Suboxone is a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction. When used as directed, it will relieve symptoms of opioid withdrawal without getting you high. Suboxone also reduces opioid cravings, which goes a long way in preventing relapse. Many convalescents take it for months or even years after they stop getting high...
Although it won’t get you high, Suboxone is still an opioid, which means you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit the cold turkey.
How Suboxone works is a bit complicated. Think of the opioid receptors in your brain like a light switch. First touch the light switch, then turn it on.
Heroin, morphine, and prescription opioids are all called full opioid agonists. They bind to the opioid receptors in your brain and turn on the lights.
Suboxone is a combination of two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone.
Buprenorphine is what is known as a partial opioid agonist. Think of this as your opioid dimmer. It binds to your opioid receptors and chooses brightness without turning on the lights all the way...
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means that it binds to the opioid receptors but doesn’t turn them on. Naloxone acts like a hand over your “light switch” preventing other opioids from flipping the switch and bringing you up.
If your “light switch” is already on, Naloxon will turn it off. Naloxone was added to Suboxone to prevent distraction and abuse. This means that if someone injects Suboxone when they have opioids in their system, it can cause them to enter withdrawal immediately. When used as intended sublingually, the naloxone is not absorbed.
You should not start taking Suboxone until all other opioids have been eliminated from your system. Suboxone is most effective when taken after withdrawal symptoms appear (lights off). The buprenorphine in Suboxone will turn the lights on enough to stop your withdrawal, but not enough to get you high...
Quitting Suboxone suddenly can cause the same symptoms as traditional opioid withdrawal, but is usually less severe.
You may experience sweating, anxiety, restlessness, muscle pain, and upset stomach. Rather than stepping off the cold turkey, doctors usually advise reducing the dose slowly. By slowly dimming the lights, your withdrawal experience should be relatively smooth.
The most common complication of opioid withdrawal is relapse. Relapses are more common when withdrawal symptoms and food cravings are severe. A combination of tapering, medication management, and counseling can help improve your chances...
Signs and symptoms
If you’re using Suboxone to treat opioid addiction or to treat pain, you can expect withdrawal symptoms if you miss a dose or try to quit the cold turkey...
Opioid addiction occurs with any long-term opioid use, regardless of whether you follow a doctor’s advice. Once you become physically dependent on a drug, withdrawal symptoms will appear when it leaves your system.
Suboxone causes most of the physical symptoms typical of opioid withdrawal. These include:..
- muscle pain
- Stomach cramps or diarrhea
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tremors or twitching
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- goose bumps
If you are taking Suboxone to treat opioid addiction, your withdrawal symptoms should be less severe than they have been in the past.
To get a better idea of how mild to moderate symptoms of opioid withdrawal are compared to more intense symptoms, you can check the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS).
Healthcare professionals use this scale to determine the severity of opioid withdrawal syndrome...
The timeline for Suboxone withdrawal is also a little different from your previous experience. Buprenorphine is a long-acting opioid, which means that withdrawal symptoms can take several days to appear.
Suboxon withdrawal usually begins within two to four days, peaks around three to five days, and disappears within seven days. However, sometimes mental symptoms can last for several weeks. This can include depression and the inability to experience pleasure.
The psychological challenges associated with withdrawal are not always caused by the withdrawal itself. Withdrawal can trigger the return of mental health problems that were alleviated by drug use, such as: B. Anxiety and Depression...
After withdrawal, people are also forced to look closely at the damage their drug addiction has wrought. It’s not uncommon to struggle with guilt and regret. It can be overwhelming and emotionally draining figuring out how to get your life going again. That is why it is so important to ask for help.
Coping and Relief
The most effective way to treat Suboxone withdrawal is to avoid it first. You can avoid the withdrawal symptoms by working with your doctor to reduce your dose. Tapering means gradually reducing the dose over time. If you acquired your Suboxone illegally, you should seek out a doctor to help you rejuvenate.
Suboxone tapering schedules usually run over a period of seven to 28 days.
Some studies have shown that overall success (as measured by a longer period of abstinence) tends to be better with a shorter taper of seven days..Other studies have shown that withdrawal symptoms are best managed through a slow, flexible tapering schedule. With a flexible tapering plan, your doctor can slow down the dose reduction if uncomfortable symptoms arise...
If, despite the Suboxone rejuvenation, you are still having problems with withdrawal, your doctor may recommend one or more support medication. This can include:
Lucemyra (lofexidine hydrochloride)
Lucemyra is a brand new drug that was approved by the FDA in May 2018..It is the first non-opioid drug approved to treat withdrawal symptoms. Lucemyra works by reducing the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that is thought to play a role in withdrawal symptoms.
As it does not contain an opioid agonist, Lucemyra treatment can start immediately after your last dose of Suboxone. It is currently approved to treat healthy adults for a maximum of 14 days after stopping the opioid.
If you’re having problems with withdrawal from Suboxone, keep the following tips in mind:..
- Drink more fluids than usual during withdrawal to avoid dehydration.
- Eat a balanced diet to keep your vitamin and electrolyte levels high.
- Work closely with a doctor, counselor, or physical therapist to develop new ways to manage pain during and after withdrawal.
- Practice relaxation techniques (meditation, listening to music) to deal with anxiety and restlessness.
- Try light to moderate exercise to deal with restlessness.
- Find something else to focus on while taking off, such as B. a TV show, book or hobby.
- Get support and encouragement from a local community group or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting.
Opioid withdrawal is often uncomfortable, but very rarely dangerous. With Suboxone, complications are even less likely..Even so, it is important to work closely with a doctor during Suboxone rejuvenation.
The biggest threat to people withdrawing from Suboxone is the risk of relapse.
Relapses are common in people with opioid use disorders and are generally considered a normal part of the recovery process. But people who have taken Suboxone are usually further on the road to recovery. Relapse at this point can be both dangerous (because your tolerance has dropped) and daunting.
If you acquired your Suboxone illegally or don’t have a close relationship with your doctor, it can be tempting to rejuvenate yourself. This is not advisable for several reasons. As you rejuvenate yourself, your chances of failure increase. Unsuccessful attempts to quit are daunting and psychologically stressful.
If you stop Suboxone because you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should definitely speak to a doctor. Suboxone is not recommended for pregnant women. So it is great that you are considering quitting..Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend accelerated tapering or a switch to buprenorphine or methadone, which have been shown to be safe during pregnancy.
Long term treatment
Opioid use disorders are known to be difficult to defeat. It’s not uncommon for someone to successfully get through the detox only to relapse a few weeks later. But if you’ve used Suboxone to treat your addiction, you’re already ahead of the game. Suboxone gives you the time to develop a long-term treatment strategy without being distracted by the discomfort of withdrawal.
According to Suboxone, a long-term treatment plan should focus on preventing future relapse. Talk therapy plays a very important role in preventing relapse. Once you leave Suboxone, you have overcome your physical dependence on opioids, but not the psychological aspects of the addiction.
Talk therapy can help you figure out why you started substance abuse in the first place. You can learn to identify certain situations and feelings that you have used in the past. Recognizing these triggers will help you identify and eliminate the negative thought patterns that are causing you to make bad decisions.
Research shows that combining talk therapy with medication management is more effective than medication alone in treating opioid addiction.
There are many ways to explore talk therapy. You might consider working one-on-one with a psychologist or mental health advisor in a private practice. You can meet with a mental health or addiction counselor at a local community clinic. Or, you can explore group therapy programs offered in many hospitals, clinics, and addiction treatment facilities.
For more information on Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings in your area, visit the website. You can find a meeting near you using the searchable directory.
If you are the loved one of someone with an opioid use disorder, you should consider joining a support group for people like you. Nar-Anon is a 12-step program for family members and friends of people with drug problems. These meetings allow you to speak to people who have experienced the same fears and frustrations as you.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction problems, contact the National Drug Abuse and Mental Health Authority (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
A word from Verywell
If you’re on Suboxone and have plans to quit, chances are you’re already on your way to recovery. Make no mistake about trying to quit the cold turkey – work with a doctor. Remember, relapse at this stage can be very dangerous. So don’t be overconfident that you can abstain. Finding support, whether through meetings or therapy sessions, can keep you sober in the long run.