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Suboxone Dependence

Are You Suboxone Dependent?

Suboxone – a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine – is a widely used medication in opioid addiction treatment. However, as a strong opioid itself, the buprenorphine from Suboxone acts directly on the central nervous system (CNS) and can cause physical dependence. Once dependence develops, you are likely to feel a physical need to use it just to be able to function normally.

But, how can you know when you have become dependent on Subs? Try to give an honest answer to these four (4) questions:

  1. Does your Suboxone dose keep increasing?
  2. Is your current Suboxone loosing its potency of effects?
  3. Do you find it difficult to lower or stop use because it hurts to do so?
  4. Do you continue using Suboxone just to prevent withdrawal symptoms?

If you answer with YES to these questions, then it might be best to see your doctor for an assessment of your level of dependence and see whether you can benefit from treatment.


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How is Suboxone dependence treated? What is the difference between addiction and physical dependence? We explore here. At the end, we welcome you to join in on the discussion in the designated comments section. We value your feedback and do our best to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate questions.

What Is Suboxone Dependence…Really?

With regular Suboxone dosing, the body gets used to the presence of the drug. At this point, the human system has to adapt to the depressant effects of Suboxone. Two things happen. First, it counteract the depressant effect by crneeds the drug to function normally. Exactly how fast dependence is formed is a highly individual matter. The period of developing physical dependence is different for every person. Some start to show signs of dependence only a few weeks after they start therapy, while others may take more time to develop dependence.

Q: But, how exactly is dependence formed?
A: Dependence develops as your body becomes adapted to the presence of Suboxone.

More specifically, Suboxone works by binding to opiate receptors which are typically bound by the brain’s natural neurotransmitters. This action interferes with the transmission of signals from the nervous system to the brain. With prolonged Suboxone use, the body slows down the production of neurotransmitters and makes the body dependent on an outside source (taking Suboxone) in order to function normally.

Doesn’t Suboxone Treat Opioid Dependence?

Yes it does!

In fact, Suboxone is a very effective in helping opioid-dependent people, especially when used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy. As a part of medication-assisted therapy, Suboxone treats the symptoms of opioid dependence by maintaining your physical dependence. But, while it blocks the effects of opioids such as heroin, it still leaves a possibility for the development of physical dependency.

So, why use it? The point of Suboxone therapy is not to trade one substance of use for another. As a medication, it is used to give people the opportunity to see what life can be like on the other side of the addictive lifestyle. It gives opioid addicted people the chance to stop harmful substance abuse, heal physically and mentally, start recovery, and build a new, positive life that does not involve drug use. The goal is to eventually come off of Suboxone too, when an individual is ready.

Symptoms Of Suboxone Dependence

The two main indicators of physical dependence on Suboxone are: tolerance and withdrawal.

1. Tolerance = This is a physiological adaptation mechanism. As tolerance increases, your initial doses just don’t have any effect on you anymore. This is why you may start to require higher doses of Suboxone and use the medication more often in order to feel the wanted effects.

2. Withdrawal = Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal manifest several hours after the last missed dose, reaching their peak in 2-5 days of withdrawal. The whole process usually lasts for about 7-10 days, but in some cases may take several weeks to resolve. The most common symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Cold sweats
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Sleeping disturbances
  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes

NOTE HERE: Although withdrawal from Suboxone may be more tolerable than that of full agonists, relapse rates after tapering from Suboxone are very high. This is why continued management of your physical and psychological condition in recovery is crucial for maintaining long-term sobriety.

Does Suboxone Dependence = Addiction?

Suboxone dependence IS NOT the same as Suboxone addiction.

Physical dependence is a state of the body after a period of drug use. As the body develops a new state of homeostasis with Suboxone, any lowering or cessation of doses shakes up this newly established equilibrium. As your body tries to maintain its new balance, it produces withdrawal symptoms. After these symptoms subside, however, a person will not continue to need Suboxone.

Suboxone addiction, on the other hand, is a state of the mind. It is characterized by obsessive drug seeking, compulsive use despite awareness of harmful risks, cravings for Suboxone, loss of control over dosage amounts and frequency of use. The drug seeking behavior and cravings are often present even after Suboxone leaves the body.

How To End Suboxone Dependence

Drug dependence can be hard and uncomfortable to handle. Support is curial in resolving any substance use problem, so first you need to talk openly with your friends and family. Then, seek the help of a licensed specialist such as your family doctor, social worker, psychiatrist, pharmacist, or a psychologist. Here is what the process of ending Suboxone dependence may include:

1. Tapered Suboxone withdrawal

This is the most recommended method of treating dependence to Suboxone. It is a controlled therapy that slowly decreases the daily intake of the medication before totally removing all traces from the body. It is best to follow an individualized tapering plan that your doctor can help create specifically for you.

2. Supervised withdrawal

Detox clinics are specialized in providing round-the-clock care for individuals who are detoxing from opioids including Suboxone. You can end Suboxone dependence in inpatient clinical settings, with the help and support of professional staff of doctors and nurses. The medical detox process usually takes 3-5 days, or as long as it is needed for acute symptoms to resolve.

3. Supportive withdrawal

Sharing your experiences during withdrawal and in early recovery from Suboxone dependence with others in a support group is good way to handle many of the challenges you are facing. These are usually people who have walked in the same shoes and understand what quitting Suboxone and going through withdrawal feels like.

4. Home treatment

Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can be managed at home. But, you first need medical approval and a huge motivation to end Suboxone dependence to be able to make it on your own. Also, you can use over-the-counter medications to lessen some of the withdrawal symptoms as they occur.


Need more info on Suboxone treatment and recovery?
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Got Any Questions?

This is only a short review of Suboxone dependence. If you still have any questions or are looking to find answers about Suboxone abuse OR available Suboxone addiction treatment options, please feel free to post them in the comments section at the end of the page. Or, you can share a personal story to motivate others. We do our best to respond to all legitimate inquiries promptly and personally.

If you think that you or someone close to you is dependent to Suboxone, seeking help during withdrawal may be crucial for successful quitting. While ending dependence is hard, but it’s worth doing it.

Reference Sources: NIH: Medicine Plus: Suboxone
NIH: Daily Med: Suboxodone
FDA: Subutex and Suboxone Questions and Answers
NCBI: The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment
Medline Plus: Opioid withdrawal

Suboxone Dependence

40 How does Suboxone make you feel?

How does Suboxone make you feel?

May 4th, 2014

How you ‘feel’ after taking buprenorphine or Suboxone depends on your tolerance to opioids. But after dosing is optimized people on the medication usually feel normal, as they would feel if they were not on an opioid. More on Suboxone here.

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