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Learn about Suboxone withdrawal symptoms

Drug rehabs in Boston have recently reported a rise in admissions for Suboxone, a powerful opioid medication that is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can be equally as severe as detoxing from heroin or other opioid drugs. However, with the right treatment, it’s possible to avoid the worst of any symptoms associated with the suboxone withdrawal process.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is the trade name for a prescription medication formulated from buprenorphine and naloxone. The formulation can be highly effective when it’s used exactly as it was prescribed.

However, as the medication has a strong narcotic effect, some people choose to misuse it. Some people will crush the medication and snort it or try to dissolve it so it can be injected into a vein. Other users may choose to use Suboxone as a way to stave off withdrawal symptoms between doses of heroin or other types of opiate drugs.

The naloxone component of the drug counteracts any of the narcotic effects the user hoped to achieve but also helps reduce the risk of accidental overdose.

How is Suboxone used?

Suboxone is intended as a treatment medication for people detoxing from other opioid drugs under medical supervision. A medically-assisted detox program is intended to alleviate the worst of any symptoms associated with detoxing from opioids.

Withdrawal from opioids can be lethal if done abruptly. For this reason, drug substitution therapy is a standard part of most medically-assisted detox programs for opioid drugs like heroin or fentanyl. Suboxone, along with methadone and morphine, is widely used by opioid detox centers for this specific application. This is because these drugs cause relatively less harm compared to the opioids that they substitute.

During drug substitution therapy, the dosage of Suboxone or other substitute opioids is gradually tapered down as the patient detoxes. By the end of the treatment program, the recovering person should be free from both drugs.

Getting through Suboxone withdrawal

Even when used exactly as prescribed, there is still a risk that some people may become dependent on the medication. If a person with an opioid use disorder tries to stop taking the drug abruptly, they will likely experience a range of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms.

The symptoms associated with Suboxone withdrawal are almost identical to those of detoxing from heroin or other opioid drugs.

Some common symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal can include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bone aches and muscle pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Flulike symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, fever, chills, heavy sweating)
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate
  • Agitation and irritation
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Depression

Someone quitting heroin by going cold turkey might feel as though the symptoms of detox are more intense, they’re shorter in duration and begin to subside much sooner. This is because heroin has a half-life of just a few minutes.

By comparison, the half-life of the treatment medication is between 24 and 60 hours. As a result, the duration of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can extend for a significantly longer period as compared to detoxing from other opioid drugs.

However, in the context of opioid substitution therapy, this longer withdrawal period is generally an acceptable trade-off compared to the significant risk of death that comes from heroin or fentanyl withdrawal. Withdrawal from Suboxone is also generally perceived to be more comfortable.

How long does Suboxone withdrawal last?

The length of time it takes to complete Suboxone withdrawal will vary depending on a range of different factors. These can include the length of use, the severity of the opioid use disorder, the dosage being taken, and whether the person is taking any other substances at the same time.

It’s also worth noting that the worst of any Suboxone withdrawal symptoms may only emerge if the person tries to quit using it by going ‘cold turkey’. By comparison, if the person enters into a specialist drug rehab center that provides Suboxone withdrawal management, some of the more unpleasant symptoms can be alleviated.

Suboxone withdrawal management programs can provide medical supervision and monitoring while the person is slowly and safely tapered off the drug. However, detox is only the first stage in a comprehensive rehab treatment program.

Get help for Suboxone withdrawal

To get clean and stay sober over the long term, rehab centers also introduce a combination of therapies, counseling sessions, and relapse prevention strategies. Suboxone withdrawal management and relapse prevention programs are designed to provide a recovering person with all the tools and resources needed to get clean and stay sober over the long term.

If you or a loved one are interested in Suboxone for opioid withdrawal or if you you have problems with Suboxone use, help is only a phone call away. Contact Boston Drug Treatment Centers at (617) 517-6448 for a listing of rehab centers that offer Suboxone rehab and to learn more about Suboxone withdrawal.