Suboxone Detox: What to Expect, How to Do It, and More

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Suboxone detox occurs when someone stops taking the medication. It is important to know what to expect when you are coming off the medication, and to do so under medical supervision and guidance.

In this guide, we will discuss exactly what to expect from the detox process, including:

  • Why someone may choose to detox from Suboxone
  • The best way to detox from the medication
  • Whether you can detox at home
  • What withdrawal symptoms to expect
  • The timeline of withdrawal.

Let’s get into it.

Understanding Suboxone’s Components

Suboxone is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to treat Opioid Use Disorder. Suboxone effectively reduces withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings. The medication achieves this using two active ingredients: Buprenorphine and Naloxone.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This means that it weakly binds to the same place as other opioids do.

As it binds there,  it reduces physical withdrawal symptoms and acts on the brain to reduce drug cravings. However, it does not bind strongly enough to produce euphoria in people who are opioid naive.

Naloxone

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. Naloxone is added to block opioid receptors when people try to misuse the medication. This prevents people from injecting the medication, for example. Alone, it is also used to treat opioid overdoses.

The Reasons for Detoxing from Suboxone

Successful treatment completion

For some people who have suffered from opioid addiction, their journey to sobriety requires them to slowly taper off Suboxone.

Although Suboxone is a useful tool to reduce withdrawal symptoms in people who decide to stop their opioid use, the medication still contains an opioid component.

These people may choose to detox from Suboxone. This must involve slowly tapering off the dose, under medical supervision.

Side effects or concerns with long-term use

Like all medications, Suboxone has certain side effects.

Some people who use Suboxone may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, constipation, and insomnia, which interferes with their quality of life. Others may experience psychological symptoms such as anxiety and tiredness.

Although addiction to Suboxone is rare, there is a risk of dependence on Suboxone which people who use long-term medication may be concerned with.

Personal choice under medical advice

The road to recovery is a personal journey for everyone. However, some people may feel their goal in recovery is to be free from any medication, including Suboxone.

This is a common reason for people to try and taper off their Suboxone use, with the help of a medical professional who understands their needs.

How to Detox from Suboxone

The most important place to start if you are thinking of detoxing from Suboxone is to talk to your doctor.

Your doctor will guide you through this process and ensure that you have the necessary support. They may also suggest you access a counselor or mental health worker to help your detox remain successful.

Here are some general guidelines for detoxing from Suboxone:

  • Consulting with your doctor: Consulting with your doctor, whether your family GP or someone who works at a specialist opioid treatment program is the best place to start. They will guide you through the process to ensure it is as successful as possible
  • Tapering off: When you stop taking Suboxone, you will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms. Tapering off the medication will help reduce these. Your healthcare physician will plan this out with you and can prescribe you smaller and smaller doses
  • Symptom management: Because Suboxone detox can result in withdrawal symptoms, a healthcare professional can prescribe short regimes of medications to help manage these (for example, anti-nausea tablets)
  • Counseling and other support: Counselling and behavioral therapy can be an extremely useful tool in Suboxone detox.

Mental health workers can help address the psychological aspects of addiction and develop coping strategies to maintain long-term recovery. Engaging communities such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can also be helpful.

Can You Detox From Suboxone at Home?

Yes, you can detox from Suboxone at home. However, it should be done under medical supervision.

What this means is that you should have consulted with a licensed physician to set up a detox plan. This often involves recognizing symptoms of withdrawal, knowing how to minimize them, and taking reduced doses in a controlled manner.

It is also important to have adequate support at home. This will make the process significantly easier.

Having regular doctor’s appointments booked to follow up will also help you access help with managing withdrawal symptoms.

What Happens During A Suboxone Detox?

If you have decided to stop using Suboxone and have met with a doctor to discuss this, they will help you set up a Suboxone detox plan.

They will also prescribe you gradually decreasing doses of the medication. The period of time when the doses decreased is done gradually over a few weeks or months.

Taking these exactly as prescribed will help minimize the withdrawal symptoms you will experience.

Symptoms of Suboxone Withdrawal

Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal are similar to opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, they are often milder.

Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches/Body Aches
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Indigestion
  • Mood changes including anxiety, depression and irritability
  • Drug cravings
  • Fever, chills and sweating
  • Difficulties concentrating.

Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline

Because Suboxone is usually tapered off, the symptom withdrawal should be quite uniform. However, there is a general pattern when Suboxone is discontinued:

  • First 24 Hours: Mild anxiety, restlessness, and cravings may start
  • Day 2 to 3: More significant anxiety, muscle aches, sweating, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, loss of appetite, and intense cravings occur
  • Days 4 to 7: Symptoms begin to taper off, and sleep patterns improve. However, anxiety, restlessness, and stomach issues may persist
  • Week 2: Easing of physical symptoms with some mood problems and drug cravings persisting
  • Week 3 Onwards: Psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, and cravings may persist but are less intense.

Conclusion

There are numerous reasons why someone who has an opioid addiction may want to slowly stop using Suboxone.

It is important to consult with a health professional to formulate a treatment plan if this is something you are considering. While withdrawal symptoms are almost inevitable, tapering off the dose of Suboxone will help manage the withdrawal process and make the overall process much easier.

It is important to remember that the most successful journeys through sobriety often involve proper support and encouragement we all will need at some point.

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