Suboxone – How to Cope with its Withdrawal? Tips and Treatments

Last Updated: June 10, 2020

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Suboxone is a prescription-only drug that reduces or prevents withdrawal symptoms that occur with opioid addiction. People use opioids to relieve the acute or chronic pain of severe nature. They include morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. They act on specific sites, called opioid receptors in the brain and peripheral nerves. By changing the level of mood-altering neurotransmitters, they change the brain’s response to pain. As a result, the person will pain-free and relaxed. The major drawback of this class of pain medications is they are habit-forming. The brain will become addicted to the euphoric feelings caused by the opioids. As a result, one will start to seek more of it to quench the cravings. That’s when a scary long-term addiction kicks off.
The woes increase when the user deprives the body of the “opioid kick” as they have discontinued the opioids. Withdrawal symptoms are a host of physical and mental problems that arise after one stops taking opioids. Suboxone contains Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Doctors prescribe them to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms or prevent their occurrence.
Buprenorphine is an opioid with milder effects. Meanwhile Naloxone prevents narcotics from binding to their receptors. Why did a doctor prescribe a weaker opioid in place of the stronger ones? Doing so will make the cravings and other symptoms more manageable. On the other hand, Naloxone works to lessen the effects of opioids. It does this by preventing them from binding to opioid receptors. In essence, the combination works in a dual manner to reduce cravings and manage other withdrawal symptoms.
The individual should note that Suboxone itself has some degree of abuse potential. As a result, this makes things a bit more complex. When someone takes Suboxone for a long time, the risk for addiction increases greatly. For many, it may seem like an endless journey. First, they have to fight against opioid addiction. Then, they have to fight against Suboxone withdrawal.
However, there are some tips and treatment strategies. They can make getting out of the Suboxone withdrawal more comfortable.

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

Some common withdrawal symptoms of Suboxone include:

  • Digestive disorders like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Headaches and muscle ache
  • Loss of sleep
  • Increased irritation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Loss of concentration

Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline

Suboxone WithdrawalWell, no one has a definitive answer for this. Of course, this depends on the doses one has taken and duration of the therapy. Suboxone withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to a month or even more in some cases. Moreover, the length of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms also depends on the personal physiology and genetic factors.
The symptoms go through a series of phases. Notably, the worst symptoms during the first three days as the drug starts leaving a bloodstream. In the next week, one will experience a combination of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. They include sleep problems, depressive thoughts, and body pains. As the time moves forward, the symptoms become less prominent. Yet, the cravings can last for up to a month.

Easing Suboxone Withdrawal Phase

The withdrawal phase is a very difficult time to cope. Cravings will reach their pinnacle. Then the individuals will have the pain of fighting the weird withdrawal symptoms. Finally, it leaves the body with a heap of problems. This is the time when thevings can topple the achievements so far. But with little changes in thoughts and lifestyle, one can emerge a winner.
Consider following tips and strategies to become cleaner again:

  • Eat Well: A balanced diet containing all essential nutrients will make sure that the person maintains overall health. No one wants to be ill while craving for the drugs. A healthy body is more likely to resist those cravings than a diseased one.
  • Exercise: Exercises of any type will help ease the withdrawal symptoms while making an individual healthier. Also, certain exercises release mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain. As a result, it may curb thvings for the drug.
  • Sleep Well: A quality sleep is a must when a person is bidding a final farewell to the addiction. When they get sleep, the brain gets enough rest. So, one wakes up ready to endure another day of withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, mental problems like anxiety and depression also ease with quality sleep.
  • Do not rush: Remember that rushing to freedom from addiction will only make things more difficult. Getting back to sobriety is a long term process. So, be patient enough to achieve the treatment goal.
  • Be informed: Being aware of the condition in advance will allow the individual more time to get prepared. This way, one can cope with the problems better. Make sure to listen to the doctor carefully and follow the instructions.
  • Stay close to friends and family: An emotional support team that comprises of close friends and family members. In fact, it’s one of the most important parts of the total Suboxone treatment plan.
  • Stay in regular touch with adoctor: This is more important especially during the first few days of the withdrawal phase. It will be when the symptoms are at their worst. Still, scheduling routine doctor visit is necessary. this way they can track the progress and report any problems.

Suboxone detox is a difficult but an achievable goal. The outcome of a Suboxone treatment plan depends upon several factors. They include the will for recovery, length of the abuse, and efforts from a rehab team.
The road to recovery is bumpy. Thus, rehabilitation treatment is the best option to get back to the normal life. Suboxone treatment centers are experts in rehabilitating this specific subgroup of patients. They have a team of highly qualified and skilled healthcare professionals and counselors. Moreover, they will provide all sorts of medical treatments, counseling, and follow-up cares.

Page Sources

  1. Blum K., Oscar-Berman M., Femino J., et al. Withdrawal from Buprenorphine/Naloxone and Maintenance with a Natural Dopaminergic Agonist: A Cautionary Note. Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy. 2013; 4(2): 10.4172/2155-6105.1000146. doi:10.4172/2155-6105.1000146.
  2. Westermeyer J., McCance-Katz E. F. Course and treatment of buprenorphine/naloxone withdrawal: an analysis of case reports. The American Journal on Addictions. 2012; 21(5): 401–403. doi:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2012.00259.x.

Published on: March 15th, 2017

Updated on: June 10th, 2020

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.


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