In the journey to healing from opioid addiction, doctors and specialists have many options to help patients make remarkable progress. Suboxone, which typically lasts up to three days, is one of the go-to medication-assisted treatments used in opioid addiction recovery. Still, when thinking about how long does Suboxone blocks opiates, things like weight, metabolism, age, and history of drug abuse play a role.
Suboxone is a common medication used to prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, Suboxone mimics the same effects of opiates, somehow lessening the brain’s need for opiates. When used under strict regulation, Suboxone can be safe and long-lasting. But, since the medication has similar effects to opiates, there’s a slight risk of misuse when people use them without supervision.
The active ingredients in Suboxone are buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It binds with the opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in a decrease in pain. It halts withdrawal symptoms and reduces the craving for opiate-based drugs such as heroin.
Naloxone fills opioid receptors and prevents other drugs from activating them. Unlike other medications for detox from opiates, Suboxone includes naloxone, which might help prevent users from drug misuse in the future. Both are proven to be effective in treating the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. However, both can cause addiction.
How Long Does Suboxone Blocks Opiates?
Suboxone has a long elimination half-life. For buprenorphine, this process takes about 37 hours, but it can extend to eight days. Overall, a single dose of Suboxone will block opioids for about 3 days. However, most doctors will still require patients to take the drug once per day to lengthen the action of Suboxone and lessen the withdrawal symptoms.
Nonetheless, when it comes to the use of Suboxone to block opiates, it truly depends on your history and body composition. As some people will experience worsened withdrawal symptoms, their treatment might be slightly different. And, the amount of time it stays in the system will significantly vary.
The Reality of Opiates Withdrawal
Opiate withdrawal happens when people either stop taking the drug or reduce their regular intake. According to the US National Library of Medicine, 9% of the population misuses opiates at some point in their lives.
All opioid medications cause physical and even psychological dependence. When people change their doses abruptly, quit, or keep up their supply, withdrawal symptoms appear. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, which causes people to increase their dose as they try to feel better. However, this bouncing back to their previous amount places them at high risk of an overdose.
Common withdrawal symptoms for opioids include:
- Muscle ache
- Abdominal cramping
How Suboxone Supports Addiction Recovery
Suboxone is a partial agonist and also an opioid antagonist. These two elements help reduce cravings and lessen the severity of symptoms produced by opioid withdrawal. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that though the components of Suboxone produce euphoria-like side effects, these are much weaker than those associated with opioids such as heroin.
Ideally, Suboxone treatment happens in three phases: induction, stabilization, and Suboxone maintenance. The first portion kicks in 12 to 24 hours after the last use. Treatment starts in the early stages of withdrawal to help prevent the symptoms. The stabilization phase begins when patients are rarely or no longer using opiate drugs, have no cravings, and experience fewer symptoms.
Finally, the Suboxone maintenance phase continues to use a steady dose of the medication until patients no longer need it.
Is Suboxone Effective?
Buprenorphine, the main ingredient in Suboxone, was approved for clinical use by the FDA in 2002. Unlike methadone treatment, Suboxone is available in non-specialized facilities, allowing more people to receive treatment.
One study found that even when Suboxone was administered in unsupervised settings, it was well tolerated and promoted abstinence from opiate drug use. Another study found similar findings with participants who remained in long-term treatment facilities while being treated with Suboxone.
Finally, another report by the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that most participants in a study were successful in abstaining from opioid use during Suboxone treatment. All studies show that medical supervision also discouraged misuse of the medication.
Finding Help for Opioid Addiction
Thankfully, Suboxone treatment remains heavily regulated and difficult to acquire on the streets. This is important considering that Suboxone mimics the effects of opiates. Large doses of this medication can cause overdose and other dangerous health adversities. However, when people enter medication-assisted treatment programs, the use of Suboxone can effectively treat their opioid addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please seek help. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we incorporate Suboxone treatment in our rehab programs when appropriate. Talk to one of our admission specialists today to learn more about our rehab programs and find how you can start your recovery journey today.