Suboxone is a medication that’s used in opioid dependence treatment. Even though it can be very helpful, it can also lead to physical and psychological dependence. This may be surprising since many people associate drug dependence with alcohol or illegal substances. Even though Suboxone is often medically prescribed, dependence can be dangerous. If you or a loved one is dealing with Suboxone dependence, you should seek professional help at the earliest opportunity.

What Is Suboxone?

There are only a few medications that can be prescribed to help manage opioid use disorder.  Suboxone is a synthetic drug designed to treat people addicted to oxycodone, heroin, and other opioids. It reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms and prevents long term dependence.

Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This means it only partially binds to the receptors that other opioids do. The effects of buprenorphine are less pronounced than those of heroin and other full opioid agonists. In addition, the effects plateau after a while.

Meanwhile, naloxone completely blocks opioid receptors. When administered on its own via injection or nasal spray, it can reverse the effects of an overdose. When used with buprenorphine, naloxone can help to prevent opioid misuse and abuse.

Suboxone affects the brain’s opioid receptors enough to prevent the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that individuals would otherwise experience. People who use medically prescribed Suboxone don’t experience a high. Instead, they get relief from the symptoms they would experience if they tried to quit strong opioids cold turkey.

More About the Uses Of Suboxone

Suboxone is as effective as methadone when it comes to reducing opioid use. It offers several advantages, including a reduction in adverse outcomes during treatment and a lower risk of fatal overdose. It is also the preferred choice for pregnant women and it is extremely effective in treating dependence on short-acting opioids such as heroin. 

Because the effects level out at a certain point, it’s more difficult for people to abuse suboxone. When used as part of an opioid abuse treatment program, it significantly improves individuals’ outcomes. Since the patient isn’t in physical or psychological discomfort because of withdrawal, they are more likely to focus on their treatment. People who use suboxone are more likely to complete their initial treatment program and remain sober in the long term.

While substance-free recovery is ideal, some people find it almost impossible to maintain their sobriety without help from medication. Still, there is some debate among medical professionals as to whether Suboxone should be administered for extended periods. While shorter durations of use are typically recommended, some people take Suboxone for a long time without any negative consequences. Some doctors equate it to the use of insulin in diabetic treatment. However, some people go on to develop dependence. 

What is Suboxone Dependence?

A person who is dependent on Suboxone may experience withdrawal symptoms if they quit cold turkey. The safest thing to do is to gradually reduce their usage until they reach the point where they can manage their cravings. Therefore, people often continue using Suboxone well after they’ve stopped using other opioids. The challenge is that Suboxone can also be addictive, although it is rare for this to happen. A person who overcomes an addiction to strong opioids and then develops Suboxone addiction will need to taper slowly and may need additional support at a treatment center.

Symptoms of Suboxone Dependence 

Symptoms of Suboxone DependenceThe signs and symptoms of suboxone dependence or addiction are similar to those associated with other opioids. They include:

  • Needing larger and larger doses to feel normal
  • Trying to get prescriptions from multiple doctors at one time
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued
  • Isolating oneself from family and friends 

A person who is dependent on Suboxone may also display:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Confusion or difficulty with thinking
  • Loss of appetite and consequent weight loss
  • Rashes or itchy skin
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Shallow breathing/respiratory depression
  • Rapid heartbeat

What’s the Difference Between Detox Using Suboxone and Detoxing from Suboxone?

The effects of Suboxone may seem contradictory. After all, the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone is intended to treat opioid dependence but some users seem to trade one addiction for another. As we noted earlier, it is rare for Suboxone dependence to occur but it does happen. 

Most addiction experts agree that Suboxone use is the lesser of two evils when compared with heroin and other highly addictive opioids. It gives many individuals a fighting chance at getting sober that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

If you or someone you love has to undergo a Suboxone taper, you probably want to know what the process is like and how long it takes. Let’s address some of those questions.

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

As your body and brain get used to the absence of Suboxone, you’ll experience some withdrawal symptoms. Some will be physical, while others will be emotional or psychological.

Physical Symptoms of Suboxone Withdrawal

The most common physical symptoms include:

  • Tiredness – Your body will have to do a lot of work to rid itself of Suboxone so it’s likely that you’ll feel fatigued.
  • Hot or cold flashes – Some people experience intense feelings of heat or coldness that come on suddenly.
  • Skin discomfort. You may get goosebumps or feel like bugs are crawling on your skin.
  • Sweating, particularly at night. Sweat helps to get the Suboxone out of your body. Also, Suboxone is dehydrating so sweating is common during withdrawal.
  • Cramps and muscle pain across your body
  • Problems sleeping 
  • Appetite loss 
  • Diarrhea

Psychological Symptoms of Suboxone Withdrawal

In addition to the physical effects, you may also notice:

  • Moodiness – Since your brain won’t be getting the rushes of dopamine to which it was accustomed, you may feel irritable. This is especially common in the early stages of stopping Suboxone use.
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts – While in treatment for Suboxone use, your mental health will be monitored closely. If you experience severe depression, be sure to speak up. Some people need medication to relieve their depression.
  • Anxiety –  It will take time to get used to the absence of Suboxone. During this time, you may feel anxious. These feelings are normal and they should go away over time. However, some people are so anxious that they need medication.

Withdrawal can also unearth additional mental health problems. When people stop taking Suboxone after long-term use, they may be confronted by all the feelings they were trying to avoid. That’s why professional therapy and counseling are such an important part of recovery. This will help you to get to the bottom of your addictive behaviors and develop new coping strategies.

How Long Does Suboxone Detox Take? A Typical Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline

How Long Does Suboxone Detox Take? A Typical Suboxone Withdrawal TimelineEach person will have a unique experience. Symptoms can vary in duration and severity based on how long an individual was using Suboxone and how much they were using. However, it typically takes about 30 days to get relief from physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms tend to be at their worst during the first three days after the individual stops using the medication. They then start to go away slowly. 

Insomnia and mood swings are common over the first week or two but they’re usually gone by the third or fourth week. After the second week, depression is the most common side effect and it can continue for more than four weeks. Intense cravings can also run for more than a month. At this point, the risk of relapse is at its highest.

Suboxone Treatment Plan

When you enter a treatment center to help taper from and stop using Suboxone, you’ll go through a series of stages aimed at helping you to safely rid your body of the drug.

1. Check-In and Evaluation

Each person struggling with substance dependence is different. The treatment team needs to understand you and the issues that you’re facing so they can come up with the most suitable treatment plan. Some of the things they will be on the lookout for include co-occurring mental health disorders, physical illnesses, and trauma. Of course, their understanding will deepen as you progress through treatment.

2. Customized Suboxone Detox Plan

The evaluation will help to inform your treatment plan. Your recovery goals, duration of treatment, and personal circumstance will all be taken into consideration.

3. Medical Stabilization

Armed with a plan, the team will support you as you go through the tapering process. Your dosage will be slowly lowered to help you stop using Suboxone with minimal withdrawal symptoms. You’ll also receive psychological assistance to support your recovery.

4. Post Detox Recovery

Once you are off Suboxone, the underlying factors that led to addiction may still be there. Most people benefit from individual and group counseling as well as holistic therapies. Ongoing professional help is necessary if you want to get to the root of your substance use and develop the skills to reach your treatment goals. Support is a crucial part of recovery.

What to Expect in Suboxone Treatment

Treatment sets the stage for long-term recovery. When your body is free of Suboxone, your mind will be ready to learn new skills aimed at maintaining your sobriety. While treatment centers differ, high-quality facilities like Pathfinders offer:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is a part of many substance abuse treatment programs. It helps individuals to understand why they think and behave the way they do. It then assists them in coming up with alternative ways of managing their triggers.
  • Psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, this involves talking about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. The aim is to help you regain control of your life and learn new ways to cope with challenges. This can take place in individual or group sessions.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment. Drug dependence often occurs in concert with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is not clear which develops first but both need to be treated simultaneously.

At Pathfinders Recovery Center, you’ll also benefit from:

  • Ongoing support from our staff
  • Individualized treatment plans
  • An opportunity to see a therapist and begin your behavioral health journey

Who Needs Treatment For Suboxone Use?

Who Needs Suboxone DetoxMany people take Suboxone for a long time without developing problems. Others successfully stop using it after they’ve made some progress with their recovery. However, some people find it difficult to function without this medication even though they’re no longer using heroin, or other powerful opioids.

You should seek professional help if you:

  • Want to stop using opioids of any kind
  • Have started using Suboxone recreationally
  • Abuse your prescription
  • Feel strong cravings for Suboxone
  • Are experiencing unpleasant side effects because of your Suboxone use

Finding a Suboxone Treatment Center Near Me – What to Look Out For

Many people are hesitant to enter a treatment program for Suboxone. However, the extra help and support can be crucial to overcoming your dependence. However, medically supervised detoxification is the best way to overcome drug dependence. Detox centers vary considerably in the types of services they offer and the overall environment they provide. This means you’ll need to do your research and come up with a list of facilities that meet your needs and preferences. 

Rehab centers don’t have to be sterile hospital-like facilities. Some offer many of the comforts of home without the temptations. Whether you favor traditional talk therapy or more holistic approaches that include art and yoga, there’s a center out there for you.

Some of the things you may want to consider are:

  • The location of the treatment center
  • The amount of privacy it affords
  • The amenities the clinic offers
  • The cost and financing options

You’ll also want to read reviews so you can first-hand information about the facility.  If you need help in making a decision, reach out to the team at Pathfinders Recovery Center and we’ll help you to enroll in our facility.       Overcoming Suboxone dependency or addiction can be very difficult but you don’t have to go through the process alone. We’re standing by to help you return to sobriety so contact us today!


  • 7580 E Gray Rd Suite 201 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • (877) 224-0761
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