Breaking Away From Suboxone: Harder Than It Looks

Opium or opiate based narcotics are substances that are hard to break away from.  As such,  one cannot just go cold turkey if one decides to quit intakes of opiates, it is just not possible and can be downright dangerous.  Thus longtime opiate users need to go down the moderate path and slowly substitute their dependence with a synthetic one called Suboxone, or its generic name Buprenorphine. The drug is designed to alleviate dependence upon heroin, hydrocodone, OxyContin, morphine, codeine and fentanyl, and other methadone type drugs.

Suboxone can be applied either orally, trans dermally (via the skin using a “film”), through injections and sometimes nasally. It is a long lasting drug and its effects can still be felt several hours after .  It is a drug that should never be administered to children, as accidents involving the drug at home have reported fatal results due to the onset of respiratory suppression.

Two milligrams a day will block a person’s major ability to feel emotions and larger doses will make one practically numb. Dosage prescriptions can be up to eight milligrams and snorting or injecting it can make one “extremely high” by some accounts, especially if one has never used opiates.

In low dosages, it is a mild painkiller. Some physicians do prescribe it for pain management in the short term, with some suffering from Degenerative Disc Disease or DDD or Stenosis pain being prescribed the drug for relief. Many have said that apart from the overall feeling of being high in the first stage, and an “out of it” phase, they say that the relief for pain accorded is better than other traditional painkillers like Vicodin.

Long term use of Suboxone can in general be identified as overall abnormal responses to stress, hair loss, inability to accept and manage one’s own emotions and loss of interest in sex.  Abuse of the drug however can exhibit a wide range of physical symptoms from vomiting, nausea, digestive disorders, sweating, drowsiness, insomnia and more.

As a semi synthetic opiate, it can be abused by long time opiate users who abuse the use of Suboxone as a way to prevent withdrawal symptoms from heroin or other opiates. Some just use it as an alternative to get high.  The rate of abuse for this drug however has increased and buprenorphine related seizures have been highest in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New York and West Virginia.

Deaths have also been reported when Suboxone was mixed with alcohol during drug sessions. Dangerous combinations have also been reported when taken with Xanax, or alprazolam, despite this risk, many users still do it due to a created euphoria akin to class A grade heroin. In all a total of 844 drugs are known to interact with this drug so one must be extra vigilant when prescribed this.  Of these 844 interactions, 261 can be deemed as major and can lead to sever consequences.

When one does decide to quit this drug, expect withdrawal symptoms to last until 10 to 14 days.  For most people they describe the 3rd and 4th days as the worse and getting the full brunt of almost all symptoms.  Symptoms include nausea, stomach pain, appetite loss, dark urine, clay colored stools, yellowing of skin and eyes or jaundice, irregular and pounding heartbeats, and inability to control body temperature, runny nose and eyes.  For most the 5th and 6th day are much better but what seems to hang around from the beginning is the feeling of anxiety and depression.  Most have answered this problem or situation by becoming more physically active, like taking a walk around the block or light but brisk exercise.  Also increased intake of non-processed foods seems to do the trick of overall well-being, and one is suggested to eat more healthy foods.

Suboxone usage statistics vary over time, but this is a drug that is one of the top 30 retail drugs in the United States reaching over 1 billion dollars a year in sales. Since 2012.  In effect, its sales exceed that of Viagra and Adderall.  Other buprenorphines do exist in the market such as Subutex, Zubsolv and Bunavail. Other versions such as Temgesic, Buprenex, Norspan and Butrans are solutions created specifically for chronic pain management.

Abuse of the drug is usually treated via medical detox and must be done at an inpatient facility for the first few weeks or months due to difficulties in detoxifying from Suboxone.  The difficulty lies in the probability of  Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) occurring, which can sometimes last up to six months or even as long as two years.  PAWS is the second stage after the initial 2 weeks of the detox program and is a roller coaster of symptoms that last for a few days, disappear, and come back again. These episodes can be too much physically and psychologically for most and so the easiest thing for them to do is just to relapse in using the drug again.


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