Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, is a prescription drug that can treat opioid withdrawal. It is also prescribed for long-term use as a maintenance treatment for opioid use disorder.
You may safely take buprenorphine as part of a medication-assisted treatment program for weeks, months, or years after beginning the road toward addiction recovery.
The length of buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction varies and can be determined by a doctor based on your personal needs.
Three Stages Of Buprenorphine Treatment
Buprenorphine is an opioid-based medication that is used as a long-term maintenance treatment for opioid use disorder, including for addiction to prescription opioids and illicit opioids like heroin.
Buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction occurs in three distinct stages: initiation of buprenorphine, stabilization, and maintenance.
Initiation: Stage One Of Buprenorphine Treatment
Length of time: First few days of withdrawal
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that can be taken 12 to 24 hours after a person’s last use of an opioid drug to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, including opioid cravings.
This is the initiation or induction stage of buprenorphine treatment. Administering small doses of buprenorphine (Suboxone) during this time can reduce the length of the withdrawal process.
Buprenorphine treatment should not be initiated until at least eight hours after the use of a short-acting opioid, or 72 hours after a long-acting opioid like methadone.
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Stabilization: Stage Two Of Buprenorphine Treatment
Length of time: Up to 1 month
After early withdrawal has passed, the next step in the buprenorphine treatment process is stabilization.
During this early stabilization period, a doctor may make adjustments to the person’s dosage based on how they’re feeling and any side effects they’re experiencing.
Side effects during this phase of treatment may include difficulty sleeping, daytime drowsiness, other protracted withdrawal symptoms.
Stabilization, and finding the right dosage for a person, can take anywhere from a few days up to a few weeks.
Maintenance: Stage Three Of Buprenorphine Treatment
The final stage of buprenorphine is maintenance. At this point, a doctor has determined a daily dosage that allows a person to begin feeling and acting normally.
What can occur during the maintenance stage:
- frequent medical visits (weekly to begin with, followed by monthly visits)
- dosage adjustments as needed
- attending drug counseling and support groups
- urine drug testing
People in this stage of treatment may take buprenorphine for weeks, months, or any number of years, in conjunction with behavioral therapy, counseling, or a full drug rehab program.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), buprenorphine treatment can be indefinite.
The length of treatment will depend on your needs.
What Factors Can Affect The Timeline Of Buprenorphine Treatment?
Addiction recovery is not a one-size-fits-all process. How long you take buprenorphine for opioid addiction will depend on personal factors related to your progress in treatment.
Personal factors assessed during treatment might include:
- presence of opioid/heroin cravings
- how long you have been receiving treatment
- how long you were addicted to opioids
- treatment history
The timeline for buprenorphine treatment is not fixed. This will largely be determined through ongoing collaboration and discussion with your prescribing physician or treatment team.
Find Buprenorphine Treatment Today
Opioid addiction can be life-threatening without treatment. Alongside behavioral therapy, buprenorphine is one of the most effective treatments for opioid addiction.
If you or a loved one is looking for buprenorphine treatment, we can help you find a treatment program that’s right for you.
Call us today to learn more about buprenorphine treatment or to find buprenorphine treatment near you.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
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- American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM)—Buprenorphine/naloxone treatment for opioid dependence
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—Buprenorphine
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—Buprenorphine Quick Start Guide
- Women’s College Hospital—Starting Buprenorphine Therapy: A Guide for Patients