Suboxone is prescribed to help people safely withdraw from opiates as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). However, Suboxone can still be addictive as it also contains an opioid—a substance called buprenorphine. When misused, this helpful medication can trigger physical dependence instead of acting as an addiction treatment. For people with an addiction to Suboxone, recovery follows a similar path as many other drugs but requires a unique detox process.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone contains the medications buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it can still give users the same “high” as other opioid drugs to a lesser extent. In medical detox settings, doctors administer Suboxone to relieve intense and painful opioid withdrawal symptoms. It is also used to prevent relapses in clients trying to maintain their sobriety.
Naloxone, the second component of Suboxone, is an anti-opioid. This means that it prevents opioids from affecting the brain. Naloxone is commonly used to reverse the effects of opioid abuse and overdoses. Since naloxone prevents buprenorphine from feeling like a regular opioid drug, the makers of Suboxone mix them together to limit its abuse potential.
How Does Someone Become Addicted to Suboxone?
Even with precautions in place, addiction is quite common. Suboxone addiction is most common among people who are not chemically opioid-dependent. Like any other drug, Suboxone can be bought or traded, often from those with a prescription. Suboxone can still produce a high when taken in large doses.
In cases of addiction, Suboxone may be ground up and snorted for maximum effects. Sometimes it’s used in combination with alcohol or benzodiazepines. In this case, the effects of both substances will be enhanced, and overdose is much more likely.
When abused, quitting Suboxone can lead to physical and mental health-related withdrawal symptoms. 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. In a person not used to these drugs, Suboxone withdrawal symptoms may be stronger.
There are many symptoms which can occur with Suboxone withdrawal, and all will not appear at once. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Dilated pupils
- Watery eyes and runny nose
- Mental agitation and difficulty concentrating
- Anxiousness or restlessness
- Restless sleep
- Joint or muscle pain and cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Low-grade fever
- Nausea and vomiting
What Is Suboxone Detox Like?
It can take anywhere from a week to a month to fully detox from Suboxone. The first phase of medical detox is withdrawal, which begins about 12 hours from the last use. Symptoms peak somewhere between three to five days. The second phase, post-acute withdrawal, can last up to two years. Withdrawal has physical symptoms, whereas the second phase has milder and more emotional symptoms. Cravings are a pervasive part of withdrawal and can easily lead to relapse.
The safest way to avoid withdrawal symptoms is to taper off Suboxone over a period of time. It can take six to twelve months to fully do so. Suboxone has a long half-life, which means it stays active in the body. It usually takes between 24 and 60 hours for half of a single dose to leave the body.
Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale is a tool used by doctors to gauge a client’s withdrawal progression. Doctors can then determine long-term addiction treatment options. For example, someone presenting a stronger dependency may have long-lasting cravings and require special care.
Treatment for Suboxone Abuse
Due to the high risk of relapse, substance abuse treatment for Suboxone should immediately follow detox. Many people believe that detox is the end of recovery, but this isn’t the case. It is important to find what led you to abuse Suboxone in the first place and make sure it doesn’t drive you to seek it out again.
If you’re being treated at an independent detox center, your medical team can refer you to an addiction treatment center. If you’re detoxing at a facility such as Promises Treatment Center, you can transition into a program that meets your needs. A treatment team will work with you to assess your background and match you with an appropriate level of care.
During treatment, whether that is an inpatient rehab program or outpatient therapy, you’ll explore why you first began to abuse Suboxone and what sustained that use. You may take part in individual, family or group therapy. If you have an underlying mental health issue, doctors may recommend dual diagnosis treatment. Peer support circles, like 12-step groups, are also helpful for some people in recovery. Using these resources, you’ll learn the skills to control your cravings.
Promises Treatment Center offers a full range of resources and treatment programs to help you stay sober from Suboxone. Recovering from substance abuse – especially a long-lasting drug like Suboxone – is far from easy. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact us today for a free consultation and start imagining a life free of addiction.