How to Detox From Suboxone
You can avoid most Suboxone withdrawal symptoms by working closely with your doctor and pharmacist to taper doses over a week or more. Even though the medication gets prescribed to help you break an addiction to powerful painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, Suboxone itself produces many of the same physical effects as those opioids. As a result, you can become very sick if you stop taking Suboxone suddenly and without medical supervision.
Recognize the Risks of Suboxone Withdrawal
Suboxone combines a heroin-like medication called buprenorphine with an opioid-blocking medication called naloxone. It works by both providing a small amount of the high you would get by abusing another opioid and by making your system less sensitive to such drugs.
FDA-approved patient counseling information for Suboxone users states, “Patients seeking to discontinue treatment with buprenorphine for opioid dependence should be advised to work closely with their physician on a tapering schedule and should be apprised of the potential to relapse to illicit drug use associated with discontinuation of opioid agonist/partial agonist medication-assisted treatment.”
Ignoring that advice puts you at risk for experiencing these symptoms:
- Anxiousness and excitability
- Muscle aches
- Heavily watering eyes and a runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
The problems may not be as intense as you could experience when suddenly discontinuing other opioids, but tapering carefully and conscientiously can spare you the misery almost entirely.
Understand the Tapering Schedule
When Suboxone was first introduced in the United States, prescribing guidelines called for a monthlong taper. Clinical experience and controlled trials conducted during the following two years, however, showed that a well-supervised one-week taper could be as effective for preventing withdrawal and prompting relapse.
The schedule your health care providers set will depend on your situation. If you go into significant withdrawal shortly after lowering your Suboxone dose the first time, for instance, you may receive instructions to take a dose between your past maximum and the initial taper target. The taper will resume when the withdrawal symptoms abate. Again, communicating regularly and clearly with your caregiver is essential.
Look Forward to the Results of Detox
The goal of the Suboxone taper is to eliminate your cravings for both that medication and all other opioids. Once you can stop taking the drug without felling any withdrawal symptoms, you can live your life without needing to use drugs just to not feel sick. Some desire may remain, but a successful Suboxone detox is a major early step toward overcoming opioid addiction.