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Suboxone Detox

Suboxone is prescribed to help people withdrawal from heroin, morphine or oxycodone. But this medication also contains an opioid (a substance called buprenorphine). When misused, it can trigger addiction instead of acting as an addiction treatment. Detoxification (detox) is a common first step toward recovery. Suboxone detox follows the same pattern as detoxification from other medications. Only qualified addiction specialists can safely guide this process.

Suboxone Basics

Suboxone contains buprenorphine in combination with a second medication called naloxone. While buprenorphine is an opioid, naloxone is an anti-opioid. This means that it prevents opioid substances from producing effects inside the brain. The makers of Suboxone mix naloxone with buprenorphine to limit buprenorphine’s efficacy. When taken together, naloxone will stop buprenorphine from reaching the brain. This makes Suboxone less attractive as a target of abuse. In reality, some people abuse Suboxone and develop significant health problems.

Suboxone Withdrawal

When you quit taking Suboxone, it can lead to a withdrawal experience. This experience is similar to withdrawal from other types of opioids. For a person used to opioids, the symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal may be mild. But in a person not used to these drugs, Suboxone withdrawal may produce stronger symptoms.

Certain symptoms appear in early stages of withdrawal and others appear later.. The list of possible early symptoms includes:

  • Excessive perspiration
  • Unusual tear and mucus production (i.e., watery eyes and runny nose)
  • Mental agitation
  • Anxiousness or restlessness
  • An inability to sleep soundly
  • Joint or muscle pain

The list of symptoms that can appear later includes:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Loose bowels
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Goose bumps
  • Pupil dilation

During the withdrawal process, Suboxone detox can lead to cravings for opioids. The ‘Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale’ helps doctors measure the strength of withdrawal. This is important when developing an appropriate treatment plan. This questionnaire can reveal the presence and intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Treating Withdrawal

Suboxone treatment is common for people withdrawing from other opioid drugs and medications. Use of the medication may be unsuitable for people with Suboxone dependency problems. The treating doctor will take all factors into account and devise a plan that best suits the patient. One potential option for this plan is a clonidine. This medication eases discomfort of opioid withdrawal. It addresses physical and psychological symptoms such as. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Agitation
  • Anxiousness
  • Unusual sweatiness

Naltrexone may also be used to help prevent a relapse back into opioid abuse.

How Long Does Detox Last?

Like other forms of detox, Suboxone detox is somewhat unpredictable. Depending on factors present, patients progress through this process differently. Some factors may include the significance of withdrawal symptoms and the length and intensity of use. People who have abused opioids for a long time may have a detoxification process.

What Happens Next?

After detox, a treatment program can help people affected by opioid abuse or addiction. Medication use may continue in this program. The main phase of treatment is usually counseling or therapy. These processes help you or your loved one understand why substance abuse begins in the first place. The therapist will help you recognize behaviors that support substance abuse. They will help you learn new behaviors that support a substance-free lifestyle. Participation in a mutual self-help program may add to the benefits of active treatment.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Guide – Suboxone

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Buprenorphine

U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale

Posted on September 22, 2016 and modified on April 27, 2019

Krisi Herron

Medically Reviewed by

Krisi Herron, LCDC

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