Using Suboxone for Detox: How It Works

There are several effective FDA-approved medications to help treat people with opioid use disorders.1 Buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone are all examples of medications used to treat opioid use disorders. These medications help curb opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings and help with long-term relapse prevention.1 Naloxone is another medication approved by the FDA to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.2

This article will focus on Suboxone as a medication-assisted treatment option for certain substance use disorders. It will explain the side effects, how it helps during the detox process and where to find treatment that uses Suboxone for detox.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication prescribed to treat opioid addiction in adults. It consists of a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.3

  • Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that produces milder euphoric effects and respiratory depression than full opioid agonists like heroin or methadone.4
  • Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means it binds to opioid receptors in the brain and blocks the euphoric effects of opioids.2 Naloxone is also a critical intervention in temporarily treating/reversing an opioid overdose.2

Treatment with a partial-agonist like Suboxone allows for the stabilization of opioid receptors in the brain, which can facilitate the process of making lasting lifestyle and behavioral changes.5 The medication is normally used as part of a comprehensive treatment program that includes counseling and behavioral therapy.3

Buprenorphine, one of the main ingredients in Suboxone, was approved for use in the 1970s as a safer alternative than morphine or heroin in the treatment of pain.5 In 2002, the FDA approved the use of Suboxone sublingual tablets for opioid use disorder.6 It is now prescribed as a sublingual film that dissolves under the tongue or in the cheek.3

Suboxone is recognized as an alternative to methadone, partly because it is less likely to be misused due to it being a partial-opioid agonist as opposed to a full-opioid agonist.5

Despite its efficacy, safety, and ease of use, Suboxone is often underutilized for the treatment of opioid use disorder.5

Side Effects of Suboxone

Suboxone can cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. Common side effects may include:3

  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Constipation.
  • Vomiting.
  • Increased sweating.
  • Pain.
  • Insomnia.

Using Suboxone for Opioid Detox

A medically managed detox is often the first stage of the addiction treatment process. Suboxone may be used during detox to help reduce or eliminate intense cravings and acute withdrawal symptoms in people with opioid use disorders.6

It is worth noting that Suboxone is not an opioid substitute, and it does not induce the “high” opioids do.1

Medication to assist in the treatment of opioid addiction should be managed by a person’s physician or healthcare providers and integrated with the appropriate treatment modality, whether that is inpatient/residential treatment or outpatient services.6

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Instead, treatment should be individualized to meet each person’s specific needs.6 A person’s healthcare team will work with them to determine whether medication-assisted treatment such as Suboxone is right for them.

Which Drugs Does Suboxone Work for?

Suboxone is used to treat people with opioid use disorders.4 Drugs Suboxone can work for during detox include opiates such as:

Does Suboxone Help Detox Symptoms?

Yes, using Suboxone for detox can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms and make a person more comfortable. Detoxing from opioids can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. Withdrawal symptoms can include:7

  • Muscle and bone pain.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Cold flashes.

There is no reason for someone to suffer unnecessarily during this process when medication-assisted treatment is available and proven effective.

How Long Does Detox With Suboxone Take?

The length of time it takes for an opioid detox with Suboxone will vary from person to person. Factors that can affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the detox and withdrawal timelines include the:8

  • Type of opioids used.
  • Amount of opioids used.
  • Interval between doses.
  • Duration of opioid use.

Patients must be in the early stages of opioid withdrawal before starting Suboxone for detox. It typically takes anywhere from 12-24 hours after a person’s last use of opioids before a dose of Suboxone can be given.4,5

Typically, for short-acting opioids like heroin, the onset of withdrawal starts 8–12 hours after a person’s last use and usually subsides within several days.8

For long-acting opioids like methadone, it may take 36–48 hours after a person’s last use to begin feeling withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms usually peak after a few days and subside over 3 weeks or longer.8

How Effective Is Suboxone for Detox?

Using Suboxone for detox is proven to be clinically effective.9 Suboxone has been shown to have similar efficacy to methadone when conditions are alike and dosages are appropriately managed.5

Continued buprenorphine use has been shown to increase retention rates in treatment programs and reduce the risks of:4,5

  • Illicit prescription opioid use.
  • Adverse outcomes.
  • Mortality.

Detoxing with Suboxone can effectively assist in managing cravings and withdrawal so that patients can focus on making healthy lifestyle changes. In addition to medication, another important component of treatment for opioid addiction is counseling and behavioral addiction therapies.10

For many people, a medically managed opioid detox using Suboxone is only the first step in the treatment process. There are multiple levels of addiction treatment available to address each person’s specific needs throughout their recovery.6 Potential treatment options that provide continued recovery support after detox include:

Where Can I Find Suboxone for Detox Treatment?

Suboxone for detox treatment can be prescribed by authorized doctors or other licensed medical professionals.4 Patients must follow the recommended dosage and treatment plans that their healthcare providers establish.11

Incorrect usage may not only be ineffective but combining Suboxone with other medications can have dangerous consequences. For example, taking Suboxone sublingual film with other opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, or other central nervous system depressants can cause respiratory distress, coma, or even death.3

As with other prescription drugs, it is important to avoid buying Suboxone off the street, as it can be difficult to determine if it has been contaminated or mixed with harmful substances. Suboxone should not be shared with others as the results could be serious and may differ from person to person.4

Oxford Treatment Center—a facility that offers both outpatient and inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi—utilizes Suboxone during detox, when appropriate, along with evidence-based therapy.

Call to learn more about the rehab admissions process and rehab payment options. Admissions navigators are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have regarding addiction treatment.

You can also quickly verify your drug and alcohol rehab insurance coverage by filling out the secure . Don’t wait to get help. Find out more about medication-assisted treatment and detoxing with Suboxone today.

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