How to Cope With Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms: Taper vs. Detox

Last Updated: Apr 17th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

How to Cope With Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms: Taper vs. Detox

With the growing prescription opioid epidemic, medications such as Suboxone are being used regularly as opioid replacement therapy (ORT) to combat some of the uncomfortable and challenging withdrawal symptoms. However, Suboxone is addictive too, so if the medication is misused or abused and a person tries to come off it, they may experience daunting Suboxone withdrawal symptoms.   

If you’re struggling with an addiction to Suboxone, it’ll help you to learn about what you may experience withdrawal-wise when you taper off the drug. Symptoms can be harsh, but they’re usually not dangerous – especially if you’re working with an addiction specialist when tapering off Suboxone.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a prescription medication that’s used to treat those who have become dependent upon or addicted to opioids, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine. It’s well known for reducing some of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping the use of opioids – especially cravings.

What is Suboxone made of?

Composed of buprenorphine, which is also an opioid medication, and naloxone, which blocks the euphoric or relaxed effect of opioids, Suboxone makes it harder for someone to feel the opioid high in the brain that they’d typically feel.  

If used as a prescription for drug addiction, Suboxone can help people get their life back on track, especially if they couple the medication with effective counseling and a supportive network.

Common Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’ve become addicted to Suboxone as a result of getting off an opioid or abusing the drug, you’ll likely face Suboxone withdrawal symptoms if you want to quit. The biggest obstacle when it comes to the effects of Suboxone withdrawal is the chance of relapsing. Though some experts believe that relapse may be a part of recovery, if you’re taking Suboxone as a maintenance drug for opioid addiction and relapse, you run the risk of overdose due to a decreased tolerance.

Therefore, it’s important that you stay committed to your treatment plan and work closely with your doctor in terms of your Suboxone treatment. Should you decide to stop using it, note that a Suboxone taper is recommended, as cutting it out cold turkey can be dangerous. 

Tapering off Suboxone

A taper is a gradual reduction of the medication.When tapering off Suboxone, you’ll likely experience various Suboxone withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as chills, fever, runny nose, and body aches
  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Mood swings

How Long Does Suboxone Withdrawal Last?

When does Suboxone withdrawal start and how long does it last? The intensity and length of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on factors such as:

  • The dosage you’ve been taking
  • How long you’ve been using the drug
  • Your state of emotional or mental health
  • Level of support
  • Multiple drug use
  • Age

Symptoms may also depend on the taper schedule you and your doctor have agreed upon. By tapering off the drug, your withdrawal symptoms should be less intense.

Typically, you’ll start to experience some mild Suboxone withdrawal symptoms in the first couple of days of your taper, including flu-like symptoms. Your symptoms may peak around days four or five. Within a week to a week and a half, the physical symptoms may subside, but psychological symptoms of tapering off Suboxone can continue for weeks or perhaps months if the addiction was severe.

How To Taper Off Suboxone

The safest way to cope with Suboxone withdrawal is to work with a doctor to create a taper schedule. Again, tapering means to reduce the dose over time, as this can help reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Short vs. long-term Suboxone taper

There are different opinions on whether a short or long Suboxone taper schedule is better. Some feel that the shorter, seven-day taper is best when it comes to getting through the brunt of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms quickly. Others feel that a 28-day taper is better for the patient in terms of a gentler withdrawal. Either way, it’s important to have your doctor monitor your vitals consistently.

You can taper off Suboxone in an inpatient or outpatient environment, depending on the level of care you need. When working with your doctor, you’ll likely create a tapering schedule that’s specifically designed for you depending on the level of addiction. Your doctor may also prescribe additional non-opioid medications that may help reduce Suboxone withdrawal symptoms.  

Tips For How To Cope With Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

In addition to working with a doctor or addiction specialist regarding a Suboxone taper schedule, there are other things you do to help reduce Suboxone withdrawal symptoms, including the following:

  • Stay connected with your doctor or counselor during your withdrawal period. Be open and honest with them about your symptoms and concerns.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Eat healthy foods that nourish your body.
  • Exercise regularly, such as brisk walking, yoga, bike riding, etc.
  • Try deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation to help reduce anxiety.
  • Attend a support group regularly, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Start creating a new kind of life for yourself, including routines and hobbies.
  • Spend time each day encouraging and/or motivating yourself toward success. Listen to podcasts, watch videos, read books, etc.

Options for Long-Term Suboxone Treatment

The best way to cope with Suboxone withdrawal symptoms is to reach out for professional help from those who specialize in addiction treatment. Whether you enroll in a residential treatment center and receive around-the-clock care, or you commit to an outpatient program where you attend sessions and return home, know that there are addiction experts ready and willing to assist you in getting free from opioid addiction.

To help prevent relapse, create a long-term treatment plan with an addiction specialist or doctor. Discuss how you will continue to have support in the weeks and months ahead. Consider attending a support group or seeing a therapist to help with any lingering psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or depression.

If you’re struggling with Suboxone addiction or an addiction to another opioid, consider reaching out. Give us a call at 855-425-4846 or contact us here for more information.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.