How to Taper off Suboxone
Opioid addiction is notoriously difficult to treat. This is due to the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. However, certain medications are available that blunt the effects of withdrawing from opioids. One of these medications is suboxone. This article explains how to successfully taper off Suboxone and the timeline for the same.
Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Both substances have different effects on opioid receptors in the brain. Buprenorphine is a “partial opioid agonist,” meaning, like drugs of abuse, it partially activates opioid receptors in the brain. However, its effect is very limited, so it is difficult for addicts to use buprenorphine to get high.
Nonetheless, injecting buprenorphine alone can result in a high, which is why naloxone is added. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the effects of opioids. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, if suboxone is injected, the naloxone aspect will cause an addict to enter withdrawal immediately rather than experiencing any possible high from the buprenorphine. This makes suboxone a relatively safe substance.
Ceiling Effect of Buprenorphine
How to Taper off Suboxone?
Even though Suboxone is an effective medication for addiction treatment, it can create physical and psychological dependence. Addiction to Suboxone can cause serious problems if not taken seriously. Withdrawing from suboxone requires a methodical plan and treatment program.
It is best not to quit it cold turkey, or extreme withdrawal symptoms can occur. Like many drug and alcohol addictions, suboxone addiction is best treated with a tapering program to limit the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms.
Like substance abuse treatment for other drug addictions, quitting suboxone can be supported by enrolling in a detox program or other treatment center. That way, addicts can follow a tapering schedule under the guidance of a treatment professional and medical supervision.
It is also important for withdrawing addicts to have access to counseling and the social support system that residential treatment programs provide. This is because the most dangerous side effect of withdrawing from suboxone is the high possibility of relapse on more serious opioids.
Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline
It is important to get professional help when tapering off Suboxone. A doctor or treatment professional can help create a timeline for the taper, so the addict knows how much to take and when to reduce the dose. Generally, the taper should start with 10-20 percent reductions in dosage every four to seven days; however, this is completely dependent on individual tolerance levels.
Suboxone is generally withdrawn over the course of 7 to 28 days. Studies on the efficacy of short-term vs. long-term tapering schedules conflict. However, whether an addict follows a 7-day or a 28-day taper, the withdrawal will generally progress along similar lines.
After Approximately 3 Days
Between Days 3 and 5
After 1 Week
1 Week to 1 Month
After 1 Month
After Tapering off of Suboxone
Over the long term, there is always the potential for another relapse with an opioid drug. While taking suboxone can enable an addict to withdraw more gently and greatly increases the chances of recovery, it is important for addicts to remain involved in a recovery program. This can mean being active in a 12-step program such as Narcotics Anonymous or living in a sober home.
That way, recovery professionals can monitor you and answer your questions as you work on yourself and build a new sober life from the ground up. Ultimately, withdrawing from suboxone takes a very short period of time, but recovering from opioid addiction and dealing with the psychological effects of opioid withdrawal is a lifelong process.
What is Opioid Use Disorder?
Symptoms of opioid use disorder include tolerance to the substance, withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug, increased amounts taken over time, and an inability to control the use of opioids. People suffering from opioid use disorder often struggle to meet their obligations at work or school, have problems with relationships, engage in risky behaviors, and experience physical health problems due to drug use. It is important to note that opioid use disorder is treatable and can be managed through medication.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suboxone addiction, it’s important to know that there are resources available to help. One option to consider is sober living in Los Angeles, CA. Sober living provides a structured and supportive environment that promotes healing and long-term recovery. In a sober living house, individuals can receive support and guidance from trained professionals and develop the skills and tools they need to maintain sobriety. For those in the Los Angeles area, sober living in Los Angeles, CA can be an effective way to rebuild their lives and achieve a brighter future. Remember, recovery is a journey, and seeking help is the first step towards a better life. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, consider the support and resources available through sober living in Los Angeles, CA.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is important to have access to medical help and work with a doctor familiar with buprenorphine and opioid addiction in general. With the right support, it is possible for addicts to wean off buprenorphine and start the process of recovery successfully.
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- Tripathi BM, Hemaraj P, Dhar NK. Buprenorphine withdrawal syndrome. Indian J Psychiatry. 1995 Jan;37(1):23-5. PMID: 21743710; PMCID: PMC2970944.
- Dydyk AM, Jain NK, Gupta M. Opioid Use Disorder. [Updated 2022 Jun 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553166/