Using Suboxone to DetoxRecovering from a severe addiction like opioids or painkillers is no easy task. Withdrawal poses a serious risk to a person's wellbeing, both mentally and physically. However, it's becoming much easier to handle with the use of different programs and aids. At the Virginia Center for Addiction Medicine, one of our preferred methods is through medication assisted treatment (MAT), specifically using Suboxone. With this medication and a support-based program, the long road to recovery can become a little bit easier to navigate.
Here, we use Suboxone to provide a stable mental and physical state, so patients can focus on the behavioral part of the recovery process. Often, the pain and suffering that comes with withdrawals and detoxing is the reason that people relapse. Our medication-assisted treatment is specially designed to provide long-lasting support and results by eliminating painful symptoms. With Suboxone, we can treat a range of addictions from heroin and painkillers to kratom. Our MAT detox programs are designed to support you as you focus on bettering your mental state and continuing the path to full recovery.
What Is Suboxone?Suboxone is a brand name medication used in opioid addiction recovery programs. The real star of the show in terms of benefits is the active ingredient, buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine acts as an agonist or antagonist against opioids, depending on the situation. It acts to relieve the painful symptoms that accompany severe withdrawal.
Suboxone also blends buprenorphine with another active ingredient, naloxone. This combination of ingredients has been shown to be effective in the fight for pain management. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist to buprenorphine's agonist structure. It's this ingredient that actively fights against the opioid effects, while the other "mimics" opioids to allow the body to function without pain.
When used in moderation, such as in our MAT, along with behavioral therapy and careful monitoring, Suboxone can help people conquer withdrawal a little bit easier.
How Does Suboxone Help Someone Detox?As noted, buprenorphine is the main active ingredient in Suboxone. It acts as a painkiller and antagonist/agonist for opioids. This active ingredient binds to receptors, so your body believes it's getting what it craves. The other ingredient, naloxone, actively fights against the opioids and the effects. It eases the body away from the painful aspects of withdrawal symptoms with a far lower risk of complications.
In easing the withdrawal symptoms, someone in recovery can instead focus on the behavioral therapy and true recovery parts of their journey. They can do so without being held back by intense pain or instability.
Suboxone also reduces the risk of potential harm, disease, and overdose. Dosage is carefully monitored in our MAT programs. We help find the right balance of relief without the risk of dependence or long-term use. It is meant to be a tool on the road to recovering, not a cure-all for addiction. Suboxone itself is just one step of the path, but it makes the journey easier.
Studies have shown that people in recovery using Suboxone in a medication assisted treatment program are far more likely to make it through the detox process. These same studies found that pain management was significantly easier with the opioid replacement rather than trying to quit entirely.
Detox from HeroinHeroin is produced from the poppy flower, which is the source from which opiates come. It's a highly addictive, harmful substance with painful and severe withdrawal, but Suboxone can help.
Heroin is one of the most widely abused illegal drugs in the United States, driving people to ruin. It presents a huge risk for overdose as well. Most user’s method of taking heroin - injection - makes it very easy to abuse. Many addicted people use a needle multiple times to inject heroin, or they use someone else's needle. This presents another problem of staying clean and disease-free from used needles and can often lead to the spread of Hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.
Though heroin is potent and dangerous, Suboxone can still help in the detox process. Suboxone mimics some of the effects of heroin, in that it binds to the same receptors to which heroin would bind. It can somewhat mimic the euphoria of heroin but to a lesser extent. In doing this, it decreases the intense pain that usually comes with withdrawal symptoms. Since the body is not completely without substance, the medication "tricks" the body into thinking it is not withdrawing.
With the help of our reformative MAT programs, recovering from a heroin addiction can become a little bit easier. After the behavioral therapy runs its course and the body has been weaned off of opioids, formerly addicted users can return to stable lives.
Detox from OpioidsAnyone who has been affected in some way by opioid addiction - whether they were addicted or a loved one - can tell you that the hardest part of recovery is not the actual drug. Instead, it's the emotional and mental pain that accompanies withdrawal and leads to relapse. Mitigating those symptoms is the purpose of Suboxone and our treatments in using it.
As we said, buprenorphine acts as a much less dangerous substitute for the effects of opioids. It is even powerful enough to displace existing opioids from the receptors to which they bind. Having a substitute bind to those receptors tricks the body to a degree. It all but eliminates the emotional and physical pain of withdrawal.
Naloxone in the medication acts to combat the negative effects of opioids, which can irritate withdrawal symptoms. Without those roadblocks in your way, focusing on behavioral rehabilitation is much easier. In both the short and long-term, the medication makes recovery more permanent and attainable.
Detox from Prescription Painkiller AddictionOpioid and heroin addiction receive a lot more press. However, addiction to prescribed painkillers is just as common. The withdrawal and detox are also just as difficult and painful. Treating this addiction, in particular, can be even harder when the lack of painkillers means the return of pain.
Substituting Suboxone provides the same benefit that it does in opioid treatments. Painkillers are often opiate-based in some way. They bind to similar receptors as heroin and the like do.
The medication will be administered under close supervision from experienced doctors. This allows for people to begin their recovery process without the extra pain and suffering. Suboxone is designed specifically for those recovering from these types of addictions. As such, it presents less risk than other medications.
Detox from KratomKratom addiction is a much more recent development in the United States. Kratom is an unregulated supplement from a tree typically found in southeast Asia. Some herbalists say that it can be used to treat pain, depression, or anxiety. Others say it can have mild psychotropic effects. The DEA says that it presents a high risk of substance addiction and abuse.
The fact is that kratom has many of the same effects as opioids. As such, it is a risk for addiction. Just like with painkillers or heroin, the body can become dependent on the "relief" or the euphoria that kratom can bring. Eventually, you build a tolerance and need more and more of it to have any effect. That's where the addiction starts.
Kratom is not itself an illegal drug. However, it can have the same effects as other drugs that are illegal. Treating kratom addiction is much like treating opioid addiction. Using Suboxone, under the guidance of our medical professionals, we can help you through weaning off of kratom. We'll assist you in finding your way back to an addiction-free life.
How Long Is the Detox Process?The answer to this depends on how severe your addiction is, how long it has been going on, and the type of addiction you have. Certain opioids and painkillers will have different effects and, therefore, different recovery periods. The good news is that, Suboxone can be used as a temporary solution to detox. With our MAT and therapy, we aim to help you drop your addiction and only use Suboxone to manage the disastrous effects of withdrawal.
Though it varies case by case, we aim to step people down with Suboxones over a 7-10 day period. From there, your doctor helps determine how your detox is progressing and how long you may need to use the medication. Eventually, the goal is to taper off use until you no longer need it at all. Our suboxone detox treatments timelines range vary based on:
- The type of drug
- How long you have been taking it
- Other physical factors about you
We have built a strong recovery program designed to help you battle through detox. We are there to help you stick to your newfound, sober life once treatment is through. Our ultimate goal is healing and recovery. We don't push and we don't delay. We work with you, using the stability that Suboxone can provide in the process.
There is something to be said, though, about knowing when to stop. Studies have shown that dragging out suboxone use after apparent recovery serves no benefit. Even though it safe to use for many years, our detox treatment is designed to help you recover fully, eventually no longer needing buprenorphine to help.
Are There Any Side Effects?Suboxone is a medication, so even though it poses a lesser risk than what it treats, there are still some potential side effects.
The most common side effect is a result of taking a bit too much Suboxone. This can leave the patient feeling lethargic or constipated. Many people complain about the unpleasant taste of it as well. This is more of an unfortunate downside rather than a side effect.
If taken improperly, like too soon after the use of a true opioid or addictive substance, Suboxone can cause precipitated withdrawal. This is similar to the earlier onset of withdrawal symptoms. However, this effect is rare. The risk of it is also why we carefully monitor our patients' Suboxone intake including when they take it. There is a period of abstinence needed between the last time someone took the substance they are addicted to and the first dose of buprenorphine.
Other common but not severe side effects include headaches and nausea. These are both common in the recovery process as it is. Sometimes patients may feel lightheaded or warm and develop a flush. Our medical professionals closely track patients' reactions to doses of Suboxone. We work hard to minimize any possible added discomfort. Our certified physicians are doctors above all else. They help patients through any uncomfortable side effects. Healing and support is our goal.
By and large, though, most patients see very few side effects of using the medicine. There may be some initial discomfort because your body should be experiencing withdrawals from the substance on which you've been dependent. However, the drug is actively fighting against those symptoms. You may still feel pain, but it will be more tolerable and manageable. Even with the side effects, you will feel more stable, both physically and emotionally.
Are There Any Dangers of Using Suboxone to Detox?People commonly worry that substituting something that mimics opioids could develop into an addiction itself. The risk of this is very low with Suboxone. Though it does provide the body with similar effects of opioids or heroin, it is much more easily managed. It also can be readily tapered off once the patient is ready, unlike with other addictive substances.
The three main factors of addiction are:
- A fast onset
- The duration of the high
- The level of "reward" that it offers the body
Opiates like heroin have a quick onset, a long-lasting high (initially), and a "euphoric" reward. Buprenorphine, the main component of Suboxone, is a slow onset. It also only has a mild effect, enough to prevent aggressive withdrawal pains. It is long-lasting, so it is not completely risk-free. However, using Suboxone as withdrawal management prevents patients from developing a dependence on buprenorphine.
It is also important to note that, like weaning off any medication, it must be tapered off instead of quitting all at once. Slowly cutting off your use of Suboxone is the best way to prevent unwanted effects. We help you determine a goal to decrease and stop your use of Suboxone, thus completing your MAT supported detox.
A common misconception about the use of Suboxone is that it is bad for your teeth. This is simply not true. Even the strips that are often used to administer the medication are not harmful to your teeth. We know the risks of using it in treatment, and rotting teeth is not one of them.
At the end of the day, buprenorphine is a medication. Like any medicine, it must be carefully dosed and monitored by medical professionals. Our medication assisted treatment protocols are set up to allow you to live your life without being held back by recovery and withdrawals. We create a personalized plan for each patient, including a dosing and tapering schedule. We do everything we can to get rid of any major risk associated with using medicine to treat an addiction.
Contact UsEven after detox, relapses are all too common. The use of buprenorphine, aka Suboxone, in the fight against addiction and relapse is a big part of why our MAT programs are so successful. Our certified and ASAM trained physicians and staff work hard to keep your path to recovery heading in the right direction. The behavioral treatments and comprehensive programming help make quitting easier. They make long-lasting recovery a reachable goal.
Our ultimate goal for our patients is a pain-free and addiction-free life. With our successful detox program using Suboxone, that is now a reality. Recovery goes beyond quitting the usage of a substance. It requires support, patience, and care. Our physicians are highly trained, professional, and above all else, caring. They know the road is not easy. They are there to help you realize that the journey does not have to be full of pain and confusion.
To learn more about the program, the medicine, or to enroll or speak to an expert, get in contact with us today at 804.332.5950. Addiction is not something you have to handle alone. Help is only one phone call away.
References A clinical trial of buprenorphine and dosage tapering for treating opioid addiction and chronic pain: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931595/
 How Buprenorphine Works: http://naabt.org/collateral/How_Bupe_Works.pdf
 Buprenorphine-Naloxone Therapy in Pain Management: https://anesthesiology.pubs.asahq.org/article.aspx?articleid=1917779
 DrugFacts: Kratom: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/kratom
 Buprenorphine tapering schedule and illicit opioid use: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150159/
 Is buprenorphine addictive?: https://www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=33