The process of withdrawing from opiates can be extremely challenging. Medication-assisted detox can help immensely. Suboxone, a mixture of buprenorphine and naloxone, is commonly prescribed in detox to treat heroin and opioid use disorders. This combination of an opioid-based medication, buprenorphine, with naloxone, which blocks the “high” feeling of the opioid, helps a person treat the uncomfortable physical symptoms of withdrawal without the reward of the high.

Length and frequency of use of suboxone, any pre-existing medical conditions, and the presence of any mental health disorders all contribute to a withdrawal experience that varies from person to person. The speed of suboxone effects on the body occur faster and last longer than many opioid drugs. Since suboxone is long-acting, it can delay withdrawal symptoms and make those symptoms last longer. Symptoms can be much more difficult for someone who stops using suboxone cold turkey.

Suboxone is often prescribed as a long-term medical therapy, also called medication-assisted therapy (MAT). The opioid in suboxone can make stopping challenging as it can cause difficult withdrawal symptoms. The following symptoms can occur and may last up to one month:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Chills

Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline

Within the first month of withdrawal, there are different stages of symptoms, with the worst effects occurring within 72 hours after suboxone has left someone’s system.

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  • Seventy-two hours: Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, nausea are the most intense.
  • One week: Some mood swings and insomnia may start occurring.
  • Two weeks: Depression may occur.
  • One month: Depression can continue, and substance cravings may surface. Cravings should be carefully managed, as a person is at a high risk of relapse.

While physical symptoms might subside after a month, psychological symptoms can linger for many months afterward.

Suboxone Components

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Each element affects the body differently to make this an effective medication to help treat opioid addiction.

  • Buprenorphine: An opioid medication that interacts with the brain like other opioids/opiates; however, it does not generate a high
  • Naloxone: Blocks opioid receptors and eliminates the possibility of a high

Suboxone Detox

If a person is addicted to suboxone, an inpatient detox program may be necessary. This level of care will start with a thorough assessment by a medical professional to guide the development of an individualized treatment plan. The most common practice is to create a plan to have the person taper off the drug over time. This means that a person’s dosage will be regularly reduced until they are no longer taking it.

While inpatient, a person will be given other medications such as clonidine, which has also shown effectiveness in easing suboxone withdrawal.

Benefits of a Suboxone Detox Program

The ability to be guided by a medical professional throughout the withdrawal process creates a more promising chance of full recovery. Treatment plans are designed using evidence-based practices to care for the needs of each person. Medical staff can help with the withdrawal process by being supportive and attentive through a difficult process. Inpatient detox programs also ensure the highest level of safety for the individual.

A few specific ways that formal treatment center can help with suboxone treatment are:

  • Creating a patient’s treatment plan, adjusting when necessary
  • Providing access to experienced addiction treatment professionals
  • Offering mental health counseling
  • Incorporating additional medications to aid in the withdrawal
  • Offering a good support system
  • Suggesting alternate methods to manage withdrawal symptoms
  • Helping in long-term care planning to prevent a relapse

If you or a loved one are addicted to suboxone, don’t wait to get help. Getting connected with a medical professional or formal addiction treatment program can help individuals eliminate suboxone from their lives.