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The three stages of treatment with Suboxone are:

The Induction Phase

This is the introductory stage. Before you take Suboxone for the first time, you must have no opiates in your system and be in a state of moderate opiate withdrawal. If you do not wait until in opiate withdrawal before taking suboxone, you risk precipitated withdrawal (sudden extreme withdrawal).1

The length of time you must wait after last using opiate drugs before beginning treatment with Suboxone depends on the half life of the drug you have been using. Drugs like heroin or OxyContin have a short half life and so exit the body within hours. It is recommended that people using short acting opiates wait between 12 and 24 hours following last use before initiating treatment with Suboxone. Other drugs, such as methadone, have a very long half-life, and so if you have been using a long acting opiate you must wait longer before initiating Suboxone treatment.

Once in a state of withdrawal you will take your first dosage of Suboxone or Subutex under observation in a doctor’s office. If you have no adverse reactions and respond well to the treatment, your dosage will be adjusted until you have no further opiate withdrawal symptoms or drug cravings.

The induction phase will take about a week, on average. The goal of the induction phase is to find a Suboxone dosage that provides best relief from withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.

The Stabilization Phase

Once you no longer feel any opiate withdrawal symptoms due to your use of Suboxone, and you are no longer abusing opiates, you are considered to have entered into the stabilization phase. The stabilization phase lasts until you start feeling very stable and strong on Suboxone and very able to resist the abuse of opiates.

The stabilization phase lasts between 1 and 2 months, on average.

The Maintenance Phase

Patients that are doing very well on a steady dose of Suboxone are considered to have entered into the maintenance phase of treatment. There is no set duration for this stage of treatment, and some people may choose to stay in the maintenance stage with Suboxone indefinitely.2

Ending Treatment

People will end treatment with Suboxone by tapering down their dosage until they reach complete cessation of use. Suboxone tapering begins either at the end of the stabilization phase or the end of the maintenance phase.

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Page last updated 20/11/2015

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