Taking Suboxone for an extended period of time depends on many varying factors.
These factors help your treatment professional (doctor, physician, pharmacist) determine the duration of your time on Suboxone. Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer to the question. Each person presents their own treatment process. Their recovery will be unique to them and their condition. In some cases it may be as little as a few months and in some cases treatment may progress for years.
Because Suboxone acts as an opiate like stimulant itself, recovery can present its own challenges. In some cases, addiction or a physiological dependence on Suboxone may develop. Suboxone is meant to treat people with an opiate addiction. Although used as a form of treatment for withdrawal symptoms and to help replace opioid addiction, Suboxone treatment has, in a few cases, presented challenges in recovery. Due to the tendency of abuse, Suboxone clinics like Freedom Now institute various measures in order to prevent addiction relapse to ensure long-term recovery. Regardless of potential challenges, Suboxone has been proven to be effective in helping people overcome heroin and other opiate abuse.
In this article, we hope to address any questions you may have regarding Suboxone treatment and the length of treatment relative to your needs.
Suboxone combines the drugs Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine is an active ingredient which acts similarly to an opioid (partial agonist). Buprenorphine usually reaches its maximum effect after 3-4 hours after consumption. However, a few factors may cause the drug to respond quicker or slower: weight, metabolism, and drug abuse history may impact the time it takes for the drug to enter the bloodstream. Without continued use, it can take anywhere between 3-5 days for Buprenorphine to exit the body.
Compared to many of its predecessors, the Buprenorphine in Suboxone has a more extended elimination time. When discussing how long a drug remains in your system, there are two terms you should be familiar with: half-life, full-life. Half-life elimination refers to the time it takes for half of a dose of Suboxone to leave the body. Buprenorphine in Suboxone has a half-life of approximately 37 hours. Therefore, the full-life elimination of Buprenorphine in the body can take close to 8 days before it is undetectable in someone’s blood.
However, as with the effect of Suboxone, this length of time can vary depending on various factors. These factors may include:
If Suboxone begins metabolizing in the liver, the active ingredients may still register under a drug test even after the standard 8 days have passed.
A blood test is an invasive test for buprenorphine. If you are receiving a blood test for opioid presence, buprenorphine has a shorter time frame in order to be detected in the blood. Blood tests typically detect buprenorphine a couple hours after the last dose was taken. Saliva tests are non-invasive and can detect Buprenorphine anywhere between a few days to a week after your last dose of Suboxone.
In many cases, urine tests are enforced by your employer. After consuming Suboxone, Buprenorphine will be detectable only 30-40 minutes after consumption. If you have been taking Suboxone for an extended period of time, a urine test can detect Buprenorphine in your system up to 2 weeks after your last dose. Hair follicle testing, although typically unreliable, may detect Buprenorphine up to 3 months after consumption.
Although a rare occasion, it is possible to overdose on Suboxone if you are abusing the medication. If taken against the medical advice of your doctor in order to experience a high, there is the danger of severe side-effects, overdose, and death. However, if the medication is taken as directed, the risks of developing a dependence, overdosing, or experiencing Suboxone withdrawal are less likely to occur. Suboxone should only be consumed by those undergoing addiction treatment for opioids. As with any medication, if abused, Suboxone can lead to an overdose.
Suboxone is prescribed as a long-term drug to be administered during opioid addiction recovery. As a partial agonist, Suboxone can potentially lead to an opioid dependence. Thus, in order to prevent Suboxone withdrawal symptoms after extended treatment, your doctor will most likely recommend a tapering of your dosage.
Short-term use of Suboxone is often used in the detoxing process. In this case, a higher dose may be administered for a short time in order to prevent potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. If this person does not continue to take Suboxone post detox, there is the possibility for a relapse back into opioid abuse. Suboxone treatment typically expands over the course of 6 months to a year. However, if the patient’s opioid dependence is severe, it is common for treatment to extend to over a year and possibly even longer. With the help of a medical professional and an intensive outpatient treatment program, recovery is possible through careful management of medications and tracking progress toward Suboxone cessation.
With that in mind, Suboxone should only be administered by a medical professional. Our rehab clinicians are trained to properly administer and monitor Suboxone use throughout your treatment process. By combining Suboxone with mental-health therapy, addiction therapy, and behavioral and life-skills therapy, our clinicians can help you fight your addiction and prevent withdrawal symptoms (i.e. cravings) in order to prevent a relapse and fight addiction.
A carefully administered and practiced treatment plan can help you gradually taper off of Suboxone in order to prevent dependency and help you live drug free. Below is a common process used in Suboxone tapering.
Treatment plans vary from person to person. Typically, the recommended dosage for Suboxone ranges between 4 mg/1 mg Buprenorphine/Naloxone and 24 mg/6 mg B/N. Dose reduction never exceeds 25% reduction (4mg) per day during the tapering period.
Tapering plans for Suboxone reduction usually follow the direction of your working clinician. Some cases may require a more extended period of time for tapering in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, tapering can occur daily, in other cases it may be over the course of every 2 to 3 days, and in more severe cases there may be a longer period between each reduction. Tapering can take anywhere between a week to several months depending on the decreased dose.
Studies have shown that there is not much difference between a short-term (7 – 10 day) tapering plan and a long-term (28 – 30 day) tapering plan with Suboxone. However, many patients have reported greater satisfaction 3-months post tapering with the longer reduction plan of 28 to 30 days.
Treatment plans that offer a differing combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone have shown that when tapered over the course of 1 – 2 – and 4 weeks, the 4 week tapering program has shown higher rates of success. After extended tapering has been completed, it is more likely for a patient to continue addiction treatment, counseling, sobriety, and continued use of Naloxone to prevent opioid withdrawal and addiction. Naloxone can be taken apart from Suboxone as a medication which blocks opioid receptors, decreases drug-effects, and eases cravings associated with opioid withdrawal.