How to Stop Using Suboxone
Suboxone (a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone) is an opioid medication that is used to help people withdraw from or stop using other opioids such as heroin, morphine, or oxycodone.
However, Suboxone itself can be abused and become problematic for some users.
This article will explore:
Benefits of Quitting Suboxone
Avoid overdose. Quitting Suboxone prevents the risk of death from accidental overdose , as well as possible long-term problems with brain functioning that may result from depressed respiration. 1
Save money. Maintaining a Suboxone habit is expensive. Users often develop tolerance and need to keep taking more of the drug to achieve the same effects as before.
Repair relationships. People who are addicted to Suboxone become preoccupied with obtaining the drug and using it, and they may neglect relationships with friends and family.
End the addictive cycle. Suboxone addiction leads to an exhaustive cycle where the person uses the drug, the effects wear off, and the person must continue using the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Get back to things that matter. Suboxone addiction can get in the way of a job, school, and other life goals.
Suboxone Addiction Treatment Center and Recovery Program Options
Treatment programs are not all 24/7 programs that last for weeks. They may consist of inpatient treatment, but they may also be outpatient only.
Inpatient treatment may last from a couple days to a few weeks. The length of stay depends on many factors, including a person's medical condition and if he or she is addicted to other substances. Inpatient treatment offers medical supervision for detox or other health concerns, and staff also provide individual and group counseling and help with follow-up care.
Outpatient treatment may be a person's sole treatment for Suboxone addiction or may occur after inpatient treatment to help a person continue to work on coping skills and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. Outpatient usually consists of group counseling, but it may include individual counseling as well. Some programs meet a few hours once or twice a week, while others meet every day for several hours.
Group counseling provides a number of benefits to people recovering from Suboxone addiction, including peer support, reduction of isolation, the opportunity to witness the recovery of others, the ability to hear the experiences of others, and a safe environment to learn and practice social skills. 2
Individual counseling is used in treatment programs or on a longer-term basis to help a recovering user maintain a drug-free lifestyle. Individual therapy often consists of some form of cognitive behavioral therapy , which helps a person to change certain thoughts and behaviors that can lead to drug use or relapse. Other forms of individual therapy include motivational interviewing , in which a counselor helps a person who wants to quit Suboxone develop motivation and become more engaged in treatment.
12-step programs are a cornerstone of substance abuse treatment. Some of the best-known 12-step programs include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which are free and available in most communities in the country. Some people have quit Suboxone or other drugs solely through NA or AA. But in most cases, these programs are part of ongoing care for people trying to maintain a drug-free lifestyle.
Many people struggle to stay clean after they leave a treatment program. They return to familiar environments filled with triggers and people they used to take drugs with.
Aftercare provides ongoing support to help people stay sober once they leave a formal treatment program. Many programs will help you establish an aftercare program before you discharge. Types of aftercare include:
12-step programs are a common form of aftercare. Many people continue to attend meetings for years after they leave treatment.
Outpatient counseling can continue for long periods of time after a stay in rehab.
Support groups to provide ongoing peer support for maintaining a drug-free life.
Sober living facilities or halfway houses provide continued supervision, may include drug testing, and typically offer help with employment, medical needs, and transportation.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms and Side Effects
Suboxone is often used as a medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings of other opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone.
But as with any opioid, Suboxone withdrawal can lead to very unpleasant symptoms and side effects. These are not life-threatening, but can be difficult to endure.
Effects can include:
- Muscle aches.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Goose bumps. 3
- Overall health.
- Underlying medical conditions.
- Severity of the addiction.
- Whether or not the person was addicted to other drugs.
Detox and Withdrawal Treatment
People who want to detox from Suboxone should do so under the supervision of a physician. Trying to quit on your own can lead to relapse due to cravings, pain, and emotional issues such as depression. People who are in withdrawal also lower their tolerance, and relapsing on a similar dose of Suboxone or on another drug can lead to overdose or death.
A physician will slowly taper your dose of Suboxone while monitoring you for any medical problems. The dose will be lowered over a period of a few days to several weeks. Once you are stabilized on a low dose, the physician will stop administering the drug.
Detox treatment should be combined with behavioral therapy to be most effective. People who detox without any other form of treatment are more prone to relapse. 4
Tips for Quitting
Get professional help. It is very difficult to withdraw from Suboxone without emotional support and medical assistance. As mentioned in the previous section, detoxing at home can lead to relapse or overdose, and people recovering from addiction need to learn skills to prevent relapse down the road.
Uncover the root causes of addiction. Receiving therapy as part of the withdrawal process also helps a person address the underlying reasons why he or she began using in the first place. If these emotional issues are not addressed, then they will resurface and lead a person back to using again as a way to cope.
Identify and avoid triggers. Triggers are people, places, or things that make you want to use drugs. They can lead to relapse if they are not dealt with. A rehab program can help you recognize your triggers and teach you ways to avoid or cope with triggers that come up.
Build a support system. Recovery is tough to do alone. Reach out to friends, family, and other people in recovery who support your effort to get clean. You can call them when you experience a craving or are struggling with another issue in recovery.
Participate in aftercare. Recovery is an ongoing process. Keep going to 12-step meetings, individual or group counseling, or support groups, or find a sober living environment .
How to Help an Addict Quit
Often, frustration with the addicted person will cause others to become angry and threaten the person into getting help, which can push the person away. It is not uncommon for a person to repeatedly deny that he or she has a problem.
Instead of being aggressive or confrontational, you can try a couple other approaches:
Find a time when the person is not intoxicated.
Talk to the person one-on-one before trying to stage an intervention .
Research available treatment options and be prepared to present them if the person is receptive to getting help.
Remain calm and express love and concern. Do not yell at the person or make any demands.
Tell the person how the addiction has affected you and/or your family.
Be ready for resistance, and back off if the person becomes angry or upset.
Offer to help the person find a program and to support him or her during treatment.
Set boundaries if necessary and don't enable the addiction by lying for the person or giving him or her money.
Can I Quit Cold Turkey? Is It Dangerous?
It is possible to withdraw from Suboxone cold turkey - but it is not advisable for several reasons:
Uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Opioids such as Suboxone cause such unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that many people quickly return to using it. The nausea, diarrhea, sweating, chills, muscle aches, and agitation increase the likelihood of a quick relapse.
Mental health issues. Sometimes, people who go through withdrawal become suicidal or acutely depressed. Therefore, it is best to be in a supervised treatment program or under the care of a physician who can help someone slowly taper off of Suboxone while monitoring any mental health symptoms.
Overdose from relapse. Many deaths from opioid overdoses occur shortly after detox because the body has decreased tolerance for Suboxone and is no longer receiving the protective benefits of the naloxone component of the drug. When a person returns to opioid use after tolerance has subsided, the risk of overdose and death becomes more pronounced. 3 An inpatient program with medical supervision can prevent this from happening.
Find a Rehab Center for Suboxone
If you or someone you know has an addiction to Suboxone, call one of our treatment referral specialists today at 1-888-319-2606Who Answers? . The specialist can confirm your insurance coverage over the phone.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Prescription drug abuse: What are some of the possible consequences of opioid use and abuse?
. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment.
. U.S. National Library of Medicine (2016). Medline Plus. Opiate and opioid withdrawal.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction .