Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid dependence. Suboxone detox is often used as part of opioid addiction treatment to help patients manage withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s important to do this following the instructions of a qualified addiction specialist since suboxone also carries a risk for addiction. Suboxone detox can make the symptoms of opioid withdrawal less severe in severity and duration. Of course, this can only happen if a dedicated medical team prescribes suboxone as part of treatment. People who use the drug by their own means can instead develop an addiction to suboxone and trade one addiction for another.
Suboxone is a prescription drug approved by the FDA in 2002 for the treatment of chronic opioid abuse. 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.
What’s a Suboxone Detox Program Like?
While someone can receive a prescription for suboxone, the drug still has the potential for misuse. The suboxone maintenance program, in particular, is best approached at a clinic under medical supervision, and it often follows a few stages.
- Induction Phase: Individuals must have no opiates in their system and show moderate withdrawal symptoms; this stage generally lasts one week
- Stabilization Phase: Here, individuals move into either a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP) to receive an adjustment of their suboxone dose, generally anywhere between two days and a month
- Maintenance Phase: By now, the suboxone dose starts to go down weekly until patients no longer need them, usually a couple of months to a year
How Long Does Suboxone Block 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 medical professionals will still require patients to take the drug once per day to lengthen the action of Suboxone and lessen the withdrawal symptoms. Nonetheless, it truly depends on your history and body composition regarding the use of Suboxone to block opiates. As some people will experience worsened withdrawal symptoms, their treatment plans might be slightly different. And, the amount of time it stays in the system will significantly vary.
But, Doesn’t Suboxone Cause Addiction?
Opioid dependence happens with any long-term opioid use, even if people follow doctors’ orders. Once they become physically dependent on a drug, withdrawal symptoms are bound to happen when the drug leaves their system. Withdrawal from Suboxone addiction isn’t as intense as other opioids. It can still cause withdrawal symptoms like muscle aches, nausea, tremors, anxiety, and restlessness. Those who are taking Suboxone to treat other addictions will experience less severe symptoms and side effects. However, these withdrawal symptoms are still uncomfortable and increase the risk of relapse and potential overdose.
Side Effects of Quitting Suboxone
Withdrawal from Suboxone isn’t as intense as other opioids, but it still produces uncomfortable withdrawal effects, including:
- Muscles aches and pains
- Stomach cramps or diarrhea
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tremors or twitching
- Runny nose
- Teary eyes
Of course, the timeline of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms is different for everyone. Physical symptoms usually go away first. But, if someone is struggling with drug addiction and cuts suboxone cold turkey, they can experience mood swings, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms. To some, these will be evident even a few hours after their last dose. To others, it might take a couple of weeks or months to start feeling the symptoms. It depends on the number of drugs they use, for how long, and if they struggle with any co-occurring disorder.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System?
Generally speaking, the elimination half-life of Suboxone is between 12 hours and forty-eight hours; it usually won’t go beyond three days. That’s just a ballpark estimate, as it ultimately depends on the individual taking the drug. But, in most cases, Suboxone can stay in someone’s system for 24 to 72 hours and more. Different drug tests can detect Suboxone at various lengths of time, for example:
- Saliva: While not commonly used to test for this particular drug, Suboxone can appear in saliva tests minutes after taking the medication, and it stays in the system for up to five days.
- Urine: Urine screenings are the most common tests for drugs. Suboxone will stay in urine for up to 14 days after the last dose.
- Blood: Rarely used, but blood tests can detect Suboxone for up to 96 hours after the last dose.
- Hair: Hair tests have the most extended detection window. Depending on the dose you took, Suboxone can be detected in your hair follicle for up to 1-3 months after the last use.
Suboxone is readily detectable in urine with a drug screening protocol after 40 minutes of taking the last dose. But it can take well over 60 hours for it to leave the body. Depending on how long an individual has taken suboxone, the amount, how frequently they take it, their weight, metabolism, and any other medications (legal or illegal) they may take. It’s also important to note that buprenorphine-naloxone may still block opioids even if it has a short half-life in a particular individual.
Suboxone Treatment in Florida
While Suboxone treatment can benefit those struggling with opioid addiction or heroin abuse, it’s not a magic solution. Suboxone can help ease withdrawal symptoms and make the initial steps of recovery more comfortable. However, it needs comprehensive addiction treatment involving behavioral therapy, group support, and more to be effective. If you or someone you know struggles with substance use disorder, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling 866-308-2090. Suboxone maintenance is a treatment option available, but not the only one. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in creating tailor-made drug abuse treatment programs that adapt to your unique needs.