Suboxone is a prescription medication used in the treatment of opiate addiction to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and prevent a relapse. It contains both buprenorphine and naloxone.
Withdrawing from Suboxone can lead to symptoms for up to a month or so. Symptoms from Suboxone withdrawal vary widely from person to person. While it is a medication used in treatment, it does produce symptoms of withdrawal that are common for other opiates. People withdrawing from Suboxone might experience:
- Digestive distress that leads to nausea or vomiting that you can’t control
- Headaches and trouble concentrating on normal tasks
- Sweating or chills, with or without an accompanying fever
- Depression and feelings of overall hopelessness
- Periods of insomnia alternating with feelings of lethargy
Suboxone is a partial opioid antagonist1, and this is why it can produce withdrawal symptoms when you are withdrawing from Suboxone. It is used to treat addiction, because Suboxone has a ceiling effect, meaning you can only get so high no matter how much Suboxone you take. It is effective at treatment an addiction to opiates, because it is much harder to abuse yet it manages withdrawal symptoms.
Factors That Influence Severity of Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
There are a number of factors that will play a role in the severity of your Suboxone withdrawal symptoms. It is important that you wean off of Suboxone in order to reduce or eliminate your withdrawal symptoms. All withdrawal should be medically-supervised, under the care of your provider or in a detox facility. How long you have been taking Suboxone, your current dose, and whether you are abusing Suboxone in an effort to get high will all influence the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. If you are abusing other opiates, this will further complicate your Suboxone withdrawal and any symptoms that occur.
The Timeline of Suboxone Withdrawal
The physical symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal can last up to a month, although many people still have an emotional attachment to the medication. Complete withdrawal takes time, and should always be done under supervision. The first three days of Suboxone withdrawal are usually the worst as far as symptoms, and the symptoms ease up over time. Once the first week is over, symptoms tend to become body aches and pains, problems with sleeping, and issues with rapidly changing moods.
In the second week of Suboxone withdrawal, depression can become overwhelming. If a person withdrawing from Suboxone is feeling lethargic and depressed because of Suboxone withdrawal, they are at a high risk of a relapse if they are home alone. Continued support is needed to work through the withdrawal period and deal with the symptoms as they come up.
At the one month mark, many people withdrawing from Suboxone experience difficult cravings and depression. This is a sensitive time in the recovery process, as the depression and cravings often leads to a relapse.
Understanding Suboxone and Addiction Treatment
Suboxone is a medication prescribed as part of an addiction treatment protocol2 when trying to overcome an addiction to opiates. It is important to work with a therapist during this time to learn coping strategies and behavior management skills. While Suboxone is highly useful for those dealing with opiate dependence, there are times when the individual has to rely on Suboxone for a lengthy period of time to remain free from opiate abuse. It is a medication that should never be stopped without warning, as it can produce withdrawal symptoms that are taught to deal with. Symptoms may include:
- An upset stomach and vomiting
- Problems with body aches and flu-like symptoms
- Developing a fever or chills
- Emotional issues such as depression, mood swings or anxiety
- Feeling irritable or overwhelmed
How long the symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal last and how bad they are will depend on the dosage being used and the length of time Suboxone has been used. Although most symptoms subside after the first month, many people discover that they still feel psychologically dependent on the medication. It can take several months of solid support and guidance to be successful at fully withdrawing from Suboxone and moving forward with your addiction program.
How to Deal With Addiction Without Medication
Prescription Suboxone is a temporary solution to help you slowly become less dependent on opiates. As you decrease your Suboxone dose, you may start to worry about dealing with your addiction to opiates without the use of medication. Concerns around how you are going to feel without Suboxone in your system are valid, and they are common among people who are taking Suboxone. In order to work through your physical and psychological dependence to Suboxone, it is important to work with professionals who are:
- Educated in addiction and recovery, while having experience working in the field
- Know what your situation is, why you are addicted and what your life is like
- Ready to provide you with a treatment plan that is comprehensive and guide you through the process of recovery
- Able to give you support throughout the continuum of care
When a treatment plan involves therapy and medical care to deal with withdrawal symptoms, it is possible to treat an addiction without the use of medication. Your progress may be slow, but you can wean off of Suboxone in a safe and effective manner when you have the right support in place.
Essential Components of Nonmedicated Detox
Detox from Suboxone takes time. When you are ready to withdraw from Suboxone, it is important to consider the essential components to a nonmedicated detox. You will want to work with professionals who have the experience necessary to guide you in the right direction. Peer support for Suboxone withdrawal will strengthen your sobriety and improve your chances at success. Alternative therapies, such as massage, meditation, and acupuncture can all be effective at managing a nonmedicated detox. Once you go through a detox, setting up the right aftercare program and relapse prevention strategies with further increase your chances of long-term sobriety. Work closely with a counselor as you discuss your treatment plan for Suboxone addiction so that you know what to expect next from treatment.
Recovery From Suboxone and Opiate Addiction
One of the most effective ways to ensure long-term sobriety is to work with a therapist. It is difficult to stay sober without the support of a therapist who understands addiction and the recovery process. Each person has a treatment plan that is written in collaboration with a therapist to address strengths, weaknesses and goals. Everyone is different, although there are commonalities found in therapeutic treatment plans for Suboxone addiction that can include:
- Assessing and evaluating the individual to get a clear picture of what led to the addiction. If there are any underlying medical conditions, or co-occurring mental health disorders, these are included in the evaluation to better identify hurdles to successful treatment.
- The goals set by the individual receiving treatment, how long treatment should occur and all treatment resources available to the individual are part of a successful treatment plan.
- Therapy is an essential component to any addiction treatment program. The therapist becomes the professional who helps the individual work through treatment hurdles, deals with trauma, or any challenges that presented in the past.
- Case management services are important to an individual going through Suboxone addiction treatment, as this will ensure that all treatment makes sense and is providing for a solid foundation of recovery.
- Group therapy may be recommended to help ease the burden of those who are newly sober, and assist in building a network of peers. It is important to have peer support throughout the journey of sobriety.
- Meetings in the community such as 12-step meetings, or other support meetings are useful to many individuals dealing with an addiction. For people who feel alone in the recovery process, meetings offer support, guidance and a sense of belonging to those dealing with an addiction.
- Treatment can include a range of alternative modalities, such as reward systems, animal-assisted therapies, developing a new exercise program or starting a new hobby. Alternative therapies can be anything that is a positive influence on the life of the addicted individual and helps ease the stress of recovery. Some choose to learn yoga, drumming, or meditation to feel a sense of calm.
- Support in the long-term is necessary for those dealing with an addiction to Suboxone. Once rehab is over, the work of long-term sobriety begins. This means dealing with the addiction, working through emotional trauma, and developing relapse prevention strategies that work are important.
Relapse Prevention and Your Sobriety
Once you are physically free from Suboxone, learning relapse prevention techniques are essential to your long-term recovery. As you get to know people in recovery, you will discover that many people have relapse prevention strategies that they try. If you are going to meetings in the community, get to know your peers who are also focused on their sobriety. When you are feeling down, or struggling with your sobriety, you will have a network of people to call to get you back on track. Solid relapse prevention strategies can include:
- Learning mindfulness to stay present and calm
- Developing a trusting relationship with an ongoing therapist
- Volunteering in the community to give back to others
- Exercising to reduce stress and improve your overall health
When you can calm your body and mind, it becomes easier to deal with an addiction to substances. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, managing your overall health can lead to better outcomes with sobriety. Suboxone addiction takes time to overcome, but you can stop using or abusing Suboxone when you are ready to make a change in your life. With the right relapse prevention strategies in place, an addiction can be overcome so that you can live a happy, healthy life.
Treatment may start with detox, but it is how you handle your course of treatment that will matter most. Be honest with the counselor you work with to develop a treatment plan, and stay in a treatment program if you are not ready to return home. While many people rush going home after detox, this often leads to a relapse for those who aren’t prepared with the tools necessary to stay sober. Give yourself the chance at a full recovery by asking for the help you need.
Get the Help You Deserve Today
At Harmony Place, we have the support and services you need to get through a Suboxone detox. If you are struggling with withdrawal symptoms and you are looking for help, it’s time to contact Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, CA at [Direct] and find the program that is right for you. It is possible to stop abusing Suboxone, or to withdraw safely from the medication. Whether you need supervision during detox, or you want to go to a long term rehabilitation program for Suboxone treatment, get the help you deserve.
1National Alliance on Mental Illness (2020). Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone)
2Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2020). Buprenorphine