It is not a dangerous process, and there are no recorded deaths as a result of Suboxone withdrawal. If you are taking Suboxone and wish to stop, talk to the prescribing doctor about the best way to taper use.
Symptoms of Suboxone Withdrawal
Suboxone is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone. Withdrawal from this medication is often misunderstood, with some medical experts overestimating the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Because buprenorphine is in a class of medications called partial opioid agonist-antagonists, withdrawal from Suboxone shares some similarities to opioid withdrawal. However, the effects are milder since Suboxone is not a full opioid.
A person may experience some degree of flu-like symptoms, such as those associated with opioid withdrawal, when withdrawing from Suboxone. It has been described by people undergoing it as feeling like a cold.
Again, Suboxone’s withdrawal symptoms do not reach the severity level that true opioid withdrawal does. In fact, multiple studies have criticized prolonged Suboxone tapering regimes as they can unnecessarily extend a person’s drug use and withdrawal symptoms when they otherwise could go through a mildly uncomfortable withdrawal period of one or two days.
Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline
With the typical buprenorphine and naloxone dosing of about 12/3 mg to 30/7.5 mg daily, withdrawal is mild. While withdrawal does occur after prolonged use, it typically only lasts one or two days, and it is rarely described by patients as severe.
Here is a timeline of what to expect with Suboxone withdrawal:
|Time Period||Likely Symptoms|
|Initial cessation||Minimal, if any|
|Between 1 and 2 days after cessation||Mild to moderate cold-like symptoms|
|3 days or more after cessation||Withdrawal period over, no symptoms|
Can You Die From Suboxone Withdrawal?
There are no recorded cases of an individual dying as a result of symptoms related to Suboxone withdrawal. There are also not any recorded deaths as a result of withdrawal from similar treatment medications.
Withdrawal symptoms from Suboxone are generally mild and do not lead to any life-threatening situations. Medical supervision throughout the withdrawal process is still recommended since medical professionals can help to ease any discomfort that is felt during withdrawal from Suboxone.
Suboxone is a fairly good option for the treatment of opioid addiction for this reason. It can replace a person’s use of much harsher drugs, and the cessation of Suboxone, once appropriate, is much easier than the cessation of other opioids.
If you’re worried about Suboxone withdrawal, talk to your doctor about what to expect. It is reasonable to be anxious about withdrawal symptoms, especially if you haven’t undergone Suboxone withdrawal before, but it isn’t generally a particularly hard process.
A person stopping Suboxone is unlikely to need any kind of targeted withdrawal treatment. In fact, a more significant issue in the medical community is doctors thinking a patient needs some kind of extended tapering to reduce their withdrawal symptoms when the data doesn’t seem to support this.
If you’re going to be undergoing Suboxone withdrawal, plan for two days of mild discomfort. If possible, take off work. Stay hydrated, and try to avoid any physically strenuous activities.
While a person going through Suboxone withdrawal may exhibit cold-like symptoms, they don’t actually have a cold and there is no contagion risk, assuming the individual is otherwise healthy and has no contagious diseases.
Importance of Aftercare for Suboxone Withdrawal
Suboxone is used as part of opioid addiction treatment. While it can be helpful on its own for getting through opioid withdrawal, which many consider one of the most difficult parts of overcoming addiction, it is recommended that a person receive comprehensive therapy and aftercare.
Addiction counseling, where a person speaks to a qualified expert who can teach them skills to resist and control the factors that draw a person to abuse drugs, is an essential part of addiction recovery. This is because getting through opioid withdrawal, while a critical step in the recovery process, doesn’t necessarily change the factors that led a person to abuse drugs in the first place.
- Buprenorphine Sublingual and Buccal (Opioid Dependence). (January 2022). MedlinePlus.
- Buprenorphine Tapering Schedule and Illicit Opioid Use. (February 2009). Addiction.
- Course and Treatment of Buprenorphine/Naloxone Withdrawal: An Analysis of Case Reports. (July 2012). The American Journal on Addictions.
- Principles of Effective Treatment. National Institute on Drug Abuse.