Is 12 Hours Long Enough to Wait to Take Suboxone?


Typically, you can wait for at least 12 hours after using short-acting opioids before taking Suboxone.

That said, the amount of time you need to wait depends on your doctor’s prescription based on the drugs you’ve taken.

If you’re exploring or currently under medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, learn how long to wait before taking Suboxone.

When to Take Suboxone

The length of time you need to wait before taking Suboxone depends on the type of opioid you last used.

Short-acting opioids, like heroin, Vicodin, and Percocet, require you to wait 12 to 24 hours before taking this medication.

On the other hand, long-acting opioids, like morphine and oxycontin, have a recommended wait time of at least 36 hours.

Meanwhile, doctors recommend taking Suboxone at least 48 hours or more if you last used maintenance medication, such as methadone.

Medical professionals determine the time you need to wait based on the type of opioid used, your last usage, and the level of your opioid dependence.

To avoid precipitated withdrawal symptoms, you should only take the first dose of Suboxone when signs of opioid withdrawal appear.

Within 24 hours after stopping using drugs, you’ll experience opioid withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Yawning often

You may also experience severe withdrawal symptoms later after the first day or so. These symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils and possibly blurry vision
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure

How Doctors Determine Dosing Times

Your medical provider will develop a personalized treatment plan by asking questions and using the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS).

Some of the questions you might be asked include:

  • What opioids do you consume regularly?
  • Do you take other opioids?
  • How much do you take per use?
  • When was your last dose?

It’s important to answer these questions honestly to help your doctor assess your opioid use disorder.

COWS features an 11-item screening tool to measure withdrawal symptoms and help doctors understand when to start and adjust your Suboxone dose. It measures the following points:

  • Pulse rate
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Pupil size
  • Bone or joint aches
  • Runny nose or watery eyes
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Tremor
  • Yawning
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Gooseflesh skin

Each symptom will be rated from 0 (normal or not present) to four (high), with five as the highest for some symptoms if it’s severe. The total score will determine your body’s reaction to sobriety, with eight to 11 indicating it’s time to start taking Suboxone.

Why Should You Wait Before Taking Suboxone?

It’s important to wait before taking Suboxone until you start experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms. Taking it too early will result in precipitated withdrawal symptoms.

Precipitated withdrawal occurs because you still have opioids in your body. As a result, it can trigger sudden and intense symptoms like headaches, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, chills, and abdominal cramps.

If you experience precipitated withdrawal, it may last for hours or a day, depending on your history of opioid use, general health, and other factors.

Note that precipitated withdrawal counts as a medical emergency. Seek the help of your medical provider immediately to discuss treatment options.

If you follow your doctor’s instructions and wait to use this medication at the recommended time, there’s no need to worry.

Generally, Suboxone is safe to use under a healthcare provider’s guidance. It contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that binds to opioid receptors for reducing symptoms. It also includes naloxone, an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids.

What Happens When Starting Suboxone Treatment?

When you start a Suboxone treatment, it means you commit to no longer taking any opioid drugs. Here’s what you can expect when you start using Suboxone.

  • Start of Withdrawal Symptoms: Notice if you have early withdrawal signs, like widened pupils and goosebumps, as this will indicate the start of your withdrawal.
  • Take Note of Your Symptoms: If your doctor uses the COWS method, you need to record your symptoms and share your score with your doctor.
  • Take Your First Suboxone Dose: When you experience moderately intense symptoms, it’s time to take your first dosage based on your doctor’s recommended dose.
  • Record Your Symptoms: After two hours, you’ll need to record your COWS score again and share it with your doctor to see if your withdrawal has reduced or increased.
  • Repeat or Adjust Accordingly: Depending on your scores, your doctor may adjust your dosage, ask you to take Suboxone again, and record your symptoms until you find the right dose.

Note that you may need to take one or two days off work at the start of your treatment to help you focus on your recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Should You Take Suboxone?

You can safely take Suboxone as long as needed, depending on your doctor’s prescription. Remember never to take, stop, or adjust Suboxone without your doctor’s recommendation.

How Long Does It Take for Suboxone to Take Effect?

It takes 20 to 60 minutes for Suboxone to kick in after taking the first dose. However, the effect may be faster or slower, depending on your history of substance abuse, age, weight, and other factors.

Access Medication-Assisted Treatment for OUD Today…

Ask your doctor for the best time to wait and take this medication.

If you need to get Suboxone immediately for your treatment, you may reach out to an emergency room, opioid treatment program, licensed doctor, and telemedicine platforms.

If you want to begin treatment for opioid abuse with the convenience and privacy of your home, you may book an appointment at Curednation. 


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