Suboxone withdrawal can be painful, difficult, and long-lasting. Although the medication has proven useful for many people, the effects of coming off it can create a challenge.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone® is the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, and is used as a method of opioid replacement therapy. Initially introduced in the 1980’s, the mix of buprenorphine and naloxone helps to relieve symptoms of withdrawal from opioids. Whether an individual is withdrawing from Percocet, heroin, or morphine, Suboxone can be an effective aid in treating symptoms of withdrawal.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine, a compound found in the opium poppy. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine reaches the opioid receptors in the brain and can ease symptoms of withdrawal without producing the strong high that may be experienced with full agonists like heroin or oxycodone.
Naloxone, the other compound in Suboxone, effectively blocks the effects of opioids. When taking naloxone, somebody may use opioids but will not experience the euphoria or high normally produced. In addition to being a part of Suboxone, naloxone is sold as Narcan. Narcan is an injection given to those suffering from opioid overdose, and can reverse the effects of an overdose. When taken with buprenorphine, naloxone prevents a user from getting high from taking opioids.
Generally speaking, Suboxone is prescribed while an individual is coming off an opioid drug. Some individuals take it for a few days, while others may stay on it for months or years. Although the addiction treatment community seems to have varying opinions on it, current research on Suboxone suggests it to be an effective form of treatment.
What Causes Withdrawals?
Withdrawals begin when somebody stops taking Suboxone or lowers their dose. Because an individual has been taking the drug regularly, the brain has grown accustomed to functioning with it present. Lowering your dose can bring withdrawal symptoms, and you may go through Suboxone withdrawal cold turkey if you stop taking it completely. Withdrawal occurs because your brain is adapting to working without the substance present. This can cause a variety of symptoms in the brain and the physical body.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal may vary greatly. Each person has an individual case, and symptoms are dependent on the length of use, the individual’s health and body weight, and what dose they were taking. People who taper off Suboxone are likely to experience less severe symptoms than those that quit cold turkey. Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal include:
- Muscle stiffness and aches
- Insomnia and daytime sleepiness
- Indigestion and stomach aches
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Irritability and anger
- Fever, sweating, and chills
- Headache and neck stiffness
- Difficulty focusing
- Nausea and vomiting
Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline
Suboxone withdrawal length may vary from individual to individual, and there are a variety of factors that may affect the timeline. These factors include how long the individual has been using, what their dose is, their individual weight and health, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders.
The general timeline of withdrawal from Suboxone looks like this:
During the first few days, symptoms generally get worse. They are likely to peak at around 72 hours after your last dose. During these first few days physical symptoms are generally at their worst, and the individual may experience nausea, vomiting, and sweating.
During the following few days, an individual will likely experience muscle pain and aches. They also may experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Mood swings and depression may begin to arise during this first week.
This period will generally see the symptoms begin to subside. Physical pain will improve, nausea and vomiting will subside, and the body will regain some energy. However, the person may begin to experience severe cravings and mood swings.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may continue for a few weeks. During these weeks, an individual may find themselves experiencing intense cravings, bouts with depression, and irregular sleeping patterns. Because of dopamine depletion, the person may have difficulty experiencing joy or pleasure from normally pleasurable activities for weeks or months.
Suboxone Detox and Treatment
Suboxone is an opioid, and coming off it by yourself can be quite uncomfortable. Many people who try to detox from Suboxone at home end up relapsing due the the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms,, and it’s imperative you receive professional help in coming off the substance. At a medically-managed detox facility, trained clinicians and doctors will help you to come off Suboxone in the most comfortable and safe manner possible.
If you’re wondering how to deal with Suboxone withdrawal, we strongly recommending reaching out for help. At an addiction treatment center, you will be offered medical care, clinical attention, and a set of tools to get off Suboxone and live a healthy life in recovery.