Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline: How To Safely Detox From Suboxone
Like many drugs that have therapeutic use in addiction care, it’s also a drug that can be misused and become a source of addiction when it isn’t handled properly.
Suboxone might not be as dangerous as other addictive drugs in some cases, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Therefore, itf’s important to understand what Suboxone is used for, how it works, the side effects of the drug, and more.
We’ll also talk about the withdrawal timeline, what you can expect from withdrawal if you’re ready to stop taking Suboxone, and when and why you might want to consider professional assistance in overcoming a suboxone addiction.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
What Is Suboxone Used For?: Suboxone Side-Effects & Withdrawal Symptoms
Suboxone is a combination of two drugs that are commonly used to help deal with opioid addiction and is meant to give you some of the best of both drugs’ effects. The drugs used to create Suboxone are Buprenorphine and naloxone.
Buprenorphine is an opiate partial agonist and is usually used as an opioid treatment for chronic pain. However, the drug is also used for people who are in treatment for opioid addiction, including heroin addiction, where it can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms without as much risk of encouraging a continued addiction.
In use as addiction treatment, Buprenorphine is usually used with the other component of Suboxone, Naloxone.
Naloxone is a drug that blocks the effects of opioid drugs and medications. It’s used as a rescue medication in case of accidental overdose, both from street use of drugs and in medical situations. It’s also used to counteract opiate use depression, including depression of the respiratory system and other critical body functions, with or without opioid overdose.
Suboxone combines both medications to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, without the high, pain relief or emotional effects of continuing opioid use. They provide a small amount of the chemicals your body is used to, while also canceling the active effects of those drugs for most users.
This medication is designed to work with other addiction treatments, as part of a plan that should include stopping taking Suboxone at some point in a controlled way.
However, addiction to Suboxone has its own risk, even when the drug is used properly, so some level of withdrawal should be expected.
Additionally, Suboxone use has side effects and downside. Like every medication, Suboxone isn’t right for everyone.
Here are some of the common side effects of Suboxone use:
- Back pain
- Tongue pain
- Mouth numbness
- Fast heartbeats
In addition to those common side effects, there is also a risk of more serious side effects from Suboxone use. If you have any of these side effects it’s important to seek medical help immediately, from your prescribing doctor and any other specialists needed for treatment.
More serious side effects include:
- Any problems with your teeth and gums other than tongue pain or numbness in your mouth
- Weak or shallow breathing
- Stopping or pausing breathing in your sleep
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of coordination
- Extreme weakness
- Blurred vision
- Slurred Speech
- Severe stomach pain
- Dark urine
- Muscle stiffness
- Unexplained shivering
- Unexplained goosebumps
- And more
Some of these side effects are similar to the common side effects, but they are separated by a degree of severity. Others are unique to the more serious conditions that can arise from Suboxone, like higher serotonin levels in your body, low levels of cortisol, or the onset of opioid withdrawal.
Not everyone who uses Suboxone will experience side effects.
Higher doses and misuse of Suboxone increase the risk of side effects and may increase the severity of any side effects you experience.
Some side effects can be serious and require immediate medical attention. If you aren’t sure whether a side effect is an immediate issue, a nurse help line or poison control for more information and suggestions about what you should do next.
Remember that almost all opioids have a similar list of side effects. So, while Suboxone can have serious side effects and comes with some risks, those risks are lower than most opioid addictions. In addition, with management and medical care, you won’t have to continue taking Suboxone forever.
When it comes time to withdraw from Suboxone use, your doctor will probably prep you for some withdrawal symptoms. We’ve also put together a timeline of Suboxone withdrawal to make it easier for you to anticipate what it will be like, and to remember that withdrawal is temporary and will pass.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
Having a timeline of the symptoms you can expect during any withdrawal is important, and Suboxone is no exception.
However, you should expect a different timeline when dealing with Suboxone withdrawal. This is because the opioid component in Suboxone is designed for managing long-term chronic pain, which means that it stays in your body much longer than most opioid pain medications or street drugs.
Usually, Suboxone withdrawal is also shorter than other kinds of opioid withdrawal, which is good because it means you don’t have to deal with the most severe withdrawal symptoms for very long. You’re also slightly less likely to have ongoing withdrawal symptoms that pop up suddenly in the weeks and months after detox.
Here’s what you should expect during suboxone withdrawal:
The First 2-3 Days After Your Last Dose – Phase 1
During this time you might not have any significant symptoms from withdrawal. You might have some anxiety, sweating, mild agitation, or muscle pains, but those should be very mild and are likely as much about anticipating withdrawal symptoms as they are from the drugs themselves.
Days 3-5 – Phase 2
This is when you should feel the first onset of true withdrawal symptoms. Like other kinds of withdrawal, the symptoms start milder and worsen over time. Expect anxiety, goose bumps, shivering, hot and cold flashes, fatigue and general malaise.
Because the timing of withdrawal varies from person to person, you may move into the next withdrawal phase before day 5, or you might not start experiencing symptoms until day 4-5.
Remember there are 5 phases of withdrawal from Suboxone and try to track your progress through each phase.
Days 4-6 – Phase 3
This is likely to be the most severe phase of your withdrawal. Nausea, vomiting, agitation, muscle pain, and other symptoms are likely to crop up during this phase, and you’re likely to still have all the symptoms from phase 2.
Remember, staying hydrated and eating when you can during this phase is important. Typically, people will only have the most intense symptoms of suboxone withdrawal for 24-48 hours. Remind yourself that this is only temporary and that you will feel better soon.
Days 6-7 – Phase 4
This is when your symptoms should be subsiding. You may start to feel completely back to normal, or you might need a few extra days of rest, good food, and lots of hydration to help your body recover from the stress of withdrawal.
Day 7 On – Phase 5
By this point, you should be through or nearly through withdrawal. After that, your last symptoms should fade, and your energy levels are returning to normal.
Talk with your doctor about when it’s safe to resume normal activity, including exercise, and about learning some additional coping mechanisms that can help reduce your chances of relapsing or developing a future addiction.
Why It’s Important To Get Professional Help For Suboxone Withdrawal
Suboxone withdrawal should be made at least with medical supervision or consultation. That’s important because it can be easy to miss the signs that a reaction is starting that could cause problems, or that normal symptoms are starting to turn into something more serious.
Depending on how long you’ve been taking Suboxone, the symptoms you get during withdrawal may also tell your medical care providers that you shouldn’t be fully withdrawing from the drug yet. You may need to step down to a lower dose before it’s safe or reasonable to ask you to go through withdrawal.
It’s also important to have medical help with a withdrawal because you may have underlying health concerns or conditions that change how your body reacts to withdrawal, even if you don’t know you have those conditions.
Even just having a medical consultant will help you be better prepared for suboxone withdrawal, and will make it safer if something goes wrong.
Withdrawing under medical supervision may be much easier, as well. That’s because your doctors may have options to ease the worst symptoms of your withdrawal, help you stay hydrated, and monitor your caloric intake to ensure you’re as safe as possible.
While withdrawal can be done at home with the help of friends and family, it’s never the safest or even the most effective option.
If a medically assisted withdrawal is an option, it’s likely the best option for you.
How To Mitigate Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Completely mitigating suboxone withdrawal symptoms isn’t entirely possible, but there are plenty of options that can help make the process more comfortable and much safer.
Like most withdrawal, hydration and eating are key. It would help if you had a good supply of juice, Gatorade, and other drinks that help replenish electrolytes and give you some energy on hand. Avoid dehydrating beverages like sodas, coffee, or tea, and focus on drinks that help with hydration and provide nutrients and calories.
You should also have comforting media, like your favorite TV shows or movies, ready to help you stay distracted.
In addition, comfortable clothing, easy access to a bathroom, and a bed or a comfortable place to sit are important. You’ll want to spend this time resting as much as possible, so making it comfortable and easy will help.
Of course, medical assistance is the easiest and safest way to go through Suboxone withdrawal. If you’re ready to stop taking Suboxone, but want the professional support you deserve, contact a premier treatment center. We can help.
ASHP. Buprenorphine. Drugs.com. Published January 13, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.drugs.com/monograph/buprenorphine.html
ASHP. Naloxone. Drugs.com. Published March 3, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.drugs.com/monograph/naloxone.html
Sophia Entringer. Suboxone. Drugs.com. Published Aug 1, 2022. Accessed Sept 1, 2022. https://www.drugs.com/suboxone.html