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Using Suboxone to Detox off Pain Pills or Heroin

Before suboxone, opiate addicts basically had two fairly unappealing choices when they wanted to get their life back, and get off drugs:

  1. They could suffer through a week of agony and cold turkey detox, or
  2. they could substitute to methadone as a replacement opiate, and face months, years or even a lifetime of trips to a methadone clinic to get their needed, but very addictive medication.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is different, and with the arrival of suboxone, there is basically no longer any good reason to use methadone unless you really can’t access any suboxone. Suboxone works like methadone in that it's a non intoxicating opiate replacement to a drug of abuse. After you get the dosage right, you can take suboxone for a very long period, never feel any withdrawal pains and also never get high. People report feeling normal again after taking suboxone, and can once again participate normally in society.

Suboxone has a far lower potential for abuse than methadone, and so it can be prescribed in greater quantities, and patients will not need to travel daily to a clinic to get the medication they need. Unfortunately, those patients that do use suboxone for long period opiate replacement therapy will eventually need to suffer through a painful detox, and although the detox may not be as intense as a detox off of heroin or oxycontin, it can be quite tough and long lasting.

Suboxone for Detox

An alternative to a long period of suboxone replacement therapy is simply to use suboxone briefly in a detoxification protocol off of a drug of abuse. The cold turkey detox off of full opiate agonists like vicodin or heroin can be excruciating, and the fear of the pains of detox is more than enough to keep a lot of people using for far too long. What suboxone can do is lessen the intensity of these pains, making a short detox far more bearable. Still uncomfortable, but nowhere near as tough as it would be un medicated.

Patients go into detox, and as soon as they enter into the beginning of full withdrawal, they are given either suboxone or subutex, which once appropriately dosed takes away all of the immediate and intense withdrawal symptoms of the more severe withdrawal from pain pills or heroin. Patients are stabilized at a dosage of suboxone for a few days, and then the dosage of suboxone is gradually tapered off, most normally down to nothing within a day of the end of a detox period.

Patients will still feel withdrawal pains, and suboxone is an opiate and does therefore have a syndrome of withdrawal, but by transferring onto a longer acting and less intoxicating opiate to transition through withdrawal, the pains of detox become far more manageable.

After about 10 days the worst of withdrawal symptoms from the suboxone will have ended, although some lingering symptoms can endure for a month or more. Following the end of detoxification, most patients transition into a residential treatment phase, learning strategies they'll need to stay clean over the long haul, and avoid another painful period of detoxification.

Using suboxone for a transition detoxification off of opiates of abuse makes the process far more humane, and by ending suboxone therapy within days, you lessen the need for an intense and difficult detox off of the suboxone…truly the best of both worlds.

Detox is never easy, and although suboxone can help a lot, it's still a challenging period; but with suboxone you can make it, and once you've detoxed you're truly ready to participate in the therapies and education of relapse avoidance that will ensure that you'll never get hooked again.

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Page last updated 23/05/2014

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