At MATClinics, we describe Suboxone as a bridge between addiction and being completely free from all opioids.
The bridge is an important part of the path to recovery because it allows Suboxone patients to go about their daily lives without having to worry about where they will get their next dose or experiencing debilitating withdrawal symptoms and cravings. But at some point, most people want to move off of the bridge and into an opioid-free life.
Understanding how to deal with Suboxone withdrawal helps Suboxone patients prepare for the challenging road ahead. Read on as we discuss how to quit Suboxone and Suboxone withdrawal tips that make the process easier.
The path to quitting Suboxone
If you’re wondering how to quit Suboxone, it is possible. But you must be prepared for a long and challenging journey ahead. Learning about how Suboxone works in the body will help you understand why quitting Suboxone requires a careful and well-developed plan.
Suboxone is an opioid replacement therapy that is classified as a partial agonist. This means that it stimulates the brain’s opioid receptors, but to a much lesser degree than a full agonist like heroin or Vicodin. Because of this, someone taking Suboxone can live a normal, functional life and avoid cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Two main factors make it very difficult to quit Suboxone:
- Suboxone has a long half-life (the time it takes for half a dose to leave the body)
- Suboxone patients have higher than normal tolerance for opioids
Even when a patient is taking a low dose of Suboxone, the medication is still filling many of the brain’s opioid receptors. This means that the transition from a low dose to no Suboxone will include unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Medical studies indicate that the best way to go about this is for your doctor to slowly taper you off of Suboxone.
How to deal with Suboxone withdrawal
If you and your doctor decide that you are at a stable point in your recovery (no relapses, manageable cravings, etc.), Suboxone weaning can begin. Remember not to rush into your decision to quit Suboxone. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states:
“The length of time a patient receives buprenorphine [Suboxone] is tailored to meet the needs of each patient, and in some cases, treatment can be indefinite…”
Once you discontinue Suboxone use, you’ll begin experiencing withdrawals. Common symptoms during Suboxone withdrawals are similar to the ones experienced during withdrawal from other opioids. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
The following Suboxone withdrawal tips will help you cope with the discomfort and challenges that accompany Suboxone withdrawals.
- Speak with your doctor and form a plan. Entering a period of withdrawal can be scary. Get your questions answered and voice concerns about the process to your doctor. Problems like nausea and increased cravings are common. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications that mitigate these symptoms without interrupting the withdrawal process.
- Prepare for the physical effects. Detoxing from Suboxone may feel like a bad case of the flu. Prepare for rapid body temperature changes with blankets, a fan, ice packs, and heating pads. Hydrate with water and electrolyte beverages throughout the detox. Compile distractions like movies, books or magazines, or video games to take your mind off the pain.
- Have a support system in place. The emotional toll that withdrawal takes is no small matter. You may experience mood swings at some point along the journey. Have a trusted friend, partner or family member by your side during this difficult time. Another option for mental wellness is to increase visits to a support group or substance abuse counselor. You can even enroll in an online addiction support group so that you can get encouragement no matter where you are.
- Incorporate physical activity into your routine. Once you get over the harsh physical effects of Suboxone withdrawals, begin to make movement a part of your daily routine. Try yoga, hiking, riding a bike or another fun activity that helps endorphins flow. Not only are these activities great for your health, but they also keep your mind occupied so that cravings or negative thoughts don’t dominate your days.
How long does Suboxone withdrawal last?
Because Suboxone stays in the body longer than many opioids, the withdrawal symptoms take longer to appear.
Typically, Suboxone withdrawals begin two to four days after the patient stops taking the medication. The length of time that withdrawal lasts depends on multiple factors, including:
- The length of time the individual was taking Suboxone
- The individual’s Suboxone dose before discontinuing use
- The individual’s tolerance for opioids
Most physical withdrawal symptoms subside after one month, with the most painful and uncomfortable symptoms receding after the first 72 hours. Tapering off of Suboxone gradually is one way to mitigate harsh withdrawal symptoms.
Get the Support You Need at MATClinics
Whether you are considering Suboxone as a step to recovery or are ready to stop using Suboxone, MATClinics is here to help. Our team of experienced Suboxone doctors and certified counselors offer support and guidance as you navigate the best path for you.
To learn more about our treatment centers across Maryland and how we can set you up on the path to an opioid-free life, contact MATClinics today.