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Suboxone Withdrawal

Suboxone is a medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone and is used to treat opiate dependence.  Suboxone withdrawal can last for up to a month.  Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Digestive distress
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Trouble concentrating

Drug cravings

Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist and can produce withdrawal effects that are similar to other opioids if an individual stops taking it suddenly.  It can also be addictive.  Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Muscle and body aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety, depression, and irritability
  • Insomnia or drowsiness
  • Cravings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Fever or chills

Depending on the length of time and amount of Suboxone that has been taken, Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can vary in duration and severity.  Physical withdrawal symptoms typically subside after a month, although psychological dependence can last much longer.


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Withdrawal Timeline

Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are most severe in the first 72 hours, when most of the physical symptoms are present.  After a week, stronger symptoms typically subside and general aches and pains, as well as insomnia and mood swings are still present.

Depression can be the worst symptom after the second week of Suboxone withdrawal.  Intense cravings and depression will typically still be experienced after one month.  It is during this time that there is a greater potential for relapse.  The timeline for withdrawal is as follows:

72 Hours:  The strongest physical symptoms are felt

1 Week:  Mood swings, insomnia, body aches and pains

2 Weeks: Depression

1 Month: Depression and cravings

It is important that a person going through withdrawal stay in contact with a medical professional to help prevent relapse due to the prolonged withdrawal symptoms.

Medication and Managing Addiction

Suboxone may be used as temporary medication for those who are in detox for other opiates.  For total sobriety, it is necessary to completely taper off the medication.  In order for the individual to have stability throughout the process, it should be done in a slow and steady manner.

However, in cases when Suboxone becomes the addictive substance, it is no longer serving the person in a useful manner.  It then becomes imperative that a new path to recovery is charted and it may not include any kind of medication.  The guidance of a substance abuse treatment professional is needed, someone who:

  • Is familiar with the client’s issues that are contributing to the situation
  • Can provide a comprehensive treatment plan that is able to meet the client’s needs
  • Experience and educated in substance abuse treatment
  • Able to provide long-term support

It is not always necessary to use medication to stabilize an individual during recovery, this can be achieved through a comprehensive treatment plan that includes addressing detox as well as withdrawal symptoms in a medical detox environment.


Components of a Non-Medicated Detox

  • Alternative therapy to manage physical withdrawal symptoms
  • Experienced, highly educated treatment professionals
  • Peer support
  • Continued relapse prevention and long-term aftercare
  • Therapeutic follow-up care

Therapy is key to maintaining sobriety for the long-term, otherwise it is impossible to remain abstinent for any long period of time.

The therapeutic options listed below may be incorporated into an individual’s treatment plan, depending on the experiences of the client that lead up to the addiction and their future goals.  Typically, a Suboxone therapeutic treatment plan will include:

Assessment and evaluation:  It is important that all of the issues that lead up to a client’s use of drugs are understood.  Co-occurring mental health disorders, behavioral disorders, trauma, underlying medical conditions and other issues should be identified early on in order to be sure that all issues are addressed while in recovery.

Individual treatment plan:  An individualized treatment plan will be created based on the results of the assessment and evaluation.  Also considered are the client’s goals for recovery, available resources and length of time in treatment.

Personal therapy:  Regular, one on one meetings with a therapist throughout recovery can provide the client with a safe place to work on challenges of recovery, manage treatment goals and work through past issues.

Individual case management:  This is essential to make sure that all components of the recovery and working in a way that provides coping skills to maintain a long recovery after treatment.

Group therapy sessions:  Regular meetings in a group setting with others who are going through recovery provides support during treatment and for years afterwards.

12-Step or peer support meetings:  Many programs incorporate the philosophy and group session style of the 12-Step treatment into their programs.  This offers clients a portable therapy option and positive support in recovery to help them transition into an independent sobriety.

Other therapy:  Exercise therapy, art based therapy, nutritional therapy and animal assisted therapy are only a few of the helpful options that can be incorporated into the traditional therapies above.  These therapies are tailored more to a client’s personal interests and needs.

Holistic therapy:  These can also be added to personalize therapy to the individual’s interests.  Popular options include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and more.

Aftercare and long-term support:  It is important that there are ongoing therapies for years after treatment.  Those who are successful in sobriety are those who remain engaged in treatment for all past and present issues or challenges.  Continuing to attend support group meetings, personal therapy sessions, or holistic and alternative therapy options is crucial.

Coping with Withdrawal

Although there is no exact way to eliminate the symptoms or physical discomfort of Suboxone withdrawal, a variety of various coping strategies are available to help deal with the stress withdrawal can cause.

These are useful strategies to learn as they can be used to cope with any kind of stress.  People who learn and use positive coping behaviors will be better equipped to deal with recovery rather than reverting to old behaviors such as drug or alcohol use.  Some of these coping strategies are:

Social interaction:  It is important to keep in contact with friends and family and remain social, even if they are unaware of the recovery process.

Physical activity:  It can be extremely beneficial during recovery to maintain an exercise program, whether it involves going to the gym, or simply taking walks or hiking in nature.  Physical exercise also helps to cope with stress.

Relaxation or hobbies:  It can be difficult to find time to relax or pursue hobbies, however, it is important to do so as keeping busy with a hobby or learning relaxation techniques can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Adaptation:  Withdrawal is very much a part of the recovery process, being able to accept this and maintain a positive outlook can help to replace negative emotions with positive thoughts pride in your recovery.

Withdrawal is a temporary condition that can be managed with these coping strategies.  It is a difficult process, but worth fighting through.

During Suboxone detox and withdrawal, Milestone Detox can provide the most supportive and comprehensive medical environment needed during all stages of detox to ensure successful recovery.  If you or a loved one need help, call one of our professional admissions team members for a free and confidential assessment.

It is not always necessary to use medication to stabilize an individual during recovery, this can be achieved through a comprehensive treatment plan that includes addressing detox as well as withdrawal symptoms in a medical detox environment.

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