Many drug rehab facilities offer detox programs as a phase of treatment for addiction. The medical professionals who oversee these programs and administer the treatment must consider withdrawal symptoms during this phase. Withdrawal symptoms vary from drug to drug, but in the number and intensity. Although Suboxone is used to treat opioid dependence and withdrawal symptoms, it can still be addictive if misused. It can also have its own withdrawal symptoms. The good news is, there is Suboxone withdrawal help available.
If you want to enter recovery from Suboxone addiction, you’re probably wondering what to expect from withdrawal and asking yourself, “How long does Suboxone withdrawal last?” Many people are fearful about the detox process and may delay seeking help. This page will provide an overview of Suboxone withdrawal, including topics like duration of detox, the physical symptoms you may experience, and the various side effects you may feel. You’ll also find a Suboxone withdrawal timeline. Your experience with Suboxone withdrawal and Suboxone detox largely depends on the facility you choose. In order to help you sift through your options, this page will covers the types of detox that work best for Suboxone addiction.
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Signs of Suboxone Withdrawal
During withdrawal, your body is doing a lot of work. Thus, you can expect to experience certain physical symptoms as well as psychological symptoms as you undergo detox. Co-occurring mental health issues may emerge. Some detox and treatment facilities (such as The Recovery Village) offer expert assistance in handling Suboxone withdrawal symptoms. A good treatment center aims to make your detox experience as comfortable as possible. Some of the most common physical symptoms of detox are:
- Hot or Cold Flashes – You may experience a sudden, intense feeling of either heat or coldness all over your body.
- Skin Abnormalities – You may feel physically uncomfortable in your own skin or even feel as if bugs are crawling on you. You also may develop goosebumps from time to time.
- Tiredness – As your body rids itself of Suboxone, you will likely feel fatigued.
- Muscle Discomfort – This may manifest as pain and cramps across your whole body.
- Drug Cravings – It is natural to experience both physical and mental Suboxone cravings.
- Sweating – Due to the dehydrating properties of Suboxone, sweating (and night sweats in particular) commonly occurs during withdrawal. Sweating is also one avenue the body uses to remove Suboxone from your system.
- Nausea and Vomiting – Although unpleasant, these symptoms are common when withdrawing from drugs that impact the brain’s opioid receptors.
- Appetite Loss – A high-quality treatment center will ensure that you remain properly nourished, even if you do not feel like eating.
- Diarrhea – Not only is diarrhea uncomfortable, but it is also dehydrating. To mitigate this, you will need to drink lots of water and possibly even use some medications to help your body to better adjust to being without Suboxone.
- Sleep Trouble – Insomnia can snowball into other problems, so The Recovery Village® prioritizes good sleep for everyone undergoing detox. Sleep aid medications may help you get much-needed rest.
Some of the most common psychological symptoms of detox are:
- Irritability or Moodiness – Your brain is no longer receiving floods of dopamine, so you may be irritable, especially during the beginning stages of Suboxone detox.
- Depression and/or Suicidality – Unfortunately, these unpleasant feelings may occur. That is why The Recovery Village®’s staff keeps in close touch with each patient undergoing detox. If your depression is severe, your treatment team may consider medicinal remedies.
- Anxiety – It is normal to feel anxious when you are learning to live without Suboxone. Anxiety will subside as you adjust. Like depression, severe anxiety may call for a drug-based remedy.
- Other Co-occurring Disorders – In addition to depression and anxiety, withdrawal can cause underlying mental health problems to erupt and rise to the surface. For example, say that a woman has been using Suboxone for 10 years because it numbs her feelings of anger and emptiness. When she detoxes from the drug, she will feel those emotions without the blinders of Suboxone. She may have been suffering from borderline personality disorder for many years without any knowledge of her condition. These feelings can be disconcerting, especially if she has never seen a psychiatrist or other diagnostician who could provide information about the reasons behind her intense feelings.
Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline
Have you ever asked, “How long does Suboxone withdrawal last?” Compared to most other opioids, Suboxone takes longer to act on your body and also remains active for a greater length of time. Because of these characteristics, the time associated with opioid withdrawal syndrome is altered at either end. In other words, because Suboxone is a long-acting drug, withdrawal symptoms do not set in as quickly as they do for other opioids and they also last longer. This can make Suboxone withdrawal more difficult.
Suboxone withdrawal neither takes place all at once nor drags on forever. Rather, it is a multi-stage process. Here is a timeline that shows when certain symptoms tend to show up during the detox process. Note that these times may deviate for you, depending on your unique body chemistry.
- Days 1 – 3: Physical symptoms may begin to show up within 6 – 12 hours after you last abused Suboxone. You may experience muscle pain, nausea and diarrhea, but your treatment team can provide medications to ease these symptoms.
- Days 4 – 7: You may experience insomnia as your body eliminates the Suboxone. This is when you may begin to feel some of the psychological impacts of withdrawal, which may include anxiety and irritability.
- Weeks 2 – 4: Once the first week is complete, many people become more prone to depression. Your treatment team can help you through this co-occurring disorder with talk therapy and possibly medicinal intervention.
- Month 2+: At this point, relapse prevention is crucial. Though Suboxone is out of your system, your brain is still wired to crave the drug. In fact, Suboxone cravings can occur years after you’ve used the drug.
Coping with Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
There are multiple mechanisms and strategies available to help you cope with withdrawal. Some can be done at home, while others are only available at a treatment facility. For example, at home, you do not have access to an onsite therapist or doctor. Addiction therapists can help you identify and manage any emotions that you feel during withdrawal. Doctors with experience in addiction medicine know what to take for Suboxone withdrawal, and can guide you towards the most effective medications. Regardless of where you are, you will want to engage in the following healthy habits:
- Exercise – A healthy body helps maintain a healthy mind. Studies have shown time and time again that exercise boosts endorphins, which are the brain’s “feel good” chemicals.
- Eat Healthfully – The importance of proper nutrition during withdrawal cannot be overstated. Your body is crying out in discomfort, but you can soothe it by eating lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains. Eat even if you do not feel hungry.
- Hydrate – As your body works to remove Suboxone from your system via vomiting, diarrhea and sweating, you will likely become dehydrated. To make sure you’re staying safe during detox, it’s important to drink lots of water. This can also help to flush toxins from your body. If you drink hot tea to soothe you during this time, make sure it’s a hydrating tea that doesn’t have a diuretic effect.
- Interaction – Humans are social creatures. We need support from one another, especially during difficult times like Suboxone detox. Reach out to the people around you for support.
- Fun – Make time to do the things you love. Maybe you enjoy painting or playing soccer. Not only do these activities serve as a distraction from cravings, but they also invite joy back into your life.
Whether you are at home or in a treatment center, you may benefit from using some over-the-counter medications. A few common remedies that can help you cope with Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Non-prescription painkillers (Ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen)
- Anti-nausea medications (Pepto-Bismol)
- Stomach settling remedies (Ginger ale)
- Antacids (Tums)
- Anti-diarrheals (loperamide)
Managing Drug Addiction Without Suboxone
Perhaps your addiction involves another opioid, such as heroin or Vicodin. When seeking treatment for your opioid addiction, you may be offered Suboxone. However, you may not wish to take any addictive drugs at all during detox. If that is the case, then Suboxone is probably not an ideal detox medication for you. Instead of using Suboxone, you can consider doing a non-medicated detox. Though this approach may be more difficult, it eliminates the possibility that you will develop another addiction. It also allows you to live your life without needing maintenance doses of Suboxone. In order for a non-medicated detox program to be effective, it should include some key factors:
- Highly Experienced Staff – Clinicians must possess significant knowledge of the drug detox process if they are to guide you through it without medication assistance.
- Group Therapy Options – While one-on-one therapy is necessary, peer support is crucial during withdrawal — especially if you’re not leaning on Suboxone. The people around you can help keep you accountable and provide support during difficult periods.
- Alternative Therapies – Rather than focusing wholly on formally recognized treatment methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a non-medicated detox program should provide alternative options such as equine, art, or sports therapy.
- Intensive Aftercare – Without a medicinal crutch, aftercare is more important than ever. People who take Suboxone must regularly visit their clinician to obtain their medication. This visit often doubles as an accountability check-in during which the clinician can assess the addict and detect any drug abuse that may be present. Without that regular visit, you may find it harder to avoid opioids. Thus, you will need to pay special attention to your aftercare plan if you intend to detox from opioids without Suboxone or any other addictive medications.
A few of the most common side effects of stopping Suboxone abuse cold turkey include:
- Inability to fall or stay asleep
- Fatigue Severe night sweats
- Cold and flu symptoms
- Body aches
- General malaise
- Inability to concentrate
- Diarrhea (following constipation)
- Intense moodiness
- Suicidal ideation
Medically Supervised Suboxone Detox
Although detox can sometimes take place at home, it is far more comfortable to undergo the process under medical supervision at a place like The Recovery Village. You can even undergo detox as soon as you enter inpatient rehab. Treatment professionals have significant experience helping people through drug detox and can address both your physical and mental symptoms. There are many benefits to medically-supervised detox, for example:
- Precision in Tapering – Detox professionals are able to calculate and determine the amounts of Suboxone you should receive during each stage of tapering, and when to progress to the next stage with a lower dose. The measurement equipment available at a professional facility ensures that you receive these exact amounts, and that you stay on track with your scheduled doses.
- Physical Comfort – Prescription detox medications are only available through a qualified medical doctor who is educated in addiction medicine. In the absence of a doctor, you will be forced to undergo detox without the benefit of these medications. Additionally, you do not need to worry about preparing your own meals or cleaning up your home space. At The Recovery Village®, we take care of daily chores for you so that you can rest as much as you need to and focus on bringing your body back to health.
- Emotional Comfort – Without the numbing crutch of Suboxone, withdrawal brings out a lot of the emotions that have been buried for a long time. For that reason, we have mental health professionals — such as therapists and psychiatrists — onsite at all times if you need to talk to someone while you are going through withdrawal.
- Safety – In addition to comfort, safety is also an issue with home detox. It is highly unusual to die from Suboxone withdrawal, but there are risks nonetheless. For example, you may develop severe depression and suicidality due to the drop in dopamine flowing in your brain. If you detox at home, you will be forced to face this daunting illness alone. It is better to be around experts who have successfully helped many people through detox.
- Relapse Risk – If you detox at home, you lack the constant supervision that is available at a medical detox facility. Often the symptoms of withdrawal become so unmanageable that addicts have no choice but to return to Suboxone use.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Opioid Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction in Pregnancy.” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2016, www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Health-Care-for-Underserved-Women/Opioid-Abuse-Dependence-and-Addiction-in-Pregnancy#5. Accessed 1 March 2017.
Indivior, Inc. “Prescribing information.” SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and Naloxone) Sublingual Film (CIII), Indivior Inc., Dec. 2016, www.suboxone.com/content/pdfs/prescribing-information.pdf. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
Indivior, Inc. “Side Effects and Adverse Events.” SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and Naloxone) Sublingual Film (CIII), Indivior Inc., www.suboxone.com/medical-treatment/side-effects-adverse-events. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.