Suboxone Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, & Detox
Suboxone is one of the most effective prescriptions used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. While it has a lower risk of abuse than other opioids, it can still lead to dependence and addiction.
You should never quit Suboxone cold turkey because it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Most withdrawal symptoms last about two weeks but lingering symptoms can last for at least a month.
Tapering off Suboxone under the supervision of a medical professional in combination with proper aftercare ensures a much smoother withdrawal process.
How Does Suboxone Work?
Suboxone is a combination medication containing the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist with the potential for dependence and abuse. It attaches to opioid receptors but to a lesser extent than other opiates.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the pleasurable effects of opioids. However, naloxone does not interfere with buprenorphine’s effects if it is taken sublingually (under the tongue).
While you will not experience withdrawal from naloxone, buprenorphine is 25-50 times more potent than morphine and it is highly recommended to gradually taper your Suboxone.
Learn more about How Suboxone Works
Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal happens when you become physically dependent on a drug, which means your body relies on it to function normally. Although some of the symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal mimic other opioids, there are significant differences, especially in the duration of withdrawal.
Some factors that affect the duration and intensity of withdrawal include:
- how long you have been taking Suboxone
- how frequently you take Suboxone
In most cases, withdrawal symptoms follow this general timeline:
First Stage Of Suboxone Withdrawal
Suboxone is long-acting, which can delay the onset of opioid withdrawal. Usually, initial withdrawal symptoms don’t appear until 48 hours after your last dose.
During the first stage, symptoms of suboxone withdrawal can include:
- runny nose
Most of these withdrawal symptoms will peak after 72 hours but may persist for more than a week.
Second Stage Of Suboxone Withdrawal
During the second stage, there may be a significant increase in psychological symptoms, such as depression and mood swings.
During the second stage, symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal can include:
- muscle aches
- teary eyes
- dilated pupils
After two weeks, the physical symptoms should begin to subside substantially. You may still feel significant psychological symptoms and cravings for at least a month.
By this stage of withdrawal, it’s crucial to have a treatment plan in place to sustain your recovery. The risk of returning to substance abuse is high without aftercare and cravings can make you especially vulnerable.
Suboxone Addiction Treatment Options
You should never try to detox from Suboxone without the help of your doctor because of the risk of relapse and severe withdrawal.
Whether you choose inpatient detox or tapering under the care of your doctor, your treatment does not end when you stop taking Suboxone. One of the most important ways to prevent returning to drug abuse is long-term aftercare.
Tapering your Suboxone with the help of a healthcare professional is the most effective way to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. A taper involves gradually decreasing your dose over several weeks or months.
Your doctor may recommend you only decrease 5-10 percent of your dose every few weeks. This will allow your body time to adjust and prevent severe withdrawal symptoms.
Combining your taper with behavioral therapy and support groups will increase the likelihood of long-term recovery.
Suboxone Detox Program
You may decide that detoxing in a medical facility is more suitable for your treatment plan than tapering from home. Detox programs are beneficial because you have 24/7 access to treatment specialists. You may be given medications to ease withdrawal symptoms.
These medications may include:
- clonidine (a high blood pressure medication that can ease anxiety)
- loperamide (anti-diarrheal)
- melatonin (sleep-aid)
- non-opioid painkillers (aspirin, acetaminophen)
Outpatient treatment is convenient if you have a solid support system. You can travel to scheduled therapy sessions daily or weekly, depending on your treatment needs.
Behavioral therapy will address psychological symptoms of substance use disorder as well as any co-occurring mental health issues. This type of therapy will teach you to identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and learn healthy coping skills.
Inpatient treatment may include residential rehab programs, which are long-term care options. During inpatient treatment, you will live in a program that provides you with counseling, group therapy, and support groups.
If you or a loved one is considering treatment, please contact Ark Behavioral Health to speak with one of our specialists.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
Indian Journal of Psychiatry - Buprenorphine Withdrawal Syndrome
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Buprenorphine tapering schedule and illicit opioid use
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Withdrawal from Buprenorphine/Naloxone and Maintenance with a Natural Dopaminergic Agonist: A Cautionary Note
University of Nevada, Reno - Withdrawing from Buprenorphine Therapy
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