Suboxone can be a lifesaver for individuals recovering from an opioid addiction or dependency. This medication helps to block the effects of opioids, allowing for a gradual reduction in cravings to return to the drug. Meanwhile, the individual has more time to adjust to a life of sobriety and solidify recovery.
For some who access medication-assisted treatment (MAT), however, there is the potential for the drug one has been taking to reduce the risk of relapse has managed to crossed over and become its own new addiction. In many cases, Suboxone works very well as a short, or sometimes long-term, medication to prevent opioid or opiate relapse. For some, however, Suboxone can be and prone to abuse and addiction itself.
Because Suboxone is itself a mild opioid, the dangers of dependency can emerge with long-term use. These long-term effects were not foreseen back in 2002 when the FDA approved it for MAT. Because of a long 37-hour half-life, Suboxone is subject to building up in the system, contributing to the risk of potential chemical dependency.
Not all Suboxone addictions develop as a result of being prescribed the medication for recovery assistance. Some individuals access the drug illicitly and use it as a substance of abuse. Whether the Suboxone was legitimately provided or used as a recreational drug, the result of addiction or dependency will require a medical detox and treatment to overcome. This prompts the important question, “What are the withdrawal symptoms of Suboxone” as someone anticipates the detox and withdrawal process.
How Suboxone Addiction or Dependency Develops
Suboxone is comprised of four parts buprenorphine (“bupe”) and one part naloxone. The buprenorphine acts by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, and the naloxone acts to revers the effects of opioids. Suboxone promised to be a safer, more easily prescribed alternative to methadone, which is still commonly used for individuals in recovery from heroin.
As with any other mind-altering substance, Suboxone can be abused. Indeed, addiction behaviors do die hard. When someone is being treated for an opioid dependency with Suboxone they may become tempted to begin abusing this medication. Some may choose to inject the drug, or snort it, in an effort to experience a high. Over time, the compulsive abuse of Suboxone can develop into a new addiction. When the individual uses Suboxone for an extended period of time, their brain adapts to the regular influx of the drug to the point where it is unable to function normally without Suboxone.
Symptoms of Suboxone Addiction
When someone is struggling with an addiction to Suboxone they will begin to exhibit the classic signs of drug addiction. Suboxone is an opioid, so there are the telltale sights of opioid abuse such as:
- Escalating tolerance to the drug’s effects, leading to higher consumption of the drug
- Doctor shopping to obtain additional prescriptions
- Purchasing the Suboxone off the street or the Internet
- Paraphernalia related to injecting the drug, such as needles, syringes, a white powdery substance, ropes or tubing to constrict blood flow
- Loss of interest in recovery efforts once made. Not attending meetings as much or at all, hanging out with old pre-rehab friends, keeping odd hours
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies once enjoyed
- Financial struggles due to missing work, spending excessive amounts of money on the drug, legal problems. They may steal money from their loved ones or ask friends for money
- Loss of weight. Suboxone addiction can lead to loss of appetite, neglecting nutrition, skipping meals and subsequent weight loss
There are also physical signs of Suboxone abuse. These include nausea and vomiting, dilated pupils, tearing of the eyes, impaired speech, fainting, sweating, muscle aches, sleep problems, and drowsiness.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Suboxone?
Once chemically dependent, if the individual attempts to cease taking the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist, which means that trying to stop it will trigger the same types of withdrawal symptoms of most other opiates. The withdrawal symptoms will vary from mild to severe based on the length of history using Suboxone, the level of dosing, and the mode used to administer the drug.
Suboxone detox and withdrawal is said to last longer than other opioids because it is chemically designed to block cravings for an extended period of time, meaning that it remains in bodily tissues longer. So, what are the withdrawal symptoms of Suboxone?
Withdrawal symptoms begin approximately 6-12 hours after the last Suboxone dose and include:
- Muscle aches
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
Many of these withdrawal symptoms, such as the gastrointestinal distress, fever, headache, and muscle ache, can be managed using simple over-the-counter medications by the detox team.
Why a Medical Detox is Important for Suboxone
Medical monitoring is important during a Suboxone detox. No one should attempt to just quit the Suboxone. Instead, professional oversight where a doctor can prescribe a tapering program can help minimize withdrawal severity and successfully complete the detox. This, however, means that a Suboxone detox may last up to a month for the most severe addictions. Patience is required in order to safely progress through the detox phase to completion. Individuals who attempt to stop cold turkey are likely to quickly relapse back to Suboxone use as the highly unpleasant symptoms would be difficult to endure.
Depression and cravings may persist for a month or more, which makes the individual at risk for relapse and suicidal ideation. The medical detox team will provide relief for the physical symptoms, as well as offer psychological aid to help manage feelings of depression and anxiety.
Holistic Therapies that Aid Suboxone Detox and Withdrawal
Natural therapies can aid in restoring health while promoting stress reduction during a Suboxone detox. There is much evidence that experiential and holistic therapies can help reduce the discomforts of withdrawing from opioids, and are very useful in ongoing aftercare and relapse prevention following treatment. Some of the holistic therapies used for a Suboxone detox acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. These activities can enhance recovery by regulating stress, as well as provide avenues to self-discovery that might be useful in subsequent addiction recovery.
Using MAT is still considered controversial for purists who prefer total abstinence from opiates as the goal. They argue that substituting one opiate for another has a high likelihood of creating yet another dependency. When this occurs it is necessary to form a new recovery plan that excludes any addictive medications.
Addiction Recovery Treatment for Suboxone Dependency
After the Suboxone detox and withdrawal process is completed, the individual will segue into an addiction treatment program. This is an integral component needed for moving beyond addictive behaviors and into healthy, productive ones that will help sustain recovery from opioids.
Treatment for a Suboxone addiction may be provided in an outpatient setting or a residential setting. The outpatient programs will offer several levels of intensity. In most cases of opioid addiction if outpatient treatment is desired the most intensive level is appropriate. This is the partial hospitalization program (PHP), also referred to as a day program, which requires daily participation in various therapeutic sessions throughout the week. The PHP involves 25-30 hours per week of participation in the therapy and education elements, but provides the flexibility to reside at home during the program. This allows someone who is not able to take an extended leave from family obligations to still obtain the treatment they need following detox.
The residential program involves a long-term commitment of 1-9 months. During the residential program, the individual will reside at the treatment center and participate in a wide variety of treatment elements daily. These programs provide structure and constant support, while allowing the individual to remove themselves from their usual home environment to be able to focus completely on recovery.
What to Expect in Suboxone Recovery Treatment
Most addiction recovery programs, whether it is an outpatient or residential format, will provide fundamental treatment elements to aid the individual in overcoming a Suboxone addiction. These treatment elements include:
- Psychotherapy sessions. These therapy sessions are conducted one-on-one with a licensed psychotherapist who will assist the individual in identifying key addictive behaviors and patterns. Once these are noted, the therapist will use evidence-based therapies to guide the individual toward adopting more positive and productive thought and behavior patterns in recovery.
- Peer group sessions. Group therapy involves a small collection of peers who can discuss openly topics related to overcoming addiction. The therapist will provide the topics and facilitate discussions so they are productive and supportive.
- Education. Addiction education is key to the overall success of the treatment program. In these classes, individuals learn about how opioid addiction develops, and then are taught recovery tools that can help them avoid relapse.
- Other activities. In a residential program there will be a focus on nutrition and fitness, both important to restoring health and wellness in recovery.
- Continuing care. Once the treatment program is completed, continuing care services should be accessed for the best chance at obtaining a lasting recovery. These include outpatient counseling, sober living housing, and attending recovery meetings.
Ken Seeley Communities Provides Suboxone Detox Services
Ken Seeley Communities is a integrated addiction recovery program located in Palm Springs, California. At Ken Seeley Communities, our philosophy for recovery from addiction or chemical dependency to Suboxone is centered on a transformational spectrum of treatment elements. This involves the initial medical detoxification process, participation in addiction recovery therapies, and continuing care services such as sober living and outpatient programming to help reinforce sobriety. When wondering what are the withdrawal symptoms of Subonxone, please contact our team for a thorough explanation of the detox and withdrawal process at (877) 744-0502.