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Subutex Withdrawal: What to Expect & for How Long

Subutex is a prescription medication that contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid. Like all other medications in the opioid class, quitting Subutex abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

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If you’re using Subutex for opioid use disorder (OUD) and you want to stop using it, talk with your doctor. Together, you can develop a tapering schedule that allows your brain and body to adjust to the lack of the medication. With this approach, you won’t feel sick. 

What Can You Expect With Subutex Withdrawal?

If you work with your treatment team on a taper, you can expect a smooth path to stopping Subutex use. If you quit the drug suddenly on your own, you can expect withdrawal syndrome

Typical symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal include the following:[1]

  • Agitation 
  • Anxiety 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Insomnia 
  • Runny nose 
  • Sweating 
  • Yawning
  • Abdominal cramping 
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Goosebumps 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 

Researchers say withdrawal symptoms associated with Subutex tend to be mild when compared to those linked with hard drugs like heroin or oxycodone.[2] However, symptoms like diarrhea and nausea can lead to dehydration if not treated. You may also be at risk of relapse to opioids to make your discomfort stop. 

How Long Can You Expect Subutex Withdrawal to Last?

Every person is different, and the time you’ll spend in withdrawal can vary. Researchers say that people who quit buprenorphine suddenly often develop withdrawal symptoms within about 48 hours, and they last for 10 days.[3]

A timeline for withdrawal might look like this:

  • Within 48 hours: Symptoms like anxiety, agitation, and watery eyes develop. 
  • Day 3: Symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting appear and intensity. 
  • Day 10: Symptoms stop after a gradual decline. 

Avoiding Subutex Withdrawal With a Detox Plan

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends tapering Subutex doses rather than quitting the drug abruptly.[2] A taper is easier on your body, and it’s typically easier to finish than trying to quit cold turkey. 

A taper involves the following steps:

  1. Assessment: Doctors determine how much Subutex you’re using right now and how you feel on this dose. 
  2. Planning: Doctors determine how to cut your dose while keeping you comfortable. 
  3. Execution: Periodically, your dose gets smaller, based on your doctor’s recommendations and your comfort level. 

If you feel symptoms of withdrawal, your taper might be moving too quickly, and the schedule should be adjusted. If you’re comfortable, the taper might move faster. Close communication with your doctor is critical in this period. Support also helps you to manage the psychological and emotional aspects of weaning off the medication.

In a study of people who used a taper for buprenorphine, schedules that lasted 93 to 95 days were more acceptable than those that moved quickly.[4] Your results might vary. 

Treatment at Boca Recovery Center 

Researchers say that many people who quit buprenorphine products do so involuntarily. They can’t meet the requirements of their treatment programs and are removed from them.[5] If you’re in this camp, consider treatment at Boca Recovery Center. Our inpatient format can keep you from your triggers and help you to maintain sobriety. 

If you’re ready to stop using Subutex, Boca Recovery Center can help too. Our treatment teams can develop a medical detox program just for you and help you quit using buprenorphine products on a schedule that works for you. Our compassionate team will provide you with the support you need to stop using drugs for good. 

Updated March 18, 2024
  1. Opiate and opioid withdrawal. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published April 30, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2024.
  2. Subutex prescribing information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published February 2018. Accessed February 27, 2024.
  3. Tripathi B, Hemaraj P, Dhar N. Buprenorphine withdrawal syndrome. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. Published January 1995. Accessed February 27, 2024.
  4. Graves R, Sarker A, Al-Garadi M, et al. Effective buprenorphine use and tapering strategies: Endorsements and insights by people in recovery from opioid use disorder on a Reddit forum. BioRxIV. Published December 13, 2019. Accessed February 27, 2024.
  5. Zweben J, Sorensen J, Shingle M, et al. Discontinuing methadone and buprenorphine: A review and clinical challenges. Journal of Addiction Medicine. 2021;15(6):454-460.
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