Suboxone Withdrawal & Detox Program

Authored by First City Recovery Center    Reviewed by Dr. Vahid Osman    Last Updated: October 1st, 2021


Dr. Vahid Osman Medical Reviewer
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN. Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Around 8% to 12% of people using opioids for pain management develop an opioid use disorder. Once a person develops opioid dependence, it becomes difficult to quit, and abruptly stopping can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms with life-threatening complications. Luckily, the FDA approved drug Suboxone can help clients suffering from opioid use disorder to get off the substance safely and prevent such issues. When used correctly, Suboxone relieves opioid withdrawal symptoms without making you feel high. Read on to learn more about this drug.

How Does Suboxone Detox Work?

Suboxone contains a weak opioid called buprenorphine and an opioid blocker known as naloxone, which limits the uptake of opioids to the brain. The buprenorphine doesn’t bind to the same receptors as the opioids, so the euphoria is less pronounced. As a result, the withdrawal symptoms are milder, so it can help a person wean from an addiction to more powerful opioids.

Detox involves cutting off opioids to get rid of the toxins in your blood. You should begin to take Suboxone only when all other opioids are out of your system. The doctor will introduce small doses of Suboxone over a predetermined period. Suboxone detox will decrease your opioid cravings, which will help prevent relapse.

When you opt for supervised detox, you will receive around-the-clock monitoring. You will benefit from expert advice and support in a structured program. A qualified doctor will adjust the treatment plan when needed and create a supportive environment that is trigger-free. This increases your chances of total recovery.

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

While Suboxone is an effective drug that aids in treating opioid use disorder, clients will need to use it for months or even years after they stop taking the addictive opioids. Note that even regular doses can cause Suboxone dependence. This mainly happens to people who previously abused opioids to the extent of getting vulnerable to any opioid’s influence.

When you try quitting Suboxone abruptly, it results in a chemical imbalance in your entire body. This leads to symptoms similar to those that come with traditional opioid withdrawal, but they are less severe. Some are very uncomfortable, though, and can affect treatment. Some of the most common physical symptoms include:

• Intense cold or hot flushes all over the body
• Skin irritation
• Tiredness
• Muscle pain and cramps
• Suboxone cravings
• Excessive sweating
• Nausea and vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Insomnia
• Diarrhea
• Indigestion
• Watery eyes and runny nose
• Obsession with acquiring more of the drug

Besides the physical symptoms, expect to experience some psychological effects as well. During the initial stages of Suboxone detox, your body doesn’t receive enough dopamine, so you can quickly get moody or irritable. For other clients, they might slip into depression and develop suicidal thoughts. That is why First City Recovery Center stays in touch with each client undergoing detox. For people with severe depression, we might suggest some medicinal remedies. Another common symptom of Suboxone withdrawal is anxiety. For most people, the anxiety subsides as you adjust, but you might need a drug-based treatment in severe cases. Withdrawal can also trigger underlying mental disorders that were previously muted by drug use.

Length of Suboxone Withdrawal

Suboxone takes longer to act on your body compared to other drugs, so it remains active for an extended period. Buprenorphine has a half-life of up to 42 hours compared to other opioids like morphine, which has a half-life of around 27 hours. With Suboxone’s longer half-life, you will not experience withdrawal symptoms as quickly as with other opioids, but you can expect them to last longer.

Since it stays in the body longer, it helps reduce cravings for more potent opioids when used as prescribed. However, this makes the withdrawal from Suboxone without medical assistance very difficult. It’s a good idea to get into a withdrawal treatment program to help you through this process. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms develop in a multi-stage process.

Beyond the First 24 Hours

After 24 hours without the drug, you will begin to experience the first symptoms of withdrawal. They include general discomfort, anxiety, and fatigue. Other people feel like they have a cold.

After 72 Hours

The withdrawal symptoms get intense within 72 hours. You may experience gastrointestinal problems, headaches, fever, chills, insomnia, and muscle aches. This is a very crucial time to seek professional assistance. Your doctor may administer some medications to ease the symptoms. Without proper care, this period brings along symptoms that increase your risk of relapse.

One Week

After four to seven days without the drug, you begin to experience the psychological effects of withdrawal, such as anxiety and irritability. As your body tries to eliminate the Suboxone, you may have insomnia, too. However, this marks the turning point of the withdrawal period as well. Within the first week, some symptoms begin to disappear.

Two Weeks to One Month

After the first week, more people become prone to depression. Drug cravings, anxiety, and depression can continue within the first month. You, therefore, need to talk with your therapist and let them know how you are feeling to address any co-occurring disorders.

Over Two Months

At this point, the Suboxone is out of your body, but you may still be craving the drug. Note that Suboxone cravings can last for years. Some people still experience signs of depression. The main aim here is to prevent relapse. Keep in mind that persistent drug cravings mean that there is a risk of relapse. So, stay in touch with your treatment team throughout this period.

Several factors affect the length of time that Suboxone stays in your body. This includes the number of drugs you took to get high and how long you used the drug. Other factors include co-ingestion with other substances, your age, and body fat composition. Suboxone isn’t ideal for people with reduced liver function. Also, a person with low urine pH will excrete the Suboxone at a faster rate.

How to Cope With Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

To manage Suboxone withdrawal symptoms effectively, you should taper the drug off slowly with the help of a medical expert. If you have been acquiring the Suboxone illegally, you need to talk with your doctor to help you gradually reduce the intake. When a person attempts to quit Suboxone without medical oversight, it could lead to some complications. People who try to stop on their own are also more likely to relapse. This is particularly dangerous if you get tempted to take a higher dose after the body thoroughly flushed the Suboxone. Your body is no longer tolerant, and this can lead to an overdose.

If you are still struggling with withdrawal, the doctor may administer some support medications to ease the symptoms even after cutting them off. Lucemyra is one effective FDA-approved non-opioid treatment for mitigation of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Other remedies that can help you cope with the symptoms include:

• Multivitamins
• Antacids
• Anti-nausea medicine like Pepto-Bismol
• Anti-diarrhea medications
• Painkillers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin

Besides taking medications, if you struggle with Suboxone withdrawal, you will need to engage in healthy lifestyle habits. Exercise often since workouts stimulate the production of endorphins, “feel-good” neurotransmitters that help maintain a healthy body and brain. Practice some relaxation techniques like meditation or listening to music to help fight anxiety. Also, ensure that you hydrate often. You will likely lose an excessive amount of water as the body removes Suboxone through sweating and other processes. Drinking a lot of water during detox will help with flushing the toxins out of the body as well.

During this period, stay in touch with your close friends and family for social interactions. Humans are social creatures who need support, especially in difficult moments. Also, remember to eat a balanced diet. Detox creates some discomfort in your body, so you will need to soothe it with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Try to eat even when you don’t feel hungry to keep your electrolyte and vitamin levels up.

Spare some time to do the things you love. During withdrawal, focusing on fun activities like watching TV, playing games, or reading a book will distract you from the cravings. Stay in contact with your doctor and let them know how you feel to help you develop new coping techniques. You can also get more support by joining local community groups that aid in drug abuse recovery.

Controlling Drug Addiction Without Suboxone

Treating opioid use disorder requires a combination of treatment methods. Unfortunately, some people end up relapsing even after detoxing. This is why it’s essential to undergo the detox process under medical supervision in a facility like First City Recovery Center. After using Suboxone to treat your addiction, you need to enroll in therapy to prevent relapse.

Also, if you don’t want to use any addictive drug to treat your opioid use disorder, you can opt for non-medicated detox. This will require guidance from highly experienced physicians with vast knowledge in drug detox. The professional should be very aware of the issues that contribute to the client’s current situation. They should also offer a personalized treatment plan. If you aren’t using Suboxone, peer support is very crucial during withdrawal.

It is advised that you join group therapy options for accountability and support. Rather than focusing entirely on therapy, the non-medicated detox program should concentrate on nurturing art, sports, and hobbies. Aftercare is critical. You need to visit your doctor often for checkups. For a long-term treatment plan, you can consider any of the following treatment options from First City Recovery Center.

Partial Hospitalization Program

After completing the detox program, a health professional may recommend that you enroll in a partial hospitalization treatment program. For this option, you get intense care during the day at the rehab center and later head home after the session. This is an alternative to an inpatient program for people who need a high level of recovery support.

Expect individual therapy sessions with your counselor to address any underlying mental health issues that could be pushing you to drugs. Your therapist will inquire more about your situation to develop an individualized plan that meets your specific recovery needs. As part of the day program for partial hospitalization, you will also participate in a group therapy session. Here, you interact with other people with similar problems as yours, and you can share coping strategies. You will also participate in yoga and meditation sessions and learn more about medication management.

Outpatient Treatment Program

Outpatient treatment is a part-time program through which you visit the rehab center at a specified time and attend school, work, and other daily responsibilities for the other part of the day. This is an ideal option for a client with mild addiction issues or someone looking for a long-term treatment program.

During the treatment sessions, expect to learn more about drug abuse and your triggers. You will still undergo individual therapies with your counselor to discuss issues that you aren’t comfortable sharing in a group setting. You will also participate in group counseling and art or music therapy.

For the outpatient program, the professionals encourage family participation. Note that drug use disorder also affects your family members. Conflicts may arise, and trust issues begin to develop. During family therapy sessions, the therapist will help your loved ones better cope with your situation. This way, they can provide better support necessary for recovery.

The Bottom Line

Suboxone withdrawal may be a complex process, but this is only a temporary situation that you can handle with the right support and coping strategies. Always remember that therapy is crucial if you want to maintain long-term sobriety. Work with a professional to help you choose a proper detox method and therapy program based on the extent of your condition.

If you are struggling with any form of substance use disorder, seek professional help from First City Recovery Center. With proper care, support, and dedication, you will surely regain freedom from drug use.

Your Recovery Begins Today

You probably have a lot of questions, which is absolutely normal. Our compassionate staff is available around-the-clock to take your call and address any concerns you might have. Many of us have been right where you are and understand what you’re going through.
Don’t wait – call us today!

Give us a Call

At First City Recovery Center, we are dedicated to your physical well-being, your emotional health, and your overall success on the road to recovery.

We are committed to you. Our team is willing and ready to assist you as you begin and continue your path to freedom from addiction.