to enter a residential, outpatient, or intensive outpatient program (IOP). Each treatment modality can be effective for suboxone addiction treatment, as they continue to treat the addiction and offer tools for staying off suboxone and any other drugs long-term.
Residential treatment is a type of treatment where you receive around-the-clock care while you live at the facility. You receive care from medical and psychiatric professionals who treat the addiction, as well as any mental health issues that may be serving as the root of the addiction, such as anxiety or depression. Residential treatment works well for those who are able to leave home and live at the facility for anywhere from 30 to 90 days. For moderate to severe addictions, residential treatment is recommended.
Outpatient treatment is great for those who aren’t able to move to the treatment center for the duration of treatment. Most commonly, people commit to attending between 3 and 5 sessions per week at the local facility. The number of sessions may depend on how long a person has used suboxone, the level of addiction, treatment history, and individual preference.
IOP provides a level of care between residential and outpatient treatment. This is a great option for those who are discharged from residential care and still desire a fairly intensive and supportive environment to continue treatment. Oftentimes, individuals spend more than 12 hours a week at IOP in individual and group sessions.
Addiction is a treatable disease. Suboxone addiction does not have to keep you from living the kind of life you truly desire. If you’re struggling with addiction to suboxone or any other opioid, please give us a call and allow us to help you get the treatment you want and need. We can assess your unique situation and direct you to the best type of treatment facility for you.
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Psych Central. (2018, October 8). How Is Suboxone Treatment Different than Drug Abuse? Stuckert, J. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-is-suboxone-treatment-different-than-drug-abuse/
Everyday Health. (2019, October 14) What is Suboxone? Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/suboxone
SAMHSA. Buprenorphine. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine