A combination of the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone, Suboxone is used to prevent symptoms caused by withdrawal from prescription or illegal opioids and to treat pain. The National Institutes of Health has deemed Suboxone to be safe and effective for opioid detoxification and treatment of mild to moderate physical dependence on opioids. However, dependence upon and addiction to Suboxone can occur.
Detoxing from Suboxone
When undergoing detoxification from any addictive substance, including Suboxone, it is advisable to do so under medical supervision. This could take place at an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility or under the direction of another medically trained addiction specialist. Without medical and other specialized support, addicts attempting to quit on their own often experience depression, intense cravings, body aches, and other negative withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, relapse is more common. With professional support, symptoms are generally less severe, and long-term recovery much more likely.
Quitting Suboxone cold turkey is not recommended. It may not be safe and can result in more severe withdrawal symptoms than a tapering dose monitored by a physician. As opposed to cold turkey, tapering takes place over days or even weeks, as the physician slowly reduces the dose of Suboxone. Once the recovering addict is stabilized on a low dose, the Suboxone can be safely discontinued. Throughout this process, the addict is constantly monitored by the physician for medical concerns.
Even when detoxing under medical supervision there will likely be some side effects. But symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and sleep problems can be lessened by physician-recommended medications. It is also important for heart rate and blood pressure to be monitored by a doctor during the detoxification process.
There are many steps a recovering addict can take to increase success of long-term recovery, decrease negative effects of detoxification and become healthier and happier overall.
- Regular exercise: Delivers physical and psychological benefits. Lessens pain, improves sleep, boosts mood.
- Healthy diet: Lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy oils, and limited sugar and processed foods are key to greater physical and mental health.
- Water: Drink at least 2 liters per day while detoxing.
- Rely on support system: Be open with friends and family about your goals and needs. Ask for support. Identify someone you can call night or day who will be available to support you, especially during critical times of need.
- Over the counter (OTC) supplements: Ask your physician if an OTC supplement may be helpful for easing withdrawal symptoms.
- Group therapy: Join a 12-step program such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or other support group.
- Professional therapy: Counseling and behavioral therapy combined with medically supervised detoxification has been shown to have the highest rate of long-term success.
- Aftercare: Continue healthy lifestyle changes, participation in support group and/or counseling after formal treatment ends.