Suboxone, an altered form of buprenorphine, is a semisynthetic medication used to treat heroin or opioid painkiller addiction. Suboxone is taken to relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and is also used in place of other opioids.
It is a partial opioid antagonist, meaning it attaches to and activates receptors in the brain to a lesser degree than full agonists. This means that it is not as addictive as other opioids and does not create a “high.” However, that does not mean users cannot form a dependence on the drug, leading to Suboxone withdrawal if stopped suddenly.
Suboxone also contains naloxone, which blocks the high from other opioids and reverses an overdose caused by these drugs. Suboxone can be found in pill form or as a sublingual film. This drug does have a high potential for abuse and dependence, especially in individuals who carry addictive traits. This does not negate the risk of abuse in others. Although Suboxone is designed to reduce the risk of abuse, it can be injected, which is extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal.
Although Suboxone is used to treat opioid withdrawal, long-term Suboxone use can lead to an even more severe withdrawal than that of other opioids. Suboxone is highly effective; however, it is highly addictive, and its users become tolerant and dependent on the drug rather quickly.
This drug is prescribed to those attempting to come off other opioids, so it is likely for these individuals to become addicted to Suboxone due to its effects and their predisposition to addiction. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms vary in severity depending on how long the drug is used and the amount the individual is using. Also, if an individual starts taking this medication to quit other substances, the withdrawal will be prolonged and more intense.
Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of other opioids and consist of:
Since Suboxone is mostly used to combat withdrawal symptoms of other drugs, such as heroin, it is important for the individual taking it to be in full withdrawal. The reason for this is Suboxone use can bring on precipitated withdrawals.
Suboxone stays in the body for a relatively long time, making the peak period of withdrawal around 72 hours. Within the first few days of withdrawal, an individual might feel sick and uncomfortable. They may have a runny nose and flu-like symptoms. They also might have trouble falling asleep. These symptoms gradually worsen and peak at 72 hours after the last Suboxone dose.
During acute withdrawals, the user will experience the physical symptoms above as well as psychological symptoms such as:
The physical symptoms of withdrawal typically last between one to 11 days. The mental aspect of Suboxone withdrawal is also considered a symptom of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS can last anywhere upward of three months after the last dose, depending on the individual and how long they have used Suboxone. This includes intense cravings, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and general discomfort as the body and mind attempt to cope without the drug.
During the PAWS period, an individual once addicted to Suboxone will slowly return to normalcy. They will begin to feel, sleep, and think normally during this process without the use of Suboxone or other drugs. Since Suboxone is most commonly used to detox individuals off other substances, detoxing from Suboxone at home or even in a medical facility can be challenging. Successfully detoxing from Suboxone requires professional help as well as the determination of the individual who is trying to stop.
Ready to get Help?
Talk to a treatment expert
Although detoxing from Suboxone is not dangerous to do at home, it can be very uncomfortable. Detoxing from Suboxone requires a taper or a gradual lowering of doses each day to eliminate the drug from their system. This should be done in a professional setting, considering the physical, emotional, and mental consequences it may bring on the individual.
The consequences an individual may face if they decide to quit Suboxone on their own are made up of mostly psychological changes. Usually, people who experience withdrawal are going to feel physical pain, but it is the mental obsession and negative thought process that can be detrimental to their recovery.
Detoxing at home provides no sense of security or company to release negative thoughts or emotions that arise during this time. In a detox facility, users can come off Suboxone safely and easily in the care of licensed professionals. Detox is vital in starting the recovery process. It is the initial step on the long road to recovery.
Quitting any drug cold turkey can be dangerous, especially if someone is using Suboxone accompanied by other narcotics. The removal of multiple substances from the body at one time, without medical help, can be severe. The detox process varies and depends entirely on how much of a substance an individual is using and how long they have used it for.
Detoxing from Suboxone is not the final stage of the recovery process. It is recommended that people who are in active addiction admit themselves into a long-term program such as an inpatient or residential treatment program. This type of treatment acts not only as a time away from Suboxone but also as a safe environment for people to be around others who are going through the same issues. The benefits of long-term treatment are endless. Residential treatment helps people in active addiction to recover from the damage of using drugs like Suboxone. Addiction is made up of mental, emotional, and physical aspects. Detox caters to the physical symptoms of addiction where residential treatment helps the individual cope with their mental and emotional state. Targeting the behaviors and thoughts that lead to addiction is vital to successful recovery.
Without further care, the addicted person faces dilemmas that can ultimately steer them away from the road to success in sobriety. Inpatient or residential treatment centers allow recovering users to see how damaging Suboxone can be on the body as well as the mind. This knowledge and motivation can help individuals make the most of their lives.
Drugs like Suboxone and opioids can be severely dangerous if used for long periods. To prevent serious complications brought on by the drugs, users need to follow through with a treatment plan dedicated to them as individuals.
Once residential treatment is over, many people assume they can easily return to their everyday lives without the fear of relapsing. However, coming back to the stressors, environments, people, and stressors that led you to addiction can easily send you running back to the drug. Outpatient treatment allows you to continue going to frequent therapy sessions while living outside of the facility either at home or in a transitional living facility.
Despite its benefits, Suboxone is a highly addictive drug. If individuals taking this drug are pre-exposed to addiction, the chances of becoming addicted are much higher than those who are not predisposed to the disease. If you or someone you know is addicted to Suboxone, there is a way out.
Suboxone use may work at first, but long-term use of Suboxone can lead an individual to the point of no return. Addiction alone is not easy to overcome, but it is never too late to ask for help. At Ocean Breeze Recovery, we have trained professionals available 24/7 to help you in regaining control of your life. By calling 844-554-9279 today or connecting with us online, you or a loved one can get help right away.
SAMHSA. (2016 March). Naloxone. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/naloxone
verywellhealth. (2020, March 23) How Long Does Withdrawal from Suboxone Last? Signs and Symptoms. O'Keefe Osborn, C. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/suboxone-withdrawal-4178344#signs-and-symptoms
The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment. What is Precipitated withdrawal? Retrieved from https://www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=70
Society for the Study of Addiction. (2009, January 15) Addiction. Buprenorphine tapering schedule and illicit opioid use. Ling, W., et. al. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150159/
Psychology Today. (2010, January 13) Alcohol, Benzos, and Opiates—Withdrawal That Might Kill You. Jaffe, A. PhD. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201001/alcohol-benzos-and-opiates-withdrawal-might-kill-you
SAMHSA. (June, 2017). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders