Dealing with Suboxone Withdrawal: WARNING this drug may cause dependence

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Dealing with Suboxone Withdrawal: WARNING this drug may cause dependence

Suboxone is a prescription medication FDA-approved to treat opioid addiction. It is combined with the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is known as a partial agonist which relieves the symptoms of a powerful opiate withdrawal. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist which reverses the effect of opioid drugs.

While the drug for opiate withdrawal has shown effective through a variety of studies, Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can make it hard to stop. Suboxone is often a long time treatment for those recovering from addictive opioids like heroin. As it is addictive, staying on it for the necessary time causes a high risk of dependency. There are various Suboxone tapering plans that will last for up to 28 days. This is long enough to cause addiction to Suboxone.

The withdrawal effects are very much like quitting opioids if the “cold turkey” approach is attempted. It may be the less of two evils but should also be acknowledged as a prescription medication that can cause great problems in your life.

As Suboxone somewhat replicates effects of opioid drugs that are much stronger and addictive, it does have a place in recovery. It does minimize withdrawal symptoms and gives you the chance to recover gradually. The problem is that Suboxone can also be very addictive. Here’s what you should know about Suboxone withdrawal.

Suboxone Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Risks of Taking Suboxone

Aside from the potential of dependence on Suboxone, there are other health risks. If people become dependent on it, they may start to abuse it. This can be anything from crushing it or simply taking bigger doses than prescribed. It also can become dangerous if you mix with other drugs like antidepressants, narcotic pain medication, sleeping pills or other sedatives. Drinking while on Suboxone pose major health risks.

Vivitrol vs. Suboxone

A study compared Vivitrol and Suboxone on their anti-addiction capabilities. What they found was that they are both equally effective for treatment. Vivitrol, which contains naltrexone, is an injection that lasts for 28 days. It is non-addictive so the addict will have to make it through detox prior to receiving Vivitrol. Vivitrol is just as effective in preventing relapse once treatment start says a Lancet study. Where Suboxone can cause dependence, Vivitrol has the same success rate with no tapering once treatment subsides.

What Makes Suboxone Effective?

There are two ingredients that make up this prescription medication to help people with their opioid addiction. Suboxone has buprenorphine and naloxone in it. They work together to help people get off much stronger drugs. Buprenorphine mimics effects of opioid drugs that are highly dangerous and addictive like heroin. It is challenging for people to withdraw and manage getting off full agonist opioids. Buprenorphine helps by giving the addict a dose of the effect they miss so withdrawal is less intense.

Naloxone is the opioid antagonist that blocks effects of opioid drugs. It has stopped the effects of opioids during overdoses. Suboxone was designed to wean people off opioids and also minimizes the chance to overdose through self-medication.

Tapering Off Suboxone

Tapering Off Suboxone

Of course with Suboxone, there should be a strategic treatment plan from day 1 to avoid addiction. The whole idea is a progressive tapering method that reduces withdrawal symptom significantly. The dose reduction should be no more than 25% daily. The length of the tapering schedule can vary but the least amount of time is ideal. Some plans will include reducing Suboxone doses every day. Other plans may reduce doses every few days. Dose reduction schedules may become a tapering plan that lasts up to 28 days. Others may have a plan that is just seven.

A study found that there is no major difference on effectiveness when you compare the 7-day and 28 day tapering plans. One difference was that patients were more satisfied with the 28-day treatment.

The Suboxone Effects

As buprenorphine is an opioid, it can produce similar effects to drugs like heroin or methadone. This includes the feeling of euphoria and relaxation. The effects of buprenorphine are much less than the full agonists when taken properly. The feeling one gets from taking Suboxone makes it potentially habit forming.

Suboxone Abuse

Suboxone Abuse

Another issue with Suboxone is the abuse factor. Suboxone can be crushed and then snorted or injected. This can give nearly the same effect as morphine or heroin. Some people will mix buprenorphine and methadone together which causes the effect of enhancing them both. Those who abuse methadone will often seek out Suboxone because of the buprenorphine.

Withdrawing from Suboxone

Withdrawing from Suboxone

The fact that Suboxone withdrawal cold turkey symptoms occur when a person abstains speaks a lot of the dependency risks. Whenever you take Suboxone, you should be in close communication with your doctor throughout the process. When the decision has been made to stop using Suboxone, you’ll want to speak with your doctor. They can help you learn how to deal with Suboxone withdrawal.

Withdrawing from Suboxone can be different in severity and length for everyone. It depends how long the person was taking it and what the dose was. Usually the physical Suboxone withdrawal symptoms will dissipate after one month. There is still a possibility that psychological dependency will exist for longer.

Physical Signs of Suboxone Withdrawal

As Suboxone leaves the body for someone who is dependent on it, there are physical symptoms that will arise. These can include symptoms such as:

  • A feeling of heat or coolness in the body. It may change often with no notice or reason.
  • There’s a possibility of feeling as though bugs are crawling on your body. Goosebumps may also come and go.
  • You will likely feel exhausted as the body starts to detox.
  • Pain and cramps in the muscles all throughout the body.
  • Cravings for Suboxone or opioids that are physical and mental.
  • Night sweats may occur due to the fact that you’d been dehydrated by Suboxone and now it’s being released. Also, it’s a good sign if you’re sweating because the body is removing Suboxone from the system.
  • As Suboxone impacts the brain’s opioid receptors, it can cause nausea which may lead to vomiting.
  • Withdrawing from Suboxone can cause you to lose your appetite.
  • You may experience diarrhea.
  • Insomnia often occurs through Suboxone withdrawal.

Suboxone Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Suboxone floods the brain with dopamine which tends to make you feel happier and at ease. When that’s taken away, it can cause psychological withdrawal symptoms that can include:

  • You may feel irritable and moody.
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts may occur.
  • You can become highly anxious as you deal with living normally again. There is a fear of not having Suboxone and feeling as though that feeling will never end.
  • Withdrawal can bring mental health problems to surface.

Suboxone Withdrawal in Detail

Some may try Suboxone detox at home cold turkey. This isn’t the recommended method and there is plenty of other options. Withdrawal from Suboxone is multi-stage process. Throughout the phases, various symptoms will arise. Drug rehabilitation clinics will give the addict a safe place to detox with constant supervision. Treatment is administered during this challenging phases of Suboxone withdrawal that make it easier to manage. Here is what you can expect in terms of the Suboxone withdrawal timeline:

Day 1

Usually within 6 – 12 hours since the last time Suboxone was taken, withdrawal symptoms such as muscle pain, diarrhea and nausea may occur. You may begin to experience anxiety and moodiness. It is not usually very intense on day 1. The symptoms will however begin to occur.

Day 2

Symptoms from day 1 will escalate and become worse. Some will say that the first few days aren’t that bad while others say the first 72 hours are the hardest. Typical opiate withdrawal symptoms may occur which includes hot/cold flashes, a feeling that something is crawling on your skin, and no appetite. You will likely feel a lot anxiety and irritability during the second day.

Day 3

Withdrawal symptoms will likely be at their worse on day 3. The normal symptoms that happen within the first few days after getting off Suboxone are at their height on days 3 and 4. Your stomach may turn in knots, there will be a sense of something crawling on you all the time and extreme hot/cold flashes. It may be the worst day for moodiness and irritability.

Day 4

As the body continues to eliminate Suboxone, you may find it challenging to sleep. Insomnia is quite common. Psychological withdrawal symptoms may likely start to kick in at this point too. It could include anxiety and irritability. Mild hallucinations may occur once you make it to day 4. This could also be due to lack of sleep for some.

Day 5

While many will begin to feel as they’ve made it past the most challenging part of Suboxone withdrawal, there might be pain in the joints and muscles of varying degrees. You should start to get your appetite back. Emotions are likely to run high and if you haven’t already broken down and cried by day 5, you might do it today. At the same time, you may also be starting to feel like yourself again. It may feel like a turning point.

Day 6

Depression may feel like the hardest during day 6. It may have begun on day 4 or 5 and you’ll wonder if it’s there to stay. The depression does last up to 4 days historically. Insomnia can begin to create havoc in one’s life if you haven’t been able to sleep. Day 6 will likely bring moments of good as well as bad.

Day 7

Pain may increase such as back pain or just a deep muscular pain that can be from slight to debilitating. This may be part of the reason it’s challenging to sleep, although insomnia is also likely during this time. You may be able to start sleeping again and symptoms may feel much less intense. Fatigue is common during this time but it’s manageable.

Day 8

Day 8 will have you feeling better than the last. There may be some pain and of course the psychological withdrawal symptoms are far from over. It’s just going to be much easier because of the reduction of intensity with any symptom you experienced over the week.

Once you get into the second week of Suboxone withdrawal, you may be feeling physically better but you may start to feel depressed. This is when talk therapy can be a valuable tool.

Managing Detox for Suboxone

Suboxone detox at home cold turkey is not recommended because ultimately, it’s just not that successful. The best option is an inpatient addiction center but there is a more convenient option of outpatient detox and rehabilitation also. There are physical and physiological withdrawal symptoms you will have to cope with. This is why there is a high relapse rate.

Tools for Managing Opioid Addiction Without Medication

As Suboxone really is just meant to get a person off stronger opioids like heroin, it is the last drug to get past in the journey to recovery. Suboxone tapering should be part of the process when someone is recovering from opioid addiction. It should be done slowly and intentionally through guidance of your doctor or addiction specialist.

When Suboxone becomes the object of your addiction, it doesn’t serve you as an opioid recovery method. This means that you’ll now have to detox from Suboxone and potentially manage your original addiction. Going on further medication may not be the solution for you. You will likely have to find holistic means to getting past your addiction.

Firstly, you’ll want to work with addiction professionals to help you form a plan. Here are some of the means available to help you detox from Suboxone:

  • Peer support.
  • Different styles of therapy that help to manage the physical withdrawal symptoms.
  • Relapse prevention education.

Suboxone Non-Medical Withdrawal Remedies

Suboxone Non-Medical Withdrawal Remedies

There are many ways that you can withdraw from Suboxone. Some of the strategies can be done at home while others are available at addiction treatment facilities. Addiction therapists are essential in helping you understand emotions that you might be feeling during Suboxone withdrawal. Some healthy alternatives include:

Physical Activity – Exercise is going to help you stay relaxed and at ease while coping with Suboxone addiction. Endless studies have found that exercise is essential in addiction recovery. This is thanks to the natural boost of endorphins that occur. This is especially important when it comes to withdrawal from drugs. It helps redevelop the brain from the damage it’s gone through and straightens out the chemical imbalance.

A Healthy Diet – Proper nutrition also has a major effect on addiction recovery. As your body copes with the lack of buprenorphine, it will feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Food can actually soothe this feeling. The best kind of food to eat are fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Even if you’re feeling hungry (which is common when you’re going through opioid withdrawal), eat regularly.

Drink Plenty of Water – When you’re going through Suboxone withdrawal, you will feel dehydrated for a variety of reasons. Some of the withdrawal symptoms is vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating. You can actually become dangerously intoxicated so it’s important to drink a lot of water. You’ll feel much better for it as it flushes toxins out of your body faster. Hot herbal tea can be relaxing but also just drink a lot of water at room temperature.

Socializing – This may seem like a strange suggestion for addiction recovery but being social can be extremely helpful. Perhaps the reason 12-Step programs are so helpful is because they allow you to feel deeply supported. This is really important when you’re coping with Suboxone withdrawal. Reach out to people in your life.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Sadly, what can be a means to get over addiction can also cause addiction. Suboxone can be a highly useful tool when someone is detoxing from a highly dangerous, illicit opioid. The problem arises when it’s abused. The tapering schedule for Suboxone can be long enough to cause dependency. Trading one drug for another is not the ideal way of recovering from addiction. There is a danger to using Suboxone for opioid addiction.

For those using Suboxone as part of their recovery journey, there should also be holistic therapy. Opioid addiction needs to include a variety of methods to truly get over it. You have to understand your reasons on why you started using. You need to be educated on what addiction is and you need to make major changes in your life to ensure you don’t relapse. Suboxone has its place in opioid addiction recovery but there is also the danger of dependency.

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Dealing with Suboxone Withdraawal

By |2019-10-02T22:26:51+00:00March 15th, 2018|

About the Author:

Northpoint Recovery
Northpoint Recovery is the premier drug and alcohol rehab, detox, and treatment facility in the Northwestern United States.

26 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Anonymous February 11, 2019 at 12:19 am

    How do you deal with working and withdrawal? I have to go to work and I cannot call off work. Wondering if anyone has went through Cold Turkey and working and how hard was it?

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery February 18, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Each person is different and therefore may experience different symptoms. Stopping any medication or drug cold turkey could make your withdrawal symptoms worse than tapering. You may want to look into outpatient facilities in your area or give us a call to see what options you have for working and getting the help you need! We are here 24/7 at 844-598-4765 or online https://www.northpointrecovery.com/contact-us.php

    • Avatar
      Michelle Wetzel March 2, 2019 at 9:18 pm

      Hello I’m going through withdrawal. I have been reading about withdrawal. Wing yourself off. Read cause people have been winging there self off but changing mg takes about a week. Thanks

    • Avatar
      Philip March 14, 2019 at 8:35 am

      It is not an easy task, but you can do it if you’re strong willed to be sober again. I’m on day 8 of detox. I didn’t have the luxury of taking off of work. I just kinda played everything off as I think I’m getting sick kinda thing around coworkers. They’d keep their distance, but it is still challenging, but it is achievable. Stomach issues are the worst problem I have and the chills. I haven’t really taken anything for the symptoms, but I’ve heard antacids and pepto can help. I’m trying to just let everything run its coarse naturally. If you can take PTO for at least 5-7 days it would be ideal. But you can get through it as long as your saying to yourself this is only temporary it’ll pass.

  2. Avatar
    Gizem Saario March 19, 2019 at 3:18 am

    Since I’ve been talking suboxone so little my withdrawal hasn’t been super bad but first 2 days were kind of hell and the 3rd day was mostly tiredness and little burning feeling on my body along with discomfort. But I can eat with no problem. Im just entering day 4 and hoping it gets better. I can’t take anything else to help me because I found out I’m pregnant. But I must say this is really hard. I’m thinking about taking it all the time but of course I don’t. I just want to get over the physical part.. 🙁

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery March 21, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experiences and congratulations on your pregnancy! We wish you and your baby all the best as you continue your sober journey!

    • Avatar
      Trina April 9, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Gizem how have you found the withdrawals with being pregnant? I was taking 4 different meds when I found out I was already 4 months pregnant, this included tramadol and co-codamol for Cronin pain, I stopped them straight away and didn’t find them to bad but was also on suboxone which the do tor’s actually left me on while I delt with other meds’ first, now on day 3 off stopping the suboxone my sleep is terrible and aches are priory bad to have you found anything that did help? As you said can’t take anything else due to being pregnant,

      Hope your pregnancy is going well for you and your feeling a little better now with the withdrawal x

  3. Avatar
    Anthony March 29, 2019 at 6:31 am

    I’m on day 6 withdrawing from suboxone. I’ve been on suboxone for about 2years. I did it cold turkey. The first couple of days are the worse. I can finally see the light in the tunnel

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery April 2, 2019 at 4:08 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing and offering hope to those who are looking to get off Suboxone. We wish you continued success on your recovery journey!

    • Avatar
      Bob April 3, 2019 at 12:39 am

      Glad you are seeing the light!! What mg did you stop at?

  4. Avatar
    Kayla May 8, 2019 at 4:18 am

    I’m on day 6. As the other person commented I can finally see the light. Most the stomach problems and horrible body and muscle aches are gone along with all those hot flashes and chills. Just milder aches in muscles now but more bearable. It was worse than flu but anyone who isnt on day 5 or 6 yet dont give up. U will get past the worst part. I was about to lose my mind from the insomnia and body aches. I broke down and cried on day 5 just as explained. Can finally work again but have to face the psychological part now. Might need to see Dr about depression/anxiety meds which I always had those issues prior to use anyways. First week is the hardest, dont give up. You’ll feel so good about yourself once u hit day 5. Much determination & strength needed.

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery May 15, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and offering hope to those searching! We wish you all the best as you continue your recovery journey!

  5. Avatar
    Dandy May 10, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Today is my first day off suboxone. I was only taking 1 mg a day and just stopped it. Today hasn’t been too bad, I’m just wondering will the symptoms get stronger? Or if it may not be too nad since it was a small dosage?

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery May 15, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      Every person is different and therefore may experience different withdrawal symptoms. We wish you all the best on your recovery journey!

  6. Avatar
    Suboxone Victim May 13, 2019 at 11:25 am

    I’m starting on my 3rd day and the anxiety in my stomach is un-believable. I have been doing suboxone for about 10 years. I started when I was 15 just to get high and before I knew I was hooked. I haven’t been doing as much before I quit I thought that would make it better yeah right. Nothing makes it better, suboxone is the devil in pill form. I’ve done just about every drug their is and nothing ever got a hold of me like suboxone. They don’t help no one do anything except trade one habit for another. Doctors stick ppl on 3 a day for a year the 2 ans half another year the doctors are the ones to blame they make a lot of money of it so no wonder they keep ppl on it for years. Anyways I got on here to see if their was anything to help the anxiety but like i already knew nothing helps. I can’t wait to get off these things and never look back.

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery May 15, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you for sharing your personal experiences! We wish you all the best on your recovery journey!

  7. Avatar
    Nick May 20, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    I’ve been on suboxone for 8 months. Not for opiod addiction but pain management. I shattered my ankle and broke my back 15 months ago. Since opiods were hard to get and no other pain management was working my doctors agreed to try suboxone. Although I was nausea for the whole duration it definately helped with pain. Now I have decided to quit and I am on day 7. The worst day was day 3 with extremely negative thoughts and self worth. Crawling out of skin sensation. Day 4 and 5 I have muscle weakness and a crawling sensation getting worse that makes it very difficult to sleep. Back, groin, and joints hurt. Day 6 I felt better mentally but dealing with sore lower back and like I’m a huge dead weight and lathargic. Day 7 I mentally feel good but I have the crawling out of my skin sensation day and night but i mentally feel great now. I have never experienced a withdrawl and let me tell you it is difficult. I call my nurse when need be and they are very helpful. I got prescribed clonodine at 0.1 mg but it does nothing

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery June 3, 2019 at 4:09 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, we wish you all the best on your journey!

  8. Avatar
    Crystal May 24, 2019 at 11:36 am

    I’ve been on 8mgs for about a year. Before that 6 msg for 2 years. I’ve reduced my dose back down to 6mgs and this week was tuff. 4th day the hardest for me. This morning is day 5 feeling like it’s turning the corner and I’m really proud of myself since the cravings were so high. The worse part is hitting myself with another drop at day 8. Kind of feels like signing my self up for a extended period of suffering. However I am a professional and have to work in a environment where I can’t isolate and have to work with people. My suggestion is drop by 25% every 7 days. Still sucks but it’s manageable. Remind yourself of how great it will to be free of this. BTW it takes 7-10 for brain receptors to change so dropping any sooner is pointless might as well go cold turkey otherwise.

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery June 3, 2019 at 4:04 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experiences! We wish you all the best as you continue your journey!

    • Avatar
      Kay June 13, 2019 at 9:32 pm

      I am on day 7 of suboxone withdrawal and it’s one of the worst days. I’ve been taking valerian root herbal tablets 800mg and melatonin extra strength the past two nights to help me sleep as I did not sleep a wink the first 5 days! My body was falling apart! The first night I took it I got about 3 hours of sleep but quite interupted. Last night I slept pretty well over all. Still quite interupted but longer intervals of sleep. I’d say I got about 5 hours of sleep. Lots of weird dreams. Today my body aches the worst it has. I feel like it’s all restarting! I feel like I’m getting sick. Feels like someone is standing on my shoulders. I have no support system as no one knows I’ve ever used suboxone. I am just praying to God tomorrow (day 8) is significantly better! I dont know if I can handle another day like this.

  9. Avatar
    Katie May 28, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    I am on day 2 of recovery. I have been doing suboxone for almost a year now. I started taking a strip throughout the day and ended up getting my self to a point where I barely took any at all. I wanted to not have to depend on this pill/strip, so I told myself to STOP. I, unfortunately, have to work while having withdrawals. The hardest part for me are the muscle aches. I dont mind my stomach being upset, I can control the depression, but my muscles aching are the worst part of the withdrawal to me. Feeling tired as well, is something I am not used to. Having a strong positive mind about everything, knowing this will not last forever, is was gets me through. On to day 3. Good luck everyone.

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery June 3, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      Great job on making the choice for yourself to stop. We hope you are doing okay as you continue your sober journey!

  10. Avatar
    David nichols May 29, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    So I’m on day 8 and the pains and the sleep are my main issues and can’t eat still I’ve been doing it for 2 years and this is the worst withdrawal I have every experienced and does anyone know when people get there energy back

  11. Avatar
    Jake August 8, 2019 at 12:57 am

    I’ve been on and off of heroin for the last 10 years. In and out of rehabs a couple times. This last time I relapsed I got off H with subs, give or take a little over 18 months. I quit subs a few months ago with kratom… never again will I use that shit. Worse decision I’ve ever made. I am now on day 4 of no subs. I was taking between 4 mg and 8mg a day but usually 6. I decided to quit cold Turkey after being on them for a couple of months. Day 2 3 and most of 4 have been pretty rough. No sleep, loss of appetite and a lot of muscle pains. The things that are keeping me going are my kids and the knowledge that this will not last forever.

    • Northpoint Recovery
      Northpoint Recovery August 12, 2019 at 10:11 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, we wish you all the best!

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