Suboxone Withdrawal After Opioid Addiction

Problems with Suboxone Withdrawal after Opioid Addiction

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Suboxone was the first opioid replacement therapy to receive approval from the Food and Drug administration since Methadone in 1972.1 When used as part of a medication-assisted treatment program at Arrow Passage Recovery, Suboxone can be a beneficial addition to your treatment program.

Suboxone helps block the pleasurable effects of opioid drugs allowing someone struggling with opioid addiction to reduce their dependency on opioids as they work through detox and withdrawal.  

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a combination drug consisting of Buprenorphine and naloxone.2 The medication works in the brain to assist with opioid use disorder treatment. Together, these two drugs help decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce one’s dependence on opioids such as heroin.

When used as part of a medication-assisted therapy (MAT) program, Suboxone prevents the painful and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that often accompany detox from opioids. Suboxone comes in two forms; a tablet and a dissolvable film that is placed in the mouth. Both types are equally effective, and the kind you use will depend largely on your unique treatment program and personal preference.

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Suboxone is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance, which means it is a drug with a moderate risk of addiction. Although Suboxone is potentially addictive, the risk of addiction is generally less than other opioids. Buprenorphine, the opioid ingredient in Suboxone, can cause moderate withdrawal symptoms should you suddenly stop taking the substance all at once.3

Suboxone for Opioid Addiction

Suboxone helps reverse the side effects of opioids. When used as part of a medication-assisted therapy program like Arrow Passage Recovery, Suboxone can reduce the intensity and severity of withdrawal symptoms often experienced as part of opioid addiction treatment.

How Does It Work? 

The separate components in Suboxone act together as partial opioid agonists, meaning they block the opiate receptors in the brain and reduce cravings and urges that often become overwhelming during detox.

The best way to understand a partial opioid agonist is to think of the brain as a doorway. Without Suboxone inhibiting access, the door is wide open for opioid drugs to enter. When you take Suboxone as part of an opioid addiction treatment program, that doorway is partially closed, making it more difficult for opioids to enter and attach to receptors on the brain, thereby decreasing the effects of opioid drugs on the body.

Naloxone, one of the two ingredients in Suboxone, specifically helps reverse the effects of opioid drugs. It helps to make withdrawal more manageable. Suboxone binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and remains there for several days. Should a person relapse and take an opioid, Suboxone will block the high associated with that drug, making the drug less desirable.

How Long Should Suboxone Be Prescribed?  

Because addiction affects everyone differently, there is no specific timeline for how long Suboxone should be prescribed. Some people may require a prescription lasting for a few months, whereas others may continue to refill their prescription for a year or more.

Treatment with Therapy for Addiction  

As part of a medically assisted treatment program at Arrow Passage Recovery, Suboxone is used to reverse the effects of fast-acting opioids, including heroin and prescription pain killers. Suboxone can also be used during the initial treatment process and in the early stages of recovery to help manage withdrawal symptoms that accompany quitting opioids.

Suboxone works best when used as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program at an addiction treatment center. When included as part of a plan that provides therapy, medical support, and aftercare planning, Suboxone works to eliminate opioid cravings, helping to prevent relapse.

Suboxone Withdrawal symptoms

There are very few drugs on the market that have no side effects. Despite its benefit as an opioid treatment medication, side effects from Suboxone can occur, especially if a dependency has developed. Someone who uses this substance and becomes addicted will generally feel similar side effects to those experienced when withdrawing from prescription pain medications or other opioids like heroin.

Some of the most common signs of Suboxone side effects include:

Nausea or vomiting

Digestive disturbances

Respiratory difficulties

Difficulties concentrating

Appearing high or sedated

Like other withdrawal symptoms, Suboxone withdrawal symptoms depend on the severity of the addiction and other factors unique to the individual. Again, there are certain common symptoms that many will experience when detoxing from Suboxone addiction. These will often include:


Difficulties sleeping

Flu-like symptoms

Sweating and shaking

Mood changes

Increased heart rate

Aches and pains

Gastric disturbances

Intense cravings to use the substance

Precipitated Withdrawal 

If you attempt to overcome addiction using Suboxone, you should be familiar with precipitated withdrawal. When you take your first Suboxone dose, it is important to have already started withdrawing from the opioids you were taking. If you take Suboxone before you have sufficiently withdrawn from other drugs, it can produce a severe form of withdrawal known as precipitated withdrawal.4 Precipitated withdrawal occurs suddenly, and the symptoms are severe.

How Long Does Suboxone Withdrawal Last? 

Suboxone withdrawal symptoms generally begin within twenty-four hours after your last dose. Similar to opioid withdrawal symptoms, they often last for seven to ten days, although they decline in severity after the first seventy-two hours. Some withdrawal symptoms may last for up to one month. The best way to reduce the intensity and severity of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms is to slowly taper your Suboxone dosage under the guidance of a medical professional.

Tapering Suboxone 

The process of tapering Suboxone involves slowly reducing your dosage over weeks or months. You must not choose to start this process independently without the support and guidance of a medical professional. Reducing your dosage by too much can lead to sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be dangerous and life-threatening.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Treatment for opioid addiction generally follows a particular path depending on your unique treatment needs and goals. For many looking to overcome opioid addiction, the first step is detox.


In a medically supervised detox setting at an addiction treatment center, trained professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other treatment providers, are available to ensure you can detox safely. Depending on your unique detox and treatment needs, they will continue to monitor your vitals throughout the detox process and. In some cases, they may provide medications such as Suboxone to reduce the intensity and severity of your withdrawal symptoms. Ongoing medical support increases your safety should life-threatening withdrawal symptoms occur. 

Inpatient Care    

Once you have entirely detoxed from substances, it is possible to transition directly into the therapeutic portion of an addiction treatment program. Addiction treatment is provided in various settings with various levels of care. An inpatient rehab setting is the best option if you struggle with a severe addiction or have complete treatment before and experienced a relapse.  

During inpatient or residential treatment, you will stay at our treatment facility and work towards your recovery. Each day, you will participate in various types of therapy, including group, individual, and family therapies.  

Outpatient Care    

In the outpatient environment, many of the same services are provided. However, clients live at home and come to the treatment facility during the day for therapy. For some, this type of treatment may allow them to seek addiction help when residential treatment is not an option. Outpatient care, however, is not meant for all circumstances. It is vital to communicate your treatment needs openly and honestly.  

Find the Path to Healing     

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to opioids or Suboxone, help is available so you can overcome your addiction. At an addiction treatment facility like Arrow Passage Recovery, our caring and compassionate team is here to provide support and guidance as you begin your recovery journey.  

We provide comprehensive care beginning with medically supervised detox and continuing through all aspects of therapy and addiction education.  Our recovery professionals are here to make your healing journey comfortable and fulfilling. 



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