Suboxone (buprenorphine) creates a physical dependence in the brain. Stopping cold turkey usually leads to withdrawal symptoms. By slowly taking less and less of the medication, patients can come off Suboxone (or Subutex) within weeks or months without unpleasant symptoms.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Suboxone and Subutex are partial opioids, so withdrawal symptoms are similar but milder than withdrawal from opioids like prescription pain medications or heroin.
Physical Symptoms of Suboxone Withdrawal
A tapering schedule reduces or eliminates these symptoms. No reduction in medication should be attempted until all physical withdrawal has subsided from the last dosage reduction.
Mental Symptoms of Suboxone Withdrawal
The most common mental symptoms of withdrawal are anxiety and depression.
That is why it’s so important to keep up with MAT individual and group therapy sessions. Treating all the behaviors and emotions that are unique to you will make a lasting and successful recovery possible. It is also helpful to maintain a healthy diet and a good daily routine or work schedule; exercise can be very beneficial as well.
Suboxone Taper & Relapse
Another side effect of a Suboxone taper is relapse. Suboxone was used to stop opioid receptors in the brain from sending craving signals for opioids. If cravings become intense after tapping from Suboxone, Vivitrol may offer a safety net.
While you may want to move off Suboxone quickly, being so uncomfortable in a taper that relapse occurs is the opposite of the goal.
The Standard Dosing Guide for Suboxone Taper
It is best to work with your doctor to create a tapering schedule that is most effective for your total recovery and based on the Suboxone clinic requirements.
Everyone is different, but in general, a gradual reduction in the total daily dose (e.g., no more than 10% to 20% every one to two weeks) can be successful.
Suboxone Taper Chart
How to Taper Off Suboxone: According to Patients
Medications to Get Off Suboxone
Most patients tapering off Suboxone want to get off addiction-related medications, but withdrawals lead some to look for alternatives.
Suboxone to Sublocade
If the biggest frustration with Suboxone is the daily dosing, transitioning to Sublocade could be a good option. Sublocade is a long-acting injection of buprenorphine that is given only monthly.
Some patients cite side effects improve on Sublocade, and it helps with the daily cycles that can come with daily dosing. Sublocade should be continued for a few months but seems to give minimal withdrawal symptoms when stopped.
Suboxone to Kratom (Don't Do It)
Kratom is often cited by the non-medial community as a “natural” treatment to detox off of opioids or Suboxone.
In reality, kratom activates opiate (mu-opioid) receptors in a similar way as opioids like heroin. It causes similar withdrawal symptoms and cravings as opioid use.
Kratom is more dangerous and addictive than Suboxone and is illegal in many other countries. Using Kratom to counteract Suboxone withdrawals is likely to cause a setback rather than stopping medication use.
Suboxone to Vivitrol
While Vivitrol can’t be used during the Suboxone taper, it can offer a level of security to know there is a non-addictive option to help with cravings after getting off Suboxone.
Vivitrol is given as a monthly shot after fully weaning off Suboxone. The injection contains naltrexone, which is not an opioid.
Vivitrol doesn’t involve withdrawal symptoms when stopped and comes with limited to no side effects. It is a great option to ease the transition of opioids.
Learn more about the transition from Suboxone to Vivitrol.
Suboxone to Methadone
Since methadone is also habit-forming, taken daily and actually requires more in-person visits, a switch from Suboxone to methadone usually defeats the goal of reducing medications or inconvenience. The switch, however, is straightforward.
See also: Switching From Suboxone To Methadone
Need Help Tapering Down from Suboxone?
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