Suboxone is an opioid-based medication that can be taken for weeks, months, or years to treat opioid dependence and reduce opioid cravings in people formerly addicted to opioid drugs.
Although it is safe for use, taking Suboxone for even a short period of time can cause physical dependence.
For this reason, people who wish to stop taking Suboxone will need to gradually taper their dose or begin an acute Suboxone detox program for medical and behavioral health treatment.
What Is Suboxone Detox?
Detox, or detoxification, refers to a process of getting off a drug or allowing it to leave the system naturally through either drug tapering or stopping a drug all at once.
Stopping drugs like Suboxone too quickly can cause symptoms of withdrawal.
To discontinue Suboxone treatment, you should speak to your doctor about either creating a dose tapering plan, or entering a medical detox program.
Detox May Lead To Suboxone Withdrawal
People who have been taking Suboxone for opioid addiction may experience withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop taking it too quickly.
Withdrawal is the body’s reaction to the abrupt discontinuation of a habit-forming drug after using it regularly for a period of time.
Getting off Suboxone may result in the development of both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. This can be uncomfortable without medical treatment and support.
Timeline For Suboxone Detox And Withdrawal
The exact timeline for detoxing from Suboxone will depend on personal factors, such as how long you’ve been taking Suboxone and at what dose.
Here is a general idea of what to expect from Suboxone withdrawal:
- Days 1–3: Initial symptoms will set in within six to 12 hours. Over the course of the first few days, you may begin to feel flu-like and experience anxiety or agitation.
- Days 4–7: Physical symptoms of withdrawal will reach their peak within three to four days after stopping Suboxone, or tapering. Insomnia can also occur.
- After Week One: Most symptoms of withdrawal will level off after the first week of withdrawal. After this, you may continue to feel anxious, depressed, have difficulty sleeping, and experience opioid cravings for some time.
Signs And Symptoms Of Suboxone Withdrawal
Stopping Suboxone can cause withdrawal symptoms within a day of your last dose. This can make you feel physically sick or unwell.
Within hours, early signs of Suboxone withdrawal might include:
- hot or cold flashes
- runny nose
- teary eyes
- muscle or bone aches
Early symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal are generally mild. Over the course of the next few days, additional flu-like symptoms may develop.
Late withdrawal symptoms might include:
- nausea and vomiting
What Happens During Suboxone Detox?
What Suboxone detox looks like will depend on the type of detox program you and your doctor decide on.
Tapering Off Suboxone
If you decide to taper off Suboxone, this will be a gradual process. This may take weeks or months, depending on the duration of Suboxone use and other factors.
Withdrawal symptoms can occur during this process, but they will likely be mild as long as the tapering process is gradual. Tapering off Suboxone may take up to one month or longer.
Medical Detox For Suboxone
People who have been taking Suboxone for a long time, or have a history of chronic opioid addiction, may be directed towards a medical detox program to help them stop taking Suboxone.
Medical detox programs offer 24-hour supervision and support from trained healthcare personnel. Within a formal program, treatment for withdrawal symptoms can be provided.
Treatment for Suboxone withdrawal may involve:
- regularly monitoring vital signs
- administering medication for nausea, pain, or fever
- providing hydration and nutritional support
What Comes After Suboxone Detox?
Within a detox program, aftercare may be offered. This might involve coordinating additional treatment with a nearby drug rehab center or collaborating with you and your doctor to develop a long-term relapse prevention plan.
Continuing treatment with a medical doctor, counselor, or existing treatment team is highly recommended in the early months following Suboxone detox to prevent relapse to opioid use.
Coping With Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Stopping a medication after long-term use can be very uncomfortable, even when it’s done gradually.
While most of the withdrawal symptoms from stopping Suboxone will be mild, you might feel physically or emotionally off for some time.
Coping tips for managing Suboxone withdrawal:
- Relaxation: Consider the use of mindfulness or meditation techniques. This can be helpful for managing feelings of restlessness, agitation, or anxiety.
- Professional support: Continue working closely with your doctor or counselor, and be honest with them about how you’re feeling physically and emotionally during this process.
- Eat, sleep, hydrate: Make sure you’re attending to your basic needs during this time. Try to eat a balanced diet, ensure you’re getting enough sleep, and drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Home remedies: If you’re having trouble sleeping, feeling nauseous, or have other uncomfortable symptoms, talk to a doctor about recommended home remedies or over-the-counter medications that might help.
- Distract: Keeping yourself busy during this time, be it with hobbies, friends, or work, can help distract from some of the discomfort of this process.
It’s common to feel anxious, restless, or depressed for some time after stopping Suboxone.
If this is having a negative impact on your normal routine, be honest about this with your doctor or counselor. They can identify coping strategies or further treatment to help.
Suboxone Detox: Risks And Dangers
Suboxone withdrawal is rarely dangerous, but there are risks. Seeking medical support is highly recommended to help prevent opioid relapse in the process of getting off Suboxone.
People who discontinue Suboxone treatment too rapidly or without creating a long-term treatment plan are at risk for relapsing back into harmful substance use.
Risks associated with this include:
- fatal opioid overdose
- chronic addiction
- other chronic health conditions
To avoid these risks, consulting a doctor about tapering off Suboxone or entering a medical detox program is the safest way to detox from Suboxone.
Suboxone Detox FAQs
Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about detoxing from Suboxone.
❓ How Long Does It Take To Detox From Suboxone?
✔️ Within a medical detox program, detoxing from Suboxone will take four to seven days, on average. Taping off Suboxone gradually may take seven to 28 days.
❓ What Factors Can Affect The Timeline For Suboxone Withdrawal?
✔️ The timeline for Suboxone withdrawal can be influenced by various biological, environmental and personal factors.
How long it takes to detox from Suboxone might depend on:
- detox method (i.e. acute detox vs. tapering)
- duration of Suboxone use
- dose taken
- co-occurring mental health conditions
- drug metabolism
- risk of relapse
- detox setting
❓ Is Quitting Suboxone Dangerous?
✔️ Stopping Suboxone all at once without the guidance of a doctor is not recommended. This can trigger uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and is a high risk factor for opioid relapse and overdose.
Detoxing from Suboxone with the support of a doctor, counselor, or detox program can mitigate potential dangers and health risks during this process.
❓ Is Physical Dependence On Suboxone The Same As A Drug Addiction?
✔️ No. Physical dependence is a physiological reaction to chronic substance use. This just means that your body has become used to your taking this drug.
Addiction, on the other hand, is a disease that can make a person feel compelled to continue using a drug, despite negative consequences this poses to their health and general way of life.
❓ Do You Need To Detox From Suboxone?
✔️ Suboxone is an opioid-based medication that can be habit-forming. It’s not recommended that a person stops taking Suboxone all at once. A detox program will likely be needed.
Detoxing from Suboxone may involve creating a tapering plan with your doctor, or entering an inpatient detox facility for an acute detox program to help you discontinue Suboxone treatment.
Find Suboxone Detox Near You
Getting off Suboxone can be safely accomplished with the guidance of a medical and behavioral health treatment team.
If you or a loved one wants to discontinue Suboxone treatment, call our helpline today to find a Suboxone detox program 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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- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—SUBOXONE (buprenorphine and naloxone) label
- U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI Bookshelf)—Withdrawal Management - Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus—Buprenorphine Sublingual and Buccal (opioid dependence)
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMedCentral—Buprenorphine tapering schedule and illicit opioid use