Going Through Suboxone Withdrawal After MAT

Suboxone is effective in treating opioid addiction.

Suboxone Withdrawal

Table of Contents

Opioid addiction is a major problem throughout the world. Suboxone is a medication that blocks the opioid effects, making it easier to overcome dependence issues. However, the medication itself can become addictive and can lead to withdrawal symptoms. 1

This article will provide information on suboxone and what you can expect during treatment and the Suboxone withdrawal phase.  

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is made from combining the drugs buprenorphine 2 and naloxone. 3 It is part of an MAT (Medically Assisted Treatment) used to help patients overcome opioid addiction. It works chemically to decrease dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

What Does Suboxone Treat?

Suboxone treats opioid addiction by blocking the opioid effect in the body.

When opioids enter the brain, they activate a pain-blocking receptor and release endorphins that create pleasurable experiences in the body. Suboxone eliminates the effect and prevents the release of endorphins, making opioids less enjoyable and therefore less addictive.

Suboxone also reduces symptoms of withdrawal making patients less likely to relapse.   

Is Suboxone Addictive?

Suboxone is addictive. When people cannot get suboxone, their opioid dependency becomes more acute, making them want more suboxone. If they can’t find suboxone, they may use opioids again.

What’s more, when clients stop using the drug, they experience suboxone withdrawal that makes them want to go back to using. Withdrawal symptoms occur as the body tries to get used to sobriety. They are not pleasant, and people know that the only way to stop them is to start taking drugs again. That is why relapse is common during withdrawal.

When considering MAT treatments suboxone vs. methadone, suboxone is not as addictive as its MAT predecessor, methadone. The fact that it was designed specifically to treat opioid addiction means it has a lower risk of dependency. It also has less severe side effects.   

How is Suboxone Metabolized?

Once suboxone enters the body, it breaks down into buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is metabolized by the liver and leaves the body during urination. Buprenorphine is metabolized throughout the body and excreted through the urine and feces.  

Suboxone Half-Life

Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the body to metabolize a medication, so it is down to a half dosage of the total amount taken. Suboxone’s half-life depends on how long it takes both components of the drug to be metabolized.

The half-life of buprenorphine is 37 hours. The half-life of naloxone is 60 minutes. It typically takes a total of 8 days for Suboxone to no longer be detectable in the body.  

Factors That Affect Detection Time

While suboxone typically stays in the body for 8 days, it may be metabolized at a faster or slower rate which will affect detection time. Here are some factors that may increase or decrease detection time.

  • Body Fat/Mass: People with more body fat tend to absorb medications more quickly. 
  • Urine PH: PH levels range from 4.5 to 8 and the higher the number, the more alkaline the urine is. People with high alkaline urine are likely to metabolize medications at a rapid pace. 
  • Genetics: Genetics can play a role in how quickly medications go through the body. 
  • Metabolism: People with a fast metabolism will be able to process medication quickly.    

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

Suboxone withdrawal causes symptoms like those that are present during withdrawal from any other drug. These include the following: 4  

  • Nausea
  • Headaches 
  • Drug cravings 
  • Muscle and body aches 
  • Insomnia  
  • Digestive issues 
  • Depression  
  • Anxiety 
  • Lethargy 
  • Irritability  
  • Drug cravings 
  • Chills  
  • Fever 
  • Sweating 
  • Difficulty concentrating 

Precipitated Withdrawal

When patients stop taking opioids, they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms. While these symptoms are not pleasant, they must deal with them before they can start taking Suboxone. Suboxone should only be introduced after a specific withdrawal phase is achieved.

If clients do not wait and start taking Suboxone immediately after going off opioids, they will begin experiencing precipitated withdrawal. This withdrawal is an extreme form caused by taking buprenorphine before opioids have had an adequate amount of time to retreat from opioid receptors.

Precipitated withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Excessive diarrhea 
  • Intense muscle aches 
  • Excessive vomiting 
  • High fever 

Precipitated withdrawal can be life-threatening, but research has shown that administering micro doses of suboxone can be helpful. Other medications, like anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medications, can also reduce symptoms.

How Long Does Suboxone Withdrawal Last?

Suboxone withdrawal can last for days or weeks depending on the person and how long the drug has been taken. Precipitated withdrawal speeds up the process to a dangerous rate.  

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

MAT involves using medications to reduce addiction. It works to block the effects of the drug to make the person less likely to want to take it. It can also reduce withdrawal symptoms decreasing the chances of a relapse. 5

Using Suboxone as an MAT

Suboxone is an MAT that blocks the opioid effect so that the drugs do not stimulate pleasure centers in the brain. It also makes withdrawal symptoms less intense.  

Methadone vs. Suboxone

Suboxone is often used in MAT because it is known to be effective. It is also preferable to methadone. When considering methadone vs. Suboxone, Suboxone is the preferred choice. It was designed specifically to fight opioid addiction. Therefore, it is less addictive than methadone.

Another reason it is preferred is that it induces fewer side effects. Suboxone side effects that do occur are less severe and tend to be physical rather than mental.  

What to Expect

When you start taking Suboxone, there are some suboxone side effects you may experience. You will start to feel common withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts to the new drug. These will be moderate to mild, and they are a sign that your body is healing.

Symptoms tend to get better in 30 to 45 minutes. If they do not, your doctor may increase your dosage. Over the next few days, you will continue to see your doctor ensure the medication is working for you. When you are at the proper dosage, you should start feeling healthier and less dependent on opioids.  

Suboxone Taper

Suboxone taper can have one of two meanings. On one hand, Suboxone taper can refer to using the drug to taper off other drugs. On the other hand, it can refer to tapering off the Suboxone itself.   

Stabilization

You can taper off Suboxone by taking smaller and smaller doses. Over time, you will achieve stabilization.

Suboxone Detection Tests

Suboxone may turn up in drug detection tests including the following:

  • Urine: The 12-panel urine test can screen for buprenorphine which is found in Suboxone.
  • Hair: Suboxone can show up in a drug hair test which involves a small amount of hair being removed from the head and analyzed for drugs. 
  • Blood: During a blood test, medical professionals will take a blood sample and test it for drugs. Suboxone may show up in a blood test.
  • Saliva: A saliva test involves the provider swabbing the mouth and using the sample to test for drugs. Suboxone may be detected in saliva.    

Treatment for Suboxone Addiction

Various treatments can be used for suboxone addiction. Generally, these are broken down as follows. 

Suboxone Detox

The detox process is the first stage of rehab. It involves letting your body ‘dry out’ from any illegal substances. During this period, you may experience suboxone withdrawal symptoms that make relapse more likely. Many rehab facilities offer assisted detox providing medications that reduce symptoms and supervising patients to make sure they are comfortable and that they don’t go back to using.  

Therapies

After detox is complete, clients will usually continue treatment with various therapies. Different therapies can be used in different ways and some patients may require more than one type of therapy. In general, therapy works to identify the underlying cause of addiction. Then the therapist introduces healthy coping mechanisms that will replace the urge to use.  

Therapy occurs in an inpatient setting and may also continue after the client checks out. This aspect will help them adjust to sober living and maintain sobriety.      

How Blueprints for Recovery Can Help

While many rehab facilities help patients overcome addiction, Blueprints for Recovery offers an approach that sets us apart.

Patients that come through our doors go through a three-phase system. After assisted detox, they are provided with a customized therapy plan that helps them overcome the issues that led to addictive behavior.

After the inpatient phase is complete, patients move on to the transitional phase. This phase is the time when they gradually adjust to the ‘real world.’ They participate in thirty hours of therapy a week to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

Phase three is the launch phase. During this time, patients fully adjust to sober living knowing they have the support they need when they need it.

Don’t let addiction rob you of your ability to enjoy life. Help is just around the corner. Call Blueprints for Recovery today and to find out what to expect. Then look forward to better relationships and a higher quality of living.    


Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855417/
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/naloxone
  4. https://www.verywellmind.com/suboxone-withdrawal-4178344
  5. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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