Detoxing from Suboxone at home is usually safe, as long as you can avoid engaging in opioid misuse as a result of any withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. However, you should still talk to a doctor before quitting Suboxone on your own, especially if you were taking it as part of a medication-based program for opioid use disorder. Remember, there is no reason to stop taking Suboxone if it continues to support your recovery—you can safely take this Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) in the long term.
If you were misusing Suboxone in an attempt to get high, you should not detox at home. You should seek professional help for withdrawal and Suboxone misuse or addiction.
How to Detox From Suboxone at Home
When engaging in Suboxone therapy for OUD, your body becomes dependent on the medication. Dependence isn’t the same as addiction—it’s a natural adaptation to the presence of this medication. However, this means that suddenly stopping taking Suboxone will result in withdrawal symptoms. There are some ways to prevent and mitigate Suboxone withdrawal symptoms, stay comfortable and safe while you detox, and avoid opioid relapse.
The following are some steps you should consider when trying to Suboxone detox at home or detox from similar buprenorphine-based medications at home:
Step 1: Talk to Your Doctor
If you intend to quit taking Suboxone for OUD, the first thing you should do is talk to your prescribing doctor. Suboxone withdrawal often isn’t intense compared to withdrawal from other opioids like heroin or morphine, but it can still cause significant discomfort and you should get the information you need to be prepared.
Your doctor can help you make a tapering plan so you can gradually reduce your Suboxone dose to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Tapering can be helpful because it helps your body slowly adjust to the lowered dose as opposed to shocking it by abruptly stopping Suboxone use.
Your Suboxone tapering plan and detox timeline will depend on:
- Your individual needs
- Your current Suboxone dose
- How long you’ve been taking Suboxone
- How you respond to each lowered dose
- The withdrawal symptoms and cravings you experience
Step 2: Make Sure Your Home Is Free of Opioids
While you shouldn’t have any opioids, such as prescription painkillers, fentanyl, or heroin, in your house as a rule, it’s especially important if you intend to detox from Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) at home.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means you may experience mild opioid withdrawal symptoms when you lower your dose (though hopefully, these are minimal with a quality tapering plan).
If you experience Suboxone withdrawal symptoms, you may be tempted to use other opioids to relieve your uncomfortable symptoms—especially because Suboxone is generally prescribed as a form of treatment for opioid use disorder.
Keeping your home opioid free adds more barriers in place to accessing opioids, meaning it will be easier to resist engaging in opioid misuse when your withdrawal symptoms are at their most intense.
Step 3: Try to Set Aside Time to Make the Process Easier
Withdrawal from Suboxone isn’t as intense as it is from other opioids, but it can still be an uncomfortable process that can make performing certain tasks more difficult.
If possible, set some time aside for yourself to make recovery easier, taking time off work or school. This can help you focus on your recovery and will make sure your withdrawal symptoms have less of a potential impact on your ability to perform important tasks.
You may also be feeling a bit emotional or moody during this time, so make sure to be gentle with yourself and engage in self-care practices, such as:
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Going on walks
- Listen to music
- Create a gratitude practice
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member
- Take a relaxing bath
- Get enough sleep and practice good sleep hygiene
If you are experiencing any unpleasant symptoms, try over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as Pepto Bismol for an upset stomach.
What Can You Expect From Suboxone Detox at Home?
Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Of these two drugs, only buprenorphine can cause physiological dependence, which means you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it.
Buprenorphine withdrawal is generally a mild form of opioid withdrawal syndrome, which is characterized by a variety of symptoms often described as “flu-like,” including these:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
These symptoms can shift later during the withdrawal process and may start to include symptoms such as these:
- Abdominal cramping
However, because buprenorphine is weaker than other opioids and is only a partial opioid agonist, your symptoms will likely be mild. This is especially true if you taper off of buprenorphine.
Therapies & Options That Support Detoxing at Home
Suboxone addiction, rather than physical dependence, is rare. It’s difficult for people who are not opioid naïve to experience euphoria from buprenorphine.
If you have been misusing any medications, addiction treatment services, such as inpatient or outpatient rehab, can help.
Addiction Treatment Program
At a treatment program, you’ll receive various therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can be helpful as you try to stop use. This type of therapy can help you build skills so you don’t return to opioid misuse once you are no longer on buprenorphine.
Many people also benefit from group or family therapy, as it helps them build connections with people who can better understand what they’re going through. This can be a helpful forum to discuss their feelings with non-professionals rather than exclusively talking with an expert.
Many people similarly find support groups helpful, where most of the people at a meeting have dealt with similar or virtually identical experiences to their own. Group members can offer friendly advice and moral support, helping people to feel less alone in their struggles.
What Are the Potential Dangers of Detoxing From Suboxone at Home?
Detoxing from Suboxone is almost never physically dangerous. Opioid withdrawal already tends not to be life-threatening, and buprenorphine withdrawal is a relatively mild form. The primary concern when someone tries detoxing from Suboxone on their own is that they may fall back to misusing opioids, especially stronger, more dangerous opioids.
As a medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), Suboxone can help suppress a person’s drug cravings, reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. If they suddenly stop taking the medication, those drug cravings can also return.
This is why Suboxone and similar medications are usually prescribed on a long-term basis. The benefits they can provide to people recovering from OUD usually offset any negative side effects they may cause, especially if they represent the deciding factor in whether one misuses particularly dangerous opioids like fentanyl.
Another danger is that a person might try quitting Suboxone thinking it has “cured” them of their OUD. In reality, there is no known cure for addiction. It is a chronic condition that must be managed for life. Addiction treatment almost always works best as an ongoing process. While treatment can and should evolve, it’s rare that the best choice is to stop with all forms of treatment, as this can greatly increase the risk of falling back into drug misuse.
Other Options for Detoxing From Suboxone
Assuming quitting Suboxone is the best option for you, there are a few options to consider when deciding to stop taking it besides detoxing from home.
Detoxing at a Treatment Facility
The first option is detoxing from Suboxone at a treatment facility. This is generally recommended for detox from stronger opioids, with the mild nature of Suboxone withdrawal making this option less necessary in this scenario.
However, it does generally ensure you get to detox in a safe, comfortable, and drug-free environment surrounded by trained addiction professionals who can offer help and advice as needed.
Online Suboxone Detox Support
Telehealth monitoring is another option. With this type of detox treatment, you can still detox from Suboxone at home. However, you also regularly check in with an addiction treatment professional over the internet through your phone or computer. This helps you get ongoing advice and support for your recovery while still detoxing in the comfort of your home.
In this case, a medical professional will usually design a tapering schedule that allows you to gradually take decreasing Suboxone doses. At the end of the schedule, you will no longer be taking the medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
You safely detox from Suboxone at home by first contacting your doctor, who will create an individualized tapering schedule for you to follow in which you’ll gradually lower your dose of Suboxone until you reach 0 mg. And if you experience any cravings or distressing withdrawal symptoms, tell your doctor so they can adjust your tapering plan.
No, you don’t need to enter a medical detox facility to quit taking Suboxone for opioid use disorder. This is because you aren’t addicted to it and the withdrawal symptoms from Suboxone are not severe or dangerous. You can generally detox at home, as long as you are doing so under your doctor’s guidance and recommendations.
The process for buprenorphine detox is the same as Suboxone detox. You contact your doctor, they create a tapering schedule, you follow that schedule at home in a relaxing and non-stressful environment, make sure you don’t have opioids at home and communicate with your doctor if you’re having any problems.
If you abruptly stop taking Suboxone for OUD, you will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms; however, they will be mild compared to withdrawal from other opioids like heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers. Tapering off Suboxone can help prevent withdrawal symptoms and help your body adjust to quitting.
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD
Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More
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