How Does a Suboxone Taper Work?

Addiction Help

How Does a Suboxone Taper Work?

Disclaimer: this guide should be used purely for informational purposes. It IS NOT a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional. To ensure your Suboxone taper withdrawal symptoms are as manageable (and safe) as possible, consult a licensed physician before following this or any other Suboxone taper method.

Suboxone has emerged as an incredibly effective treatment for opioid addiction that some claim is revolutionizing addiction treatment.

But there’s a downside: Suboxone carries with it a risk of developing dependency. As such, long-time Suboxone users may be unable to withstand the associated withdrawal symptoms and could end up hooked for life.

Given this risk of dependency, many Suboxone users want to know a few things in particular: how to get off Suboxone fast, how to taper off Suboxone without withdrawal symptoms, and which Suboxone taper protocol is the best.

This short guide on how to ensure your Suboxone taper success will show you why tapering off of Suboxone is important as well as two effective ways of accomplishing it.

what is suboxone

A Quick Refresher Course on Suboxone

As most of you may know, Suboxone is a relatively new drug that’s made incredible strides in changing the way rehabilitation specialists are treating opioid addiction.

Its unique combination of two distinctive chemical compounds, buprenorphine and naloxone, give it the ability to virtually eliminate opioid withdrawal symptoms while still minimizing the risk of abuse.

Suboxone Taper

Let’s take a quick but in-depth look at how this powerful drug works.

First, we have buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist and the main ingredient in Suboxone.

This unique compound has the uncanny ability to interact with the brain’s opioid receptors (the same ones stimulated by opiates like heroin and OxyContin) just enough to stave off withdrawal, but not so much as to produce an actual opioid high.

suboxone withdrawal

This rare characteristic can come in especially handy for, say, anyone trying to avoid the unbearable opiate withdrawal symptoms.

By adding the second main component, naloxone, to the mix, opioid addicts aren’t able to abuse Suboxone intravenously in an effort to achieve an opioid high.

suboxone goal

You see, naloxone is like buprenorphine in that it finds the same opioid receptors particularly well. Once it does though, it blocks them off entirely, making it impossible for opioids to stimulate them. If you were to inject it along with the buprenorphine, you’d suffer immediate opioid withdrawal symptoms. Not a bad deterrent at all.

That’s also why it’s a trusted tool for reversing opioid overdoses – it basically knocks out all the opioids causing the OD, letting the brain shrug of the opiate daze and get back to the essential functions like respiration.

pros and cons of suboxone

The Problem with Suboxone: It Can Cause Dependency

While Suboxone has long been championed as a wonder drug poised to completely revolutionize the addiction industry and stave off the effects of the ever-growing opioid epidemic, there’s just one problem: Suboxone is addictive.

That’s right – the addiction-treating drug can in fact cause users to build up a tolerance and form patterns of behavior around its abuse. And while it might sound surprising at first, when you consider the fact that Suboxone is actually an opiate itself, it begins to sound a bit more reasonable.

After all, a drug’s still a drug.

tapering suboxone

There Is Still Hope!

Those suffering from Suboxone addiction have probably heard the term “Suboxone taper” before.

It describes slowly weaning yourself from physical dependency on the drug through a carefully constructed Suboxone taper schedule. And to make things easier, we’re giving you a rough guide to making your own.

We’ve separated the schedules into two categories: a quick Suboxone taper (or the 21 Day Suboxone Taper) and a prolonged Suboxone taper. Before simply jumping to the quick Suboxone taper for obvious reasons, though, it’s important to realize that the process of weaning is, by definition, meant to be slow.

quick vs prolonged suboxone taper

If you have the time then, we recommend taking the longer route to increase the odds of your Suboxone taper success and avoid the risk of relapse. What’s more, the longer plan is the best way to go if you’re concerned with how to taper off Suboxone without withdrawal symptoms (or at least minimum symptoms).

So, let’s get down to it.

quick suboxone taper

The 21 Day Suboxone Taper

For those of you trying to find out how to get off Suboxone fast and that care more about speed than viability, this is the Suboxone taper protocol for you.

Here are the basics.

First, you’ll want to lower your dosage every four days and end the taper under or near 0.5 mg a day. This is considered to be a safe level for quitting Suboxone entirely.

Depending on how much you’re currently using, then, all it takes is a little bit of math (which we’ve taken the liberty of doing for you below) to figure out how much to decrease your intake by.

suboxone taper math

5√(0.5/S)=(X*100)

That’s your equation for figuring out how much to cut down your Suboxone intake according to the quicker Suboxone taper method. S stands for your typical daily Suboxone intake in mg. X stands for the percentage to decrease your intake by every four days in order to end up below at or below 0.5mg in 21 days.

It may look complicated but if you’ve got a scientific calculator handy, you shouldn’t have any problems figuring out the amount you need to drop.

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longer suboxone taper

The Tried and True (But Longer) Method

For those of you that have the time to invest in a Suboxone taper plan with better legs to stand on, then the more gradual approach is the way to go. Not only does it ensure you’ll be putting yourself at less of a risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s also incredibly easy to calculate. No equations this time!

All it takes is dropping your milligram intake by 25% every ten days. Simple as that.

If you’re starting with 32mg a day, it might take a while to get down to a comfortable quitting level but soon you’ll be watching your dependency on Suboxone taper off bit by bit. Plus, it’s safer and more likely to lead to a sober future.

Starting Your Suboxone Taper Off Right

That’s all there is to it!

You’ve now got everything you need to create your very own individualized Suboxone taper schedule. As long as you follow the plan in place, your Suboxone taper withdrawal symptoms are sure to be much more manageable.

One quick note: be sure to keep yourself motivated to stick to your Suboxone taper plan. Buy a calendar and designate it your official “Suboxone Taper Chart” and hang it somewhere you’ll never miss. Tell your friends and family so someone’s rooting for you.

Weaning yourself off of this drug takes a mix of willpower, dedication, support, and faith in your planning. But you can do it!

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Suboxone Taper

Sources

Catlin, George (2016, Aug.). How to Detox From Suboxone at Home. Retrieved from https://withdrawal-ease.com/how-to-detox-from-suboxone-at-home/

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (2004). Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64245/

HelpMeGetOffDrugs.com (n.d). Tapering Off Buprenorphine: A Comprehensive Guide to Tapering Off Buprenorphine. Retrieved from http://www.helpmegetoffdrugs.com/taper

Ling, W., Hillhouse, M., Domier, C., Doraimani, G., Hunter, J., Thomas, C., … (2011, Aug.). Buprenorphine Tapering Schedule and Illicit Opioid Use. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150159/

MacGillis, Alec (2015, Feb.). The Wonder Drug. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/02/suboxone_could_help_heroin_addicts.html

MedlinePlus (2016, April). Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016, May). Buprenorphine. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine

By |2019-08-23T21:21:37+00:00August 5th, 2017|

About the Author:

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

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