How to Get Back on Suboxone

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Patients who have stopped using Suboxone can be safely and quickly restarted. If you are used to high doses of Suboxone, you can likely start again on your own, especially if you have only missed a few doses.

However, if you've been off Suboxone for weeks or months, you may want to start at a slightly lower dose to avoid side effects, such as nausea or dizziness, and quickly go up to an amount that prevents opioid cravings.

Since this is an individualized decision, it’s best to talk with a doctor before you get started.

Why Restart Suboxone?

Sometimes individuals forget to take a few doses of their medication for multiple reasons. Other times, they may intentionally discontinue their medications, either because of side effects or because they want to see if their cravings return. While some people may be able to discontinue Suboxone without side effects or cravings, others may experience a return of cravings or withdrawal symptoms that put them at risk of relapse to other drug use.

These are common reasons to restart Suboxone:

  • Risk of Relapse: People who discontinue their Suboxone before they are ready are at increased risk of relapse to drug use. [1] If you experience a return of your cravings, it may be smart to start Suboxone again right away.
  • Changing circumstances: A new job, a failed romance, or a family death could increase feelings of stress. When you're under pressure, you're more likely to revert to drug misuse. Returning to Suboxone could help you handle these pressures without relapsing.
  • Illness or injury: Sometimes an acute injury requiring opioid pain medication can be a trigger that brings cravings back. In these cases, it might be good to restart Suboxone. [2]
  • Cravings: Some patients notice that they have cravings for opioids months or even years after discontinuing use of opioids. In these patients, long term use of Suboxone might be appropriate, or even life saving.

There’s no shame in restarting your prescription. Some people take Suboxone indefinitely to stay on track.[3] If you need help to stay sober, use your prescription. That’s what it's there for.

Do You Have To Relapse To Restart Suboxone?

No! In fact, it's best to restart Suboxone prior to actually relapsing to drug use. Reach out to your doctor the moment you notice your cravings are increasing. They can get you a prescription right away and prevent relapse.

Sources

  1. Predictors of Relapse After Inpatient Opioid Detoxification During 1-Year Follow-Up. Journal of Addiction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5046044/. September 2016. Accessed July 2022.
  2. Opioid Prescriptions Down But Some Patients Fear Doctors Now Too Strict. CMAJ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520068/. May 2019. Accessed July 2022.
  3. Buprenorphine. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine. July 2022. Accessed July 2022.
  4. Prescribing Information: Suboxone Sublingual Film. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/022410s000lbl.pdf. August 2010. Accessed July 2022.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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