What is buprenorphine withdrawal?

Buprenorphine withdrawal feels like severe flu symptoms, combined with mood disorder(s). Find out more about buprenorphine withdrawal here.

minute read

What is buprenorphine withdrawal syndrome?

Buprenorphine withdrawal syndrome occurs when your body becomes dependent on the use of buprenorphine to function normally. Buprenorphine stays in your system for quite a while, but when stop taking buprenorphine suddenly, levels drop and you are left to withdraw.  This is characterized by a series of typical symptoms which occur when you stop taking or drastically reduce doses of buprenorphine after the half life of buprenorphine wears off. It is always important to consult a doctor when withdrawing from buprenorphine in order to assess your personal needs during withdrawal and to make sure you are withdrawing safely from the drug.

Ironically, buprenorphine is typically prescribed to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal from stronger opiates or opioids. However, taking buprenorphine for opioid addiction can be addictive itself because it is a partial opioid-agonist. This means that buprenorphine binds to the same receptors and can produce the same euphoric and respiratory depressing affects as other opioids. Though the symptoms are not as effective as using other opioids, it is still possible to achieve the desired affects with buprenorphine use.

What is withdrawal from buprenorphine like?

The symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal are similar to those of other opioids, although they are typically milder. Withdrawal from buprenorphine is like a severe flu combined with mood disorders. When withdrawing from buprenorphine, symptoms that may occur include nausea, headaches, changes in sleeping habits, changes in appetite, mood swings, cold sweats, flu-like symptoms and body aches. These symptoms can vary depending on the severity of dependence and the length of use for each person. Some people may face severe withdrawal symptoms, which can peak 2-5 days after the last dose, while others may only see mild withdrawal symptoms.

What does buprenorphine withdrawal feel like?

Buprenorphine withdrawal feels like being sick with a mild flu, but can also make you feel in a very bad mood. Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as you take your last dose. You will begin to feel mild symptoms at first, and symptoms typically peak in severity after 2 – 5 days of withdrawal. Depending on the severity of physical dependence, buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of weeks, to months following your final dosage. The symptoms that tend to last the longest are the psychological symptoms of dependence on buprenorphine. Seeking treatment for cravings using psychotherapy or intense behavioral therapy can reduce the need to use buprenorphine over time. Untreated, psychological symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal can last for a long period of time, even after other symptoms have subsided.

Ready for help?
Call us today. You don’t need to face addiction on your own.

What helps buprenorphine withdrawal?

Detox – Detoxification is the process by which you remove buprenorphine and other drug toxins from your system, before seeking other forms of treatment. Naloxone can help during detox, which counters the euphoric effects of buprenorphine as a partial opioid-agonist. While detox treats buprenorphine dependence, it is only the start of the process of a full treatment for someone addicted to buprenorphine. Detox comes in three important stages: evaluation, stabiization and fostering patient readiness for and entry into treatment. Without all three of these components being employed, chances of staying off buprenorphine are minimized.

Home Remedies – Home remedies for buprenorphine withdrawal focus on addressing and supporting withdrawal symptoms as they occur. For body aches and other pain, use mild pain relievers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. You can also take warm baths and use heating pads when you experience physical pain. In order to deal with psychological withdrawal symptoms it is important to seek help from a sober friend or family member, or to attend support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery.

Medications – Because buprenorphine is the drug used to ease withdrawal and detoxification symptoms, it may be required that quit it altogether without pharmaceutical aid. However, Suboxone may be prescribed during buprenorphine withdrawal because the active ingredient, buprenorphine, is countered by naloxone, which counters the effects of the opioid-agonist.

Questions about buprenorphine withdrawal

Are you seeking help for buprenorphine withdrawal and have questions about treatment or withdrawal? Have you experienced buprenorphine withdrawal and have advice or experience to share? Leave a comment below with yourquestions, comments or concerns and we will respond personally and promptly.

Don’t let your loved one suffer.
Addiction responds to treatment. Call us to get started.
SAMHSA: About buprehorphine therapy
SAMHSA: The Facts about buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction
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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. I have been on Suboxone for 10 years; in the past year I’ve used the 8/2mg film three times daily. I’ve stopped cold turkey (it’s been 9 days) and I think I’m through the worst of the physical horrors. However, the debilitating headache is 24/7, no matter how much analgesia I consume. Also, I can’t sleep because I wake frequently with air-hunger, and it feels like I can’t breathe. It’s horrible, and I’m exhausted. I don’t feel acute anxiety, and I’m scared of this feeling of breathlessness all through the night. I am a smoker and have been trying to quit, but I find it interesting that I’ve never had this SOB until I quit the Suboxone. I have no respiratory symptoms of illness. Can this occur with abrupt withdrawal? If I see my doctor, he will put me back on a small dose of Suboxone and will taper. It seems to me that will just kick me back into withdrawal. After everything I’ve been through I don’t want any setbacks, but this shortness of breath is scaring me. Do others have this experience? (The SOB?)

  2. Lydia, my GP doctor knows bugger all about coming off Butrenorphine patches. He knows how to prescribe and that’s all.
    Otherwise he googles info and plays with morphine to taper off but morphine is totally different to the effects of Butrenorphine patches in the UK.

    1. Hi Allan. If you don’t trust your doctor find another one. Moreover, there are equivalent doses of morphine that may have the same effect as buprenorphine. Take a look into these souses:

  3. My wife and I have been on 16/4 mg. A day for 2 1/2 yrs our doctor has brought us down to 1 1/2 strips a day so last week she goes to her doctor and he cuts her off because she supposed to over medicated with the 45 strips cuz her urine was clean but he could make her an appointment for a week later and charge her the initial start fee and start her over but he couldn’t write her nothing to taper off with he just cut her off cold turkey and I still had medicine so naturally I shared em all 50/50 with my wife any Man would problem is we’re both now without and I can’t even get up to go to work and we have 4 kids what can we do we’re in Columbia Ms

  4. Can you cover part of a patch with plastic tape to cut down the ingression of bupresnorphine ( 10 mg patch). Say 10% covered each week

  5. I have been on subutex for years starting at 16 mg due to addiction. I have weaned myself down to 4 mg a day. I do not have insurance and no help, not I have become addicted to the subutex, I need a no bs answer to as how long it will take me to detox of this Med, I wish I had never started it. I’ve been on it for 3 years for the most part unless I had relapsed, need some desperate help and the government agencies that do detox keep you for four days starting at 8 mg first day 6 the second and 4 mg the following 2 days which is not nearly long enough and a recipe for relapse

  6. I have been on a script of subtext for a couple of months for heroin abuse I was on 4 mills a day slopping doses and smoking heroin instead. 2 weeks ago I stop heroin and took 10 mil subtext and reduced to 2 mils at the end of 2 weeks on the last day I started feeling ill heart palpitation and it has alleys effected me in a bad way. I used 3 bags of heroin for 3 days then quit. The next day I use nothing and had very bad rattle no sleep direc sweat ect. The next day wich is today I use half bag ov heroin. I feel better. But I’m afraid and alone and don’t know what to do tomorrow. I have subtext in the house but door not whant to take it and I know my drug worker will urge me to go on a slow reduction bit when I take it is feel dipy and toxic and feel like I’m being poisind. I have research it and know that subtext is more dangerous than heroin. I don’t whant to take either please can anyone help me I am scared

    1. Hi Traci. 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.

  7. CRUD! Please combine this with my prior comment as this was supposed to be at the end (not the guinea pig comment, which this and it somehow were transposed from separate programs!) if you can. I’d truly appreciate it and think that the below could be vital. Also, this whole first paragraph can be removed if you’d so desire. It’s completely unnecessary.

    Also, your article’s topic is SO VERY IMPORTANT and strikes deep into a much larger target audience than any of us might realize. Not only could active opiate addicts thinking about cleaning up run across this while they mentally debate their options, but you’ve also got people who are in medication managed treatment now that could potentially be weighing the pros and cons of switching from methadone to buprenorphine . . . There are PLENTY of people I know who’re on and who have been on bupe (and/or Suboxone, too, for that matter – or who were on LAAM back before it was taken off the market, but LAAM’s another topic for another time) for some time now, but are scared of the unknown, which for them usually seems to be the potential withdrawal effects they could feel. So instead of attempting to slowly titrate their way off under their provider’s supervision, they’ve just maintained daily dosing. It’s the devil they know versus the unknown potential depths of some nightmare hell ride that they fear. If I were in their shoes, I’m not sure I’d have the courage to make an attempt, either – especially if I’d started to get my life back in order and feared that titration-induced withdrawals could topple all of it over. Given both the title and subject of your article and, as I stated in the above comment I’m planning to quote pieces of it during a hosted informational event where I’ll be speaking to groups of maybe up to twenty people at a time so that I can also attempt to address any questions that come my way. The organizers are thinking that there will be an audience primarily consisting of current and former addicts (a large percentage will most likely be either totally homeless or semi-homeless, too); friends, families, and the like of people battling addiction; and, the rest will be a mix of various industry professionals, local treatment center reps, addiction researchers, and students from some of the local largest university’s medical school and from the other medical-related post-secondary educational programs and institutions.I’ve been warned there may be media, legal aide, LEO, military, or other like government-types who also show up for a few minutes then leave before I finish, but if they show, I WANT them to stay, get educated, and maybe really learn something to make things better in their particular sphere of influence. Anyhow, if even one person gets help from this event or from something I say to them . . . Damn. But if it sounds like I don’t know what I’m talking about, then my chances to get through to anyone are greatly diminished. I don’t want to see that possibly happen here given how much great info you offer and the resources at the end you linked to which also offered a host of facts, help, and great data, too. I can’t thank you enough for writing it and if a small correction leads to something greater . . . well, now you know the heart of why I felt compelled to speak up like this.

    Another point or two you may wish to mull over or consider are in the remainder of this second comment. While I feel like my last point is truly the most vital and ultimately important, others may disagree – perhaps even you will. I don’t know. I can only follow my heart and conscience. I’m NOT discounting the other points – either the ones before or after the one I just made as they’ve all got a measure of importance. Like, below I make a point about cash flow from ad revenue to keep this site up and running, and, well, that’s probably the second most important point. And my point about revenue has nothing to do with getting rich off the backs of people genuinely seeking and needing help, so if someone reading this had that thought run across their mind, then they could not have possibly been reading what I’ve written so far or the points I’ve tried to make. See, when I consider who may later find themselves on this site or redirected to this page, deep in need of a small bit of hope, then reading this article, finding what they need, and ultimately getting their life back . . . well, then that ad revenue is a very worthy thing indeed. So, continuing now I’ll make my final points and leave it be how it will be in the end.

    There’s a ton of people who do either inpatient or outpatient rehab programs trying to get clean and they face the withdrawal issue, too. They could very well see your article, too. So could the professionals that work at treatment centers, for rehabs, as well as those in private addictionology practices also see this as is. If they are on the business end of things, it also makes them potential future advertisers or possible clients – and if they get rubbed the wrong way over it (and many clients are almost insanely picky!), well, then you’ve just lost any potential revenue you could’ve gained there. And any addict who might have found out about their services on this site, possibly while reviewing this article, could have missed the very thing that might make the difference. There are plenty of family members, partners, close friends, and even coworkers who do tons and tons of work and research before attempting an intervention – and they could also land on this page and make a snap judgment over a mere error . . . albeit a completely erroneous judgment, they won’t see that as they’ll have moved on to another source. I’m sure you’re aware that, if you’re using something like Adsense or the like, every single page load with an ad imbedded in it can make you a bit of revenue. The longer one stays on the site or if the visitor so happens to click through to the advertiser’s site pays much more than a simple load. So if something ‘turns people off’ – no matter how dumb it may seem – becomes just that much more important, and even more so especially when you consider that we’re dealing with addiction (and all the harmful, dark, painful, strange – and even the rare great things that come along with it) on this site.

    Really, truly, while I feel for the hypothetical students and truly do think you could easily go places with your writing if you wanted, what struck me as I hit “Submit” on the first comment and just typed out above is, at least to me, a far, far, FAR more important reason to consider making such a minor correction.

  8. ” . . . respiratory depressing ///affects/// as other opioids. Though the symptoms are not as effective as using other opioids, it is still possible to achieve the desired ///affects/// . . . ”

    That was taken from the second paragraph, just to make it easier to find should the author or an admin run across this and decide to do something about it – and I really hope it happens!

    Also, I’ll apologize now for being a “Grammar Nazi” or whatever, but as most of the time I’ll keep my “Grammar Nazi” tendencies to myself, this – silly as it might seem to some – really struck me as being important. I’m pretty severely sleep deprived, so I’ll also apologize now for rambling somewhat (which will likely happen) or if I repeat myself a bit (and it’s possible, too).

    Anyhow, proper word selection is important as using the wrong word (in this case it’s the wrong homonym) literally changes the meaning of what you’re attempting to express and get across to your audience. Word selection’s importance was driven into my skull thanks to every English teacher in elementary and secondary school. Then the professors and their assistants I had in journalism, English, and writing classes back in college managed to drive that importance into the core of my psyche. I used to have nightmares about our school paper’s editors yelling at me for trivial mistakes! Just kidding . . . at least about that last bit.

    Since even before graduating from college, I found myself in a writing-related career path, professionally speaking. I guess I’ve always been destined to write or the oddly serendipitous, seemingly coincidental series of events and chance meetings not only led to my first real job in the industry, similar events continue to bring me more work than I can handle. I’ve worked for several publishing/printing companies during my time. Ultimately I decided to strike out on my own and freelance – ghostwrite, edit, proofread, and so I could publish a wider range of works (under pseudonym) – so you could say I’ve got experience. 😉 Despite being a “pro”, I’m NOT trying to rub anyone’s nose in it because I’ve made the same kind of error. Remember folks, none of us are perfect – and I wouldn’t want to be, anyway!

    I suppose what I’m saying is that because this was selected for a talk I’m giving – and not, for instance, quoting it in a midterm or final research paper for a class (though it’s likely already happened before and will again occur in the future) – I’d not be in any academic danger if I’d missed the error. The hypothetical students, however, could be utilizing the quoted selection for reports, homework, classwork, presentations, or any number of other scholastic purposes beyond the theoretical midterm or final research paper I gave them in my example . . . and using the wrong homonym could really, really cost them quite dearly depending on the instructor and a whole host of variables. Please, for their sake, could these two minute, little peccadillos be corrected to read “effect” (versus “affect”, as they now read)? I truly do understand it’s so very easy to miss these things: especially in quick proofreading scans; during rushed once-before-its-posted edit; or, when much like me right now, you’ve been awake too long, and so the identical sounding homonyms don’t even register. Been there, the T-shirt was misprinted, but I wore it anyway. 🙂

    Now I’m just being silly. But beyond the above ‘word selection’ thing, if I failed to mention that I really liked the rest of the article, I’d be doing you an injustice. At first I thought my sleep-deprived brain misread things and that I’d replaced “effect” with “affect” in my mind! Yes, your article is that well written that I did a triple take before it ended, and found myself slightly feeling let down somehow. This piece would be so much smoother, not snagging or tripping up other crazy “Grammar Nazis” and/or writers of any breed. It’d be very difficult to improve upon as it’s highly readable, very informative, engaging, and quite well written. If you’ve not considered professional or semi-pro work, you might seriously want to consider taking it up! And, yes, I’d be glad to point you in the right direction or otherwise help if you did decide to take me up on my offer.

    Now this human guinea pig is going to get some much needed sleep!

  9. Hello krystal. That sounds very uncomfortable. Hang in there! You need psych-emotional support during this time, so reach out to your doctor, treatment supports like counselors or psychologists, and then peer support. Withdrawal symptoms peak at 72 hours after last dose and resolve in 7-10 days. Also, call your local pharmacist for more guidance and OTC ideas for treatment. You’re doing great!

  10. Hi so…im a addict coming off of iv use of suboxone tonight is my several long restless nights and day 8 off being completly off of this drug witch i did all together at once. Im having restless syndrom in my legs arms just everything is so uncomfortable and through the day i think im better but then night comes and im getting less then a hour of sleep at night…. im misrable and shakey all over! I just want sleep good sleep so despretly…so im asking what can i or should i do because ive took bath after hot bath in the middle of the night and taken tylonal and sleep aid non habit forming at night! So what do i do?

    That might not of made alot since due to getting no rest this may not be making since. I live in arkanas and just moved hete to get clean and change my life… but this is not easing up and im becoming very irratable due to it!

  11. Hi Lisa. Your brain’s functioning was influenced by Suboxone and now you cut off the supply. It is trying to sort itself out as you withdraw from this medication. Talk to a doctor or to the pharmacist at a local pharmacy to give you any OTCs that may help out. But, the truth is, it will only get better with time.

  12. what can help energy , strenghth and concentration on day 15 an still can barely move I was totally unfit b4 this and out of breath just walking 10 mins as put twice my body weight on thanks

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?