Does Suboxone help with opiate withdrawal?

Yes. Suboxone can treat opiate addiction by preventing symptoms of withdrawal from heroin and other opiates. More on this type of medication assisted treatment here.

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Suboxone is a form of help with opiate addiction which works by preventing symptoms of withdrawal from heroin and other opiates. In addition, Suboxone is also prescribed during the maintenance phase of treatment after acute opiate withdrawal has resolved.

Here, we investigate the effects of Suboxone during opiate withdrawal and how it can help. Then, we invite your questions in the comments section at the bottom of the page. In fact, we try to respond to all questions personally and promptly.

What is opiate withdrawal?

The opiate class of drugs includes natural derivatives of opium such as heroin, morphine, and codeine…as well as synthetic opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and others. These drugs are inherently highly addictive. In fact, cases of addiction have been reported even after ONE USE. But why does your body go through withdrawal when you stop using these types of drugs?

When you stop or dramatically reduce opiate drugs after heavy and prolonged use (several weeks or more), you will probably feel a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms are known as opiate withdrawal. Withdrawal occurs when your central nervous system adapts to the presence of opiates and becomes dependent on them for “normal” operations. In fact, some systems of the body “speed up” in order to counter the effects of opiate depressants. So when you stop taking opiates, your body needs a period of time to adjust to regular homeostasis, and it’s the “speeded up” systems that bring discomfort.

How can Suboxone help with opiate withdrawal?

Suboxone is a prescription medicine used to treat people who are addicted to (and physically dependent on) opiate or opioid drugs (either prescription or illegal). It’s not a “magic pill”, however, and Suboxone should be used as part of a complete treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy. Suboxone is a controlled substance (CIII) because it contains buprenorphine. At low doses, buprenorphine produces an agonist effect that helps people quit other opiates without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. How?

Suboxone works in the brain by engaging opioid receptors that are usually triggered by opiates. It occupies these part of the nerve cells to suppress withdrawal. In effect, it occupies the same nerve receptors that opiates formerly occupied, “tricking” the brain into delaying withdrawal. However, Suboxone is a medication approved for the treatment of opiate addiction and carries minimal risk of abuse. It also contains an additional ingredient called naloxone to guard against misuse. So even though you won’t be craving stronger opiates, you cannot get high on Suboxone. In this way, Suboxone is used during the maintenance phase of treatment.

Suboxone prescription for opiate withdrawal treatment

Suboxone is less tightly controlled than other opiate addiction medicines such as methadone because its ingredients have a lower potential for abuse and are less dangerous in an overdose. You can get prescriptions for medications containing buprenorphine like Suboxone by seeing a qualified doctor with a DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) identification number. Then you can start in-office treatment and receive prescriptions for ongoing medication.

Q: Where can you find such doctors?

A: The CSAT (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment) maintains a database to help patients locate qualified doctors.

Always take Suboxone exactly as your doctor tells you. Your doctor may change your dose after seeing how it affects you. Do not change your dose unless your doctor tells you to change it. Do not take Suboxone more often than prescribed by your doctor. Further, do not give Suboxone to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them and it is against the law.

Who SHOULDN’T use Suboxone in opiate withdrawal treatment?

Do not take Suboxone if you are allergic to buprenorphine or naloxone. Suboxone may not be right for you. Before taking Suboxone, tell your doctor if you:

  • are breast feeding or plan to breast feed. Suboxone can pass into your milk and may harm your baby. Talk to your doctor about the best way to feed your baby if you take Suboxone. Monitor your baby for increased sleepiness and breathing problems.
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if SUBOXONE will harm your unborn baby. If you take Suboxone while pregnant, your baby may have symptoms of withdrawal at birth. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • have a curve in your spine that affects your breathing
  • have a head injury or brain problem
  • have a history of alcoholism
  • have been diagnosed with Addison’s disease
  • have adrenal gland problems
  • have an enlarged prostate gland (men)
  • have any other medical condition
  • have gallbladder problems
  • have liver or kidney problems
  • have low thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • have mental problems such as hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
  • have problems urinating
  • have trouble breathing or lung problems

Suboxone help with opiate withdrawal questions

We are here to provide any information that you may need regarding opiate withdrawal treatment. If you are trying to stop opiate use or you have a loved one who’s struggling, maybe Suboxone is a medication that can help. We welcome your questions and comments in the section below. And we will try our best to provide answers or refer you to experts that can.

Reference Sources: FDA: Subutex and Suboxone Questions and Answers
FDA: Subutex (buprenorphine hydrochloride) and Suboxone tablets (buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride)
MedlinePlus: Opiate withdrawal
SAMHSA: Buprenorphine Therapy
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hello. I recently relapsed on heroin and stopped taking my suboxone. I have been trying so hard to get back on my suboxone even waiting over 24hrs before trying a small dose of suboxone and i keep getting thrown into severe withdrawl. I just needed some advice on when it is safe for me to take my suboxone without going into precipated withdrawal. I dont want to use heroin anymore and just wsnt to be back on my prescribed suboxone but i am scared to go through that horrible withdrawal again. I would appreciate some help with my question. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tanya. Relapse is a part of recovery. Don’t lose hope! I suggest that you consult with your doctor or a detox clinic about your issues.

  2. Please be aware that Soboxonie is DEADLY when mixed with Xannex. I know this because I lost my son nine months ago, at the tender age of 18, when he bought soboxonie and mixed them with xannex. I fear that people reading this piece will jump with both feet like he did. He’s dead now. There’s room for consultation or kind words. People, this drug KILLS, when mixed with other drugs, so frankly I’m horrified you say nothing about the dangers. Maybe my son read your hype the night he never woke up, but we know that Sobox. was they key maker of his death. Beware!!!

    1. Hi Eddie. I suggest that you consult with an addiction professional about this. Also, call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7. You will speak to a sympathetic, well-trained individual who can help you find a reliable recovery program that will meet your treatment needs.

  3. Suboxone withdrawal is by far the worst withdrawal I’ve ever had in my life. My whole body shut down and I had the most severe panic attacks. I hope I’m the only one with such a story, but at the end of the day there is still a withdrawal from Suboxone that addicts must go thru when they opt for this treatment. Knowledge is power.

  4. I thought it was cool to learn that suboxone has naloxone in it to guard against any potential misuse. A friend of mine recently told me that she wants to go through substance abuse treatment for an opiate addiction she has. I’m sure suboxone would help her since it has a relatively low risk for abuse during her treatment phase.

  5. I quit doing heroin and decided to take suboxones to help with the withdraws. Will I become addicted to the suboxone after taking it for 3 days? Meaning feel withdrawas from the suboxone.

  6. First, Nancy I feel you. Let’s hope this President keeps his word which I believe he will. As for this website, I have a blood disorder that causes a lot of pain & discomfort. Along with the disorder it is so rare that many many pain realieving drugs aren’t safe. If I’ve been on methadone for the discomfort for years and my doctor says Suboxone is a safe drug with re: to this disorder (which they do) how long does it take for the methadone to really leave my body? Not just the detection as I’m under Dr care but to leave my system in re: to being inside of my bones,brain & etc?

    1. Hi Jason. It depends from the body, dosage, level of tolerance, etc. Experts claim that slowly lowering the dose in the safest way to quit opioid. First, I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Moreover, download our free e-book
      How To Quit Opioid Painkillers to learn more about the whole process. Finally, you may call the helpline you see on the website to discuss your treatment options.

  7. Ive been using heroin for a month straight, i have suboxone8mg/2mg can i break it into 4 and will it help me with my withdrawal from heroin

    1. Hi Secret. Every drug affects each individual differently. Suboxone may help you, but keep in mind that heroin withdrawal may last from several days up to several weeks. I suggest that you call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7.

  8. I have unfortunately been using heroin for about a week. Not a lot but some every day. Not injecting but putting it up my nose. I don’t want to do it anymore. I have one 8mg suboxone pill. If I break it into 4 pieces will it help with the withdrawal symptoms?

  9. hi ive been on methadone for past 4 years and im thinking about doing the swich to suboxone,my aim is to get clean i was on 70ml ive now dropped to 35ml i attened ca meetings every day, n ive got other support systems in place. ive heard so many people say to me dont go on suboxone your just swapping one addiction for another , but ive also had people tell me its ok for the short time i want it for! my q is does suboxone dull the withdrawels off the methadone? and will i still get same withdrawels coming off the suboxone in end? because if its gony b bad withdrawels anyhow ill just stick with lowerin my methadone! ill b really greatfull for sum advise plz thankyou 🙂

    1. Hi Michelle. Yes, suboxone will relieve most of the withdrawal symptoms of methadone. You may need some extra over-the-counter meds to deal with some minor symptoms. As for the end, you can expect to get withdrawal symptoms from suboxone when you’ll be coming off of it later. But, they can be managed by slowly reducing the dosage over a period of time, and of course doctors can prescribe short-term medications or suggest OTCs again.

  10. I have been prescribed opiates for at least 3 years. I have been in withdrawal for 19dys with no help. I have attempted to make an appointment with Dr licensed to prescribe suboxone and to date I have been hitting a brick wall!!! I was advised by one Dr to go back on opiates until I can be seen by Dr to prescribe suboxone. Why is it so impossible to get the help I am begging for ? I couldn’t even get into a detox place because of my insurance. You hear over and over today about the opiate epidemic and help available to everyone. This is just not true !!!!!!!

  11. Can a low dose of buprenorphine be used for withdrawl from a lower opiod dependence of 40mg of hydrocodone for a short perper instead of tapering. Without experiencing the hydrocodone withdrawals? I read that this medication is usually used for much higher doses of opioids.

  12. Medication assisted treatment that is part of a plan to treat an opioid addiction can be a successful way to help a person through withdrawal and into recovery. A good treatment center will have individualized care for each patient.

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