Suboxone is often prescribed to help people overcome an addiction to opioid drugs such as heroin and codeine. Since this medication tends to mimic the effects of these types of drugs, you may have started using it to manage withdrawal symptoms during your initial recovery from street drugs or prescription painkillers. While Suboxone may have been your first ray of hope for a full recovery from opioid dependency, you have now discovered that you have traded one addiction for another.
The primary ingredient in Suboxone is buprenorphine, which acts similarly to opioid drugs and can cause your body to develop a physical dependency. You may also form a psychological dependency upon the medication after using it for a long period of time to manage your cravings and symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety. In either case, it is important to avoid suddenly stopping the drug because it places you at risk for a relapse. Fortunately, you can slowly wean off of the medication while learning new ways to manage your cravings so that you can continue to stay drug-free.
Symptoms to Expect During Suboxone Withdrawal
Suboxone withdrawal is very similar to opioid withdrawal, and you may find that trying to stop the medication brings back memories of your first attempts at ending an addiction. In most cases, your withdrawal symptoms will be the same as what you would expect during detox from opioids, and they may include the following reactions.
- changes in your mood such as anxiety, anger or depression
- stomach pain, nausea and/or vomiting
- muscle spasms or tremors
- insomnia or extreme fatigue
While these withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, it helps to remember that they are rarely life-threatening. Enrolling in a professional drug addiction treatment program also puts you in touch with the right people to help you begin to slowly wean off the medication so that you experience fewer side effects.
How to Taper Off of Your Medication Safely
The first thing you should know about weaning off of Suboxone is that the ideal process is different for everyone. The amount of medication that you need to take depends upon factors such as how long you have been using the medication along with your body type and metabolism. For this reason, it is best to undergo a professional assessment that provides you with the proper tapering schedule to fit your needs.
You can taper off of Suboxone in our outpatient treatment program that allows you to continue to manage your normal daily responsibilities such as working and caring for your family. Your tapering schedule will involve gradual dose reductions that slowly help you to stop using the medication. For some people, a dose reduction may occur daily while others may need to decrease their dosage after several days have passed between each change. Try to keep in mind that slow and steady changes help you to stabilize physically and mentally so that you do not experience uncomfortable symptoms that could lead to a relapse.
Creating a New Relapse Prevention Plan
When your goal is to completely wean off of Suboxone, you need to establish a new relapse prevention plan to help you avoid returning back to your old habits of opioid use. In most cases, you should already be using Suboxone in conjunction with strategies such as attending group and individual counseling to address the underlying reasons for your addiction. However, you may have lapsed in your attendance at these sessions, or you may be far enough along in your recovery that you no longer feel that going to daily counseling sessions is necessary. Since weaning off Suboxone represents a major change in your life, it helps to return to the strategies that you used in your earlier treatment plan for opioid addiction. Alternatively, you may want to explore new options such as outpatient therapy that helps you to overcome the new challenges that arise in your life of sobriety.
Don’t worry if you are unsure of how to prevent relapse since our counselors know how to include helpful strategies in your tapering plan that help you manage stress without the use of drugs. For instance, you may need to explore new recreational activities and hobbies that help to burn off excess stress hormones and alleviate boredom. You can also meet new people who are committed to sobriety and willing to talk to you about your cravings and triggers. Getting off of Suboxone represents a new victory in your goals for sobriety. Give us a call today at 770-299-1677 to learn how to wean off of the medication properly while also avoiding a relapse. Our counselors are eager to help you now!