When Is The Best Time To Take Suboxone?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 14, 2021

Suboxone treatment can begin as soon as a person has entered into mild to moderate symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Suboxone should not be taken earlier than that, because it can cause precipitated withdrawal.

When To Start Taking Suboxone

The best time to take Suboxone is when mild to moderate symptoms of opioid withdrawal have started.

Though it will depend on a person’s circumstances and the advice of a trained medical professional, most people can begin Suboxone treatment 12 to 24 hours after the last dose of the drug of abuse.

It’s important to adhere to this timing because taking Suboxone too early can have adverse effects.

Learn more about taking Suboxone for opioid addiction

Start Taking Suboxone After Opioid Withdrawal Begins

In order to take Suboxone at the correct time, look out for the signs of opioid withdrawal. Once someone in withdrawal has experienced a few of these symptoms, it’s time to begin Suboxone treatment.

Signs of opioid withdrawal include:

  • muscle aches
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • raised blood pressure
  • runny nose
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fast heartbeat
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea

Factors That Affect When To Take Suboxone

Deciding the best time to start Suboxone treatment is going to look different for each individual patient. Always seek the medical advice of a Suboxone-trained doctor and get assessed before starting Suboxone.

The Type Of Opioid Drug Abuse

One major indicator of deciding when Suboxone treatment should start is identifying the type of opioid that’s been abused.

Short-acting opioids make their way through a person’s system and leave the body after about 12 hours. Examples of short-acting opioids include heroin, morphine, and oxycodone.

If a short-acting opioid was abused, Suboxone treatment can start after about the 12-hour marker because this is when the serious symptoms of withdrawal will begin to set in.

Long-acting opioids take longer to break down and exit the body. For long-acting opioids (like fentanyl or methadone), the time frame is about 24 hours.

For some, it may take closer to 36 hours before they begin feeling any serious symptoms of withdrawal. Once the symptoms set in, it’s time to start taking Suboxone.

The Stage Of Opiate Withdrawal

When a medical professional is assessing an individual for opioid withdrawal, they use something called the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS).

This is an 11-item scale designed to be used by clinicians in both inpatient and outpatient settings to rate the severity of common signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

The items on the COWS scale are:

  • resting pulse rate
  • sweating
  • restlessness
  • pupil size
  • bone or joint aches
  • runny nose or tearing
  • GI upset
  • tremor
  • yawning
  • anxiety or irritability
  • gooseflesh skin, or “goosebumps”

A person should have at least three of the above symptoms before starting Suboxone treatment.

Is There A Certain Time Of Day To Take Suboxone?

Suboxone can be taken at any time of day.

The medication has been known to produce drowsiness and decreased motor function, so it may be helpful to take it at bedtime.

If Suboxone doesn’t make you feel sleepy, it may work better for your schedule to take it in the morning.

This way, it’s a part of a regular routine and will help to prevent a person using Suboxone from using other opioids later in the day.

The important thing to do is to remain on the schedule chosen for taking Suboxone. The medication should be taken at the same time each day once the first dose is administered.

What If I Take Suboxone Too Early?

Taking Suboxone too early can lead to precipitated withdrawal.

What Is Precipitated Withdrawal?

Precipitated withdrawal is something that happens when a person takes buprenorphine while there are other opioids still in their system.

The buprenorphine (a partial opioid agonist) will replace the existing full opioid agonists and cause a sudden decrease in opioids. This then causes severe symptoms of withdrawal.

Treatment For Precipitated Withdrawal

Treatment for precipitated withdrawal involves administering small continuous doses of either buprenorphine or Suboxone. This will help to balance out the system and resolve withdrawal symptoms.

Find Suboxone Treatment Today

If you want to learn more about the proper way to go about Suboxone treatment for an opioid use disorder, call our helpline.

One of our representatives will talk you through each of your options in Suboxone treatment. Choose between inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and more.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 14, 2021
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