What is Precipitated Withdrawal from Suboxone®?

Withdrawal is an uncomfortable but normal component of the opioid addiction recovery process. In some cases, however, the withdrawal is intense and dangerous. Precipitated withdrawal from Suboxone® treatment falls into this category.

In this guide, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about precipitated withdrawal, including:

  • How long does precipitated withdrawal last?
  • When is it safe to take Suboxone®?
  • How can you get rid of precipitated withdrawal?

For a deeper understanding of precipitated withdrawal from Suboxone®, read below.

Precipitated Withdrawal on Suboxone®

When a patient takes their first dose of Suboxone®, they should already be in a state of withdrawal from the opioids they were previously using. They will experience symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety, body aches and more. These symptoms are uncomfortable; however, this is a normal part of the treatment process.

However, if a patient takes Suboxone® before they have reached a sufficient withdrawal stage, a severe form of withdrawal, known as precipitated withdrawal, occurs.

Precipitated withdrawal is extreme withdrawal caused by taking buprenorphine (an ingredient in Suboxone®) before other opioids have had time to retreat from opioid receptors.

A typical opioid withdrawal period happens gradually over days or weeks, depending on the drug. On the other hand, precipitated withdrawal can speed this process up at a dangerous rate, causing severe pain and increasing the potential for relapse.  

Read on for more information about the health risks associated with precipitated withdrawals.

Precipitated Withdrawal Symptoms

As you can imagine, going through precipitated withdrawal is exceedingly difficult. That’s why our Suboxone® doctors work closely with patients to mitigate the risk of it occurring.

Precipitated withdrawal occurs suddenly and severely. Symptoms of typical withdrawal are intensified during this type of withdrawal. These include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Severe sweating
  • High fever
  • Excessive diarrhea
  • Intense muscle aches
  • Excessive vomiting

Whereas patients enduring typical withdrawals can generally get through it at home, those enduring precipitated withdrawal are often hospitalized. Acute dehydration often sets in and a doctor must administer fluids.  

Enduring precipitated withdrawal is a horrible experience. But is there a way to treat it? Below, we’ll discuss the medical response to precipitated withdrawal.

Precipitated Withdrawal Treatment

While there is no singular treatment that will reverse precipitated withdrawal, there are options that can lessen symptoms' severity. Research demonstrates that providing microdoses of Suboxone® can decrease the length of time that precipitated withdrawals last. This treatment can also help in decreasing the intensity of the symptoms.

Other medications, such as anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medications, also help calming patients and reduce discomfort during this period. Doctors are still exploring treatment options that can combat precipitated withdrawal. However, the best course of action is prevention. Read on to learn about avoiding precipitated withdrawal.  

Suboxone® Treatment and Timing

Fortunately, precipitated withdrawal is avoidable. The key factor in avoiding precipitated withdrawal is the timing of dosing. A patient should be in the mild withdrawal stage before taking their first dose of Suboxone®.

A doctor will help the patient determine how long to wait to take Suboxone®. Using a tool such as The Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale (COWS), a doctor can assess whether or not a patient is ready to take their first Suboxone® dose.

It's critical that the patient communicates the extent of their drug use with their doctor. If a patient conceals the details about the drug usage and doses, the chances of precipitated withdrawal increase dramatically. Your doctor can provide the most accurate recommendations for Suboxone® dosing with the appropriate information and reduce your chances of experiencing precipitated withdrawal.

Start Your Journey to Recovery at MATClinics

With a team of experienced doctors and caring, qualified medical staff, MATClinics is here to help you break free from opioid addiction. Our Maryland clinics offer flexible, personalized treatment plans based on the needs of each individual. If you have questions about Suboxone® or want to know more about how we can help you recover, contact us today!

Speak to a member of our team to schedule a New Patient visit, or just to get more information.

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