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Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms & Detox Treatment

Last Updated: November 6, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Suboxone can be a highly effective treatment for opioid use disorder, but it also has risks for physical dependence and misuse. 

Suboxone, the brand name for the combination drug of buprenorphine and naloxone, is often prescribed for opioid addiction. However, people can misuse it. And because Suboxone can cause physical dependence, you may get withdrawal symptoms when suddenly stopping. 

What Is Suboxone? 

Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is a combination of two medications, buprenorphine and naloxone, used to treat opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine acts on the opioid receptors as a “partial agonist.” This means that it can produce effects similar to other opioids, but it has a “ceiling effect,” at which higher doses won’t have a bigger effect. Because of this, it can have a lower risk of overdose compared to typical opioids. 

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. It blocks the opioid receptors. When taking Suboxone as prescribed, naloxone isn’t absorbed and has no effect. If taken through injection or snorting, naloxone will produce strong opioid withdrawal symptoms to prevent the misuse of Suboxone. However, it still has misuse potential when taken as prescribed and is considered a Schedule III controlled substance. 

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Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms 

Because buprenorphine acts similarly to other opioids, physical dependence can develop. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can happen when you stop Suboxone suddenly. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include

  • Yawning
  • Gooseflesh
  • Dilated (enlarged) pupils
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Runny nose and/or eyes 
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Overactive reflexes (hyperreflexia)
  • Fast breathing and heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature 

Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline 

The timeline of opioid withdrawal symptoms depends on how long the opioid’s half-life is—or how long it takes your body to clear about one-half of a substance. Buprenorphine is one of the longest-acting opioids with a half-life of up to 42 hours. Therefore, withdrawal from Suboxone can last longer than other opioids, sometimes up to a month. 

Suboxone withdrawal typically follows a similar timeline: 

  • 24 hours after the last dose: Physical symptoms (such as chills, body aches and upset stomach) start. 
  • 72 hours: Physical withdrawal symptoms peak and are at their worst. 
  • 1 week: Other symptoms can develop, including muscle aches, trouble sleeping and mood swings. 
  • 2 weeks: Feelings of depression may begin to appear.
  • 1 month: Psychological symptoms may linger, including depression and drug cravings. 

Can You Quit Suboxone Cold Turkey? 

Quitting Suboxone all at once can be dangerous. Physical symptoms can be tough on the body, and there are medications to help keep you comfortable. When withdrawal symptoms aren’t managed, this can lead to relapse to opioid use. Additionally, it is important to be engaged in treatment both during and after withdrawal. Without treatment, relapse rates can be as high as 90% after quitting opioids (including Suboxone). 

One important thing to remember is after quitting or detoxing off Suboxone (or other opioids), your opioid tolerance is reduced. It will take less of the drug to get the same effect and less of the drug to overdose. It is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist about having naloxone or Narcan available, which can be lifesaving in the event of an overdose. 

Get Treatment for Suboxone Misuse in the Northeastern U.S.

If you or a loved one is battling Suboxone misuse, The Recovery Village Kansas City can help. Our team includes experienced physicians and counselors who specialize in substance use disorder treatment. Our patient-centered approach focuses on personal treatment plans that address the root cause of one’s substance use and provides tools to be successful long term. 

Our facility includes opportunities for various indoor and outdoor recreational and art activities to explore new hobbies and connect with peers. In addition, we offer programming targeted toward addressing people with both a mental health and a substance use disorder (dual diagnosis).

Speak with a Recovery Advocate today for information on our variety of programs that can assist you on your recovery journey. These include residential rehab, partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programming.

Sources

Drugs.com. “Suboxone: Package Insert.” Updated March 24, 2023. Accessed September 24, 2023. 

Shulman, Matisyahu; Wai, Jonathan M.; & Nunes, Edward V. “Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: An Overview.” CNS Drugs, June 2019. Accessed September 24, 2023. 

Shah, Mansi & Muecker, Martin R. “Opioid Withdrawal.” StatPearls Publishing, July 2023. Accessed September 24, 2023. 

Kosten, Thomas R & Baxter, Louis E. “Review article: Effective management of opioid withdrawal symptoms: A gateway to opioid dependence management.” The American Journal on Addictions, March 2019. Accessed September 24, 2023. 

Hallare Jericho & Gerriets Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls Publishing, June 2023. Accessed September 24, 2023.

Drugs.com. “How long does Suboxone withdrawal last?” Updated March 28, 2023. Accessed September 24, 2023. 

Dydyk, Alexander M.; Jain, Nitesh K.; & Gupta, Mohit. “Opioid Use Disorder.” StatPearls Publishing, July 2023. Accessed September 24, 2023.