Suboxone is a medication used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings during addiction recovery. While it is prescribed to help reduce these symptoms, some people also experience withdrawal symptoms when the medication itself is discontinued.
This guide will cover what you can expect from Suboxone withdrawal, as well as when you can start to expect easing of your symptoms. We will also cover:
- Suboxone withdrawal timeline
- Symptoms you may experience
- When symptoms will likely ease
- If you can quit cold turkey
- If generic buprenorphine alone is better than Suboxone.
Let’s get into it.
What is Suboxone Withdrawal?
Suboxone is an FDA-approved medication used for Medication Assisted Treatment, in people who are opioid dependent. However, if you decide to come off this medication, you will likely experience some degree of withdrawal symptoms.
Because Suboxone contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, withdrawal symptoms are similar to that of other opioids. However, because the doses are lower than other prescription opioids or illegal opioids, the withdrawal people experience from Suboxone is usually milder in comparison.
If you are thinking of coming off Suboxone, your healthcare professional can help you taper off the dose to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Suboxone withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person.
Some people will only experience mild withdrawal symptoms, while others may experience more severe effects. It is important to consult with a doctor who can help manage these symptoms.
Some common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Sweating and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Teary eyes.
The Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline
The timeline for suboxone withdrawal symptoms may vary from person to person. However, many people will experience their withdrawal symptoms in quite a predictable manner.
Here’s how the timeline may look:
First 24 hours
People may start noticing some acute withdrawal symptoms in the first 24 hours since their last dose. During this period, you may experience some mild anxiety, restlessness, and cravings.
- Mild anxiety
- Cravings start.
Day 2 to 3
It is usually in the first couple of days where you will experience the most severe of the withdrawal symptoms. If you feel withdrawal symptoms in the first 24 hours, you will likely experience a more intense version of these in the next day or two.
- More significant anxiety
- Muscle aches
- Flu-like symptoms
- Intense opioid cravings.
Days 4 to 7
The good news is that once you have made it through the first 3 days of withdrawal, you will likely see an improvement in symptoms by day 4. Although you are still likely to experience some anxiety, restlessness, and digestive issues, these will begin to taper off.
By the 6 to 7-day mark, many of these physical withdrawal symptoms begin to subside. Drug cravings may still be present, but they tend to start slowly decreasing.
- Symptoms begin to taper off
- Anxiety, restlessness, and stomach unrest may persist
- Sleep patterns will begin to return to normal.
If you have made it this far, you have done most of the heavy lifting! By the second week mark, most of the intense physical withdrawal symptoms would have subsided.
While some symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia may linger, they are usually manageable. Some people may also find it difficult to sleep.
- Easing of physical symptoms
- Some mood problems may be present
- Less severe cravings compared to week 1
- Some sleep problems may be present.
Week 3 Onwards
While many people may find this frustrating, some psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, and cravings will likely persist. Although they will be significantly less intense than in the previous 3 weeks, it is important to stay vigilant.
By week 4, most people will find that their withdrawal symptoms have significantly diminished. However, it is still crucial to stay connected with your support system, which may include therapy, support groups, and medical professionals to prevent relapse.
How Long Do Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
It is hard to say with certainty how long Suboxone withdrawal symptoms last as everyone is different.
Some of the factors affecting how long withdrawal symptoms last include:
- How quickly the medication is tapered off
- What dose of Suboxone was taken
- How long someone was using Suboxone for
- How severe their opioid addiction
- The use of other medications to control withdrawal symptoms
- Social and psychological support.
While the most severe symptoms are experienced in the first 2-4 days of withdrawal, symptoms may persist for a month or longer.
Can You Quit Suboxone Right Away?
It is usually not recommended to quit Suboxone ‘cold turkey’, as this will likely result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Healthcare professionals working in treatment centers will work alongside you to slowly taper off your dose. They will also give you any medication needed to help control withdrawal symptoms.
What’s Better: Suboxone or Generic Buprenorphine?
Generic buprenorphine, also sold under the generic name Subutex, contains only buprenorphine. Meanwhile, Suboxone contains naloxone, an opioid antagonist which prevents intravenous misuse of the medication.
This makes it more likely for doctors to prescribe Suboxone over generic buprenorphine alone. There is little evidence on which one is better for the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
In saying that, both medications can effectively treat opioid withdrawal symptoms and are shown to be safer than methadone treatment.
While Suboxone is a great tool to use to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, there is a risk associated with experiencing withdrawal from the medication.
These symptoms peak in the first few days and slowly subside over a few weeks. It is important to take the medication under medical supervision.
If you are thinking of coming off the medication, a doctor will help you taper the medication to try to manage any withdrawal symptoms.