What is Suboxone?
Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication, and naloxone blocks its narcotic effects. This way, a patient can take buprenorphine for chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions without getting the “high” people often experience with opioids.
In theory, this should prevent opioid abuse. However, many patients overuse Suboxone for reasons other than highs. For example, they might use it in search of a better night’s sleep, or because their pain might be very severe. When someone develops a dependence or addiction to Suboxone, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop the use. A medically-assisted Suboxone detox can prevent these symptoms.
Suboxone comes as a tablet and in a film or strip that dissolves under the tongue. Patients should never inject or crush Suboxone and mix it into liquid. Those who take this drug need to be tested frequently to ensure proper liver function. They must also wear medical alert tags or bracelets in case of an emergency, such as accidental overdose.
As with many other drugs, patients should never mix Suboxone with other prescriptions or alcohol. To avoid dependency, patients should not keep leftover Suboxone tablets or films, and they should endeavor to take Suboxone exactly as prescribed. Patients should consult doctors about missed doses: It’s often OK to let a missing dose go, but not always. People who misuse Suboxone may take it with alcohol and other drugs to enhance the effects. Suboxone detox becomes very important at this stage.
Suboxone and its variant, Subutex, are potentially dangerous prescription drugs. They underwent only 16 weeks of FDA testing before going on the market to treat addiction. Additionally, they remain somewhat obscure, receiving less research than similar drugs.
Suboxone Side Effects
Suboxone has a long list of side effects. Some are common and found with most prescription drugs. However, others are potentially dangerous. For example, Suboxone can make you extremely drowsy. This often leads to weakness and shallow breathing, which can cause severe respiratory distress and other life-threatening conditions, especially if the user has taken other drugs that slow the heart and breathing functions.
Nausea and vomiting are also common. Sometimes these side effects mimic withdrawal symptoms, even if you are taking regular Suboxone doses. Many people experience constipation, diarrhea, and clay-colored stools, along with other gastrointestinal issues. Such issues may lead to malnutrition and overall debilitation. Contact your doctor immediately if you are struggling to eat and drink regularly while taking Suboxone.
Other Suboxone side effects also mimic other aspects of withdrawal. These include shaking, sweating, and muscle pain or cramps. Patients who use the sublingual film may experience tongue pain or swelling. Numbness or redness inside the mouth is common as well. Arm and leg swelling also occurs, in many cases.
Suboxone detox is among the drug treatments you’ve heard of. As medications, they’re great for getting you high quickly and making you feel drowsy and lethargic afterward.
This may be very destructive, but it is much better to say than to do so simply by stopping addictive use. Therefore, some medicines have been developed and approved to help remove people from the toughest toxins, but even these contain their dangers. Suboxone is a common alternative for detox drugs in the case of opioid dependency and medication that presents caution.
Suboxone is an opioid-sufficiency prescription drug. As used as instructed, it alleviates opium symptoms of withdrawal without increasing your elevation. Suboxone detox also decreases the number of opioid hunger pangs to avoid recurrence. Most addicts who regenerate take months or even years to get high.
While you’re not getting high, Suboxone detox also has an opioid, which suggests that if you want to break out of cold Turkey you will have signs of withdrawal.
What To Expect During Detox And Recovery From Suboxone
Suboxone detox may feel harder than other detox regimens because it requires getting off a drug that was supposed to end a different addiction. During Suboxone detox, you will probably deal with severe original symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and panicking. This is why it is so vital to take Suboxone detox in an addiction treatment facility with professionals nearby to help.
Additionally, withdrawal from Suboxone looks a bit different from most withdrawal processes. Many addicts mistake initial endorphin drops for withdrawal. However, true withdrawal does not begin until addicts start tapering off dosages. True withdrawal can take as long as 72 hours to begin, and the full process can last up to a month.
Many Suboxone withdrawal symptoms mimic those of other drugs, especially opioids. You will experience the worst physical and psychological symptoms within the first 72 hours after initial withdrawal. Symptoms include headaches, fever or chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Psychologically, you may experience resurgent original symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, and insomnia. Some addicts get violent at this stage, but clinicians will help you avoid harming yourself and others.
During the first week of withdrawal, your physical symptoms will decrease, but you may still experience anxiety and mood swings. Within two weeks, the worst physical and psychological symptoms will decrease dramatically. However, you will probably experience cravings and depression. Inpatient treatment can help tremendously during this stage.
Signs of Suboxone Withdrawal
During withdrawal, your body is doing a lot of work. Thus, you can expect to experience certain physical symptoms as well as psychological symptoms as you undergo Suboxone detox. Co-occurring mental health issues may emerge. Some Suboxone detox and treatment facilities offer expert assistance in handling Suboxone withdrawal symptoms. A good treatment center aims to make your Suboxone detox experience as comfortable as possible.
Some of the most common physical symptoms of detox are:
- Hot or Cold Flashes: You may experience a sudden, intense feeling of either heat or coldness all over your body.
- Skin Abnormalities: You may feel physically uncomfortable in your own skin or even feel as if bugs are crawling on you. You also may develop goosebumps from time to time.
- Tiredness: As your body rids itself of Suboxone, you will likely feel fatigued.
- Muscle Discomfort: This may manifest as pain and cramps across your whole body.
- Drug Cravings: It is natural to experience both physical and mental Suboxone cravings.
- Sweating: Due to the dehydrating properties of Suboxone, sweating (and night sweats in particular) commonly occurs during withdrawal. Sweating is also one avenue the body uses to remove Suboxone from your system.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Although unpleasant, these symptoms are common when withdrawing from drugs that impact the brain’s opioid receptors.
- Appetite Loss: A high-quality treatment center will ensure that you remain properly nourished, even if you do not feel like eating.
- Diarrhea: Not only is diarrhea uncomfortable, but it is also dehydrating. To mitigate this, you will need to drink lots of water and possibly even use some medications to help your body to better adjust to being without Suboxone.
- Sleep Trouble: Insomnia can snowball into other problems, so The Recovery Village® prioritizes good sleep for everyone undergoing detox. Sleep aid medications may help you get much-needed rest.
Some of the most common psychological symptoms of detox are:
- Irritability or Moodiness: Your brain is no longer receiving floods of dopamine, so you may be irritable, especially during the beginning stages of Suboxone detox.
- Depression and/or Suicidality: Unfortunately, these unpleasant feelings may occur. That is why The Recovery Village®’s staff keeps in close touch with each patient undergoing detox. If your depression is severe, your treatment team may consider medicinal remedies.
- Anxiety: It is normal to feel anxious when you are learning to live without Suboxone. Anxiety will subside as you adjust. Like depression, severe anxiety may call for a drug-based remedy.
- Other Co-occurring Disorders: In addition to depression and anxiety, withdrawal can cause underlying mental health problems to erupt and rise to the surface. For example, say that a woman has been using Suboxone for 10 years because it numbs her feelings of anger and emptiness. When she detoxes from the drug, she will feel those emotions without the blinders of Suboxone. She may have been suffering from borderline personality disorder for many years without any knowledge of her condition. These feelings can be disconcerting, especially if she has never seen a psychiatrist or other diagnostician who could provide information about the reasons behind her intense feelings.
Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline
Have you ever asked, “How long does Suboxone withdrawal last?” Compared to most other opioids, Suboxone takes longer to act on your body and also remains active for a greater length of time. Because of these characteristics, the time associated with opioid withdrawal syndrome is altered at either end. In other words, because Suboxone is a long-acting drug, withdrawal symptoms do not set in as quickly as they do for other opioids and they also last longer. This can make Suboxone withdrawal more difficult.
Suboxone withdrawal neither takes place all at once nor drags on forever. Rather, it is a multi-stage process. Here is a timeline that shows when certain symptoms tend to show up during the Suboxone detox process. Note that these times may deviate for you, depending on your unique body chemistry.
- Days 1 – 3: Physical symptoms may begin to show up within 6 – 12 hours after you last abused Suboxone. You may experience muscle pain, nausea and diarrhea, but your treatment team can provide medications to ease these symptoms.
- Days 4 – 7: You may experience insomnia as your body eliminates the Suboxone. This is when you may begin to feel some of the psychological impacts of withdrawal, which may include anxiety and irritability.
- Weeks 2 – 4: Once the first week is complete, many people become more prone to depression. Your treatment team can help you through this co-occurring disorder with talk therapy and possibly medicinal intervention.
- Month 2+: At this point, relapse prevention is crucial. Though Suboxone is out of your system, your brain is still wired to crave the drug. In fact, Suboxone cravings can occur years after you’ve used the drug.
Managing Suboxone Addiction without Medication
For most people in recovery, the use of Suboxone is temporary. Use of the drug will eventually be tapered to make way for total sobriety. This process should be done in a slow and measured way, allowing for plateaus to accommodate the individual’s experience and stability along the way. When Suboxone becomes the object of addiction, however, and use of the medication no longer positively serves the person, it becomes necessary to chart a new path to recovery that may not include the use of opioid medications of any kind. This requires the guidance of a team of substance abuse treatment professionals who are:
- Educated and experienced in substance abuse treatment
- Aware of all the issues contributing to the client’s current situation
- Dedicated to offering a comprehensive treatment plan individualized to meet the client’s needs
- Available to provide long-term support
Through comprehensive treatment that includes medical care to address Suboxone detox and associated withdrawal symptoms as well as a therapeutic intervention, medication may not be necessary.
Suboxone detox & Therapeutic Support and Recovery
The key to maintaining sobriety is applying long term is therapy. Without it, it may become impossible for many to remain abstinent for any relevant length of time. Depending on the experience of the client leading up to and during addiction, and goals for the future, the therapeutic choices incorporated into an individualized treatment plan may vary widely from person to person. In most cases, however, a treatment plan to address Suboxone addiction will include:
- Evaluation and assessment: A full understanding of all the issues that play a role in a person’s use of drugs is essential to creating a directed and effective treatment plan. Behavioral disorders, co-occurring mental health disorders, underlying medical conditions, trauma, and more are identified early on in order to ensure that these issues are all addressed during the treatment process.
- Unique treatment plan: Depending on the results of the evaluation and assessment, the person’s goals for recovery, length of time in treatment, and available resources, a unique treatment plan is created.
- Personal therapy: Meeting regularly with a therapist on a one-on-one basis can provide a “home base” for the client throughout recovery. Here, it is possible to work on past issues and present challenges, and manage treatment goals.
- Individualized case management: Case management is required to ensure that all pieces of the puzzle are fitting together in a way that provides coping skills for a long and stable recovery after treatment.
- Group therapy sessions: Meeting regularly with others who are also on the path to balance in sobriety can provide a valuable network of support during treatment and in the months and years following.
- Peer support, or 12-Step meetings: The 12-Step treatment structure has proven beneficial in the lives of millions of people, and many treatment programs incorporate the philosophy and group session style into their programs. This not only offers clients positive support in recovery but also provides them with a portable therapy option that will assist them in the transition into independent sobriety.
- Alternative therapies: Artistic therapies, food-based therapies, exercise therapies, animal-assisted therapies, and more can be excellent additions to the traditional therapies mentioned above. These should be chosen based on a client’s interests and areas of need. For example, those struggling with making positive connections with other people in recovery and trusting themselves may opt for a sports and adventure therapy that takes them into the outdoors with a group to explore nature and step outside their comfort zone.
- Holistic therapies: Holistic therapies can also be personalized to suit the personality and interest of the individual. Some popular options include yoga, meditation, drumming, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and more.
- Long-term aftercare and support: Treatment does not stop when rehab ends. Rather, this initial phase of recovery is just a starting point, and those who are most successful in maintaining sobriety for the long-term are the ones who remain actively engaged in treatment for all issues (e.g., addiction, co-occurring mental health issues, etc.) for years after transitioning into independent living. This can mean continuing to meet with a personal therapist, attending 12-Step meetings, connecting with other support group options, and engaging in holistic and alternative therapies that are meaningful.
Reclaim Your Life With Suboxone Detox
Suboxone addiction is a condition that can cause major health, social and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up California can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from addiction with professional and safe Suboxone detox. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Velander J. R. (2018). Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions. The Ochsner journal, 18(1), 23–29.
 FDA. SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual film CIII
 We Level Up Treatment Center. Suboxone Detox