Suboxone contains buprenorphine, which has a half-life of up 25 to 72 hours or up to three days, depending on your metabolism. Most people experience buprenorphine’s effects for almost the whole day, so sublingual Suboxone is taken about once per day.
However, your medical provider may have you take it every other day, divide your dose up to smaller twice or three-times daily doses, or otherwise adjust your treatment plan, depending on your individual needs.
You will take your first dose of Suboxone as soon as you start to experience withdrawal from opioid drugs. You’ll then spend two to three days adjusting the dose to get to one that works best for you, in collaboration with your medical provider. You will be able to stay on this maintenance dose as long as you need.
Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) is one of the most important approaches to helping people overcome opioid use disorder (OUD), preventing relapse, overdose, and death. Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is one of the most prescribed and widely available medicines used for MAT.
Naloxone prevents the substance from being tampered with and buprenorphine is the active ingredient. When Suboxone is taken as directed (dissolved under the tongue or in the cheek), the buprenorphine in Suboxone enters the bloodstream and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms for as long as two days, depending on your individual metabolism.
During the maintenance phase of OUD treatment, which may last as long as you choose, you will take Suboxone once per day. It is possible that you may begin to decrease your dose and take Suboxone every other day or take half the dose you took initially over time.
It is important to know that there is no specific timeline for how long you can safely take Suboxone. Many people overcoming opioid addiction take this medicine for months or years. Many take it indefinitely. Suboxone treatment lasts as long as you need it to.
Suboxone treatment is effective and safe for use no matter how long you continue on it.
While there is a basic template for beginning and maintaining Suboxone treatment, it is important to know that your physician will work with you as an individual to manage how much Suboxone you take and when. For example, while many people take Suboxone once per day, some people are better off taking smaller doses twice or three times per day.
Here are the average doses for each phase of Suboxone MAT treatment and how long they are effective:
Buprenorphine is a long-acting partial opioid agonist, meaning it weakly activates the opioid receptors and does not cause significant intoxication in people who have developed a tolerance to opioids. While many people experience relief from cravings on Suboxone for 10 hours, others feel relief for days buprenorphine’s half-life ranges between 25 and 72 hours.
It is very important not to suddenly quit Suboxone. Remember that Suboxone is safe and effective for OUD treatment. If you want to stop taking it, talk to your medical provider first, as they are a licensed buprenorphine provider and understand when and how to safely taper you off the medication.
Acute withdrawal from buprenorphine can, according to medical research, last as long as a month. Compare this to heroin’s acute withdrawal symptoms, which last for about a week. Precipitated withdrawal can last even longer. On the other hand, the severity of the withdrawal when coming off of Suboxone can be minimized significantly if you work with your provider to taper slowly off the medication over weeks to months. In addition, ask your provider about “comfort medications” to ease any withdrawal symptoms that do emerge.
You do not have to taper off Suboxone if it is effective for you. This medicine supports your health as you go through counseling and other parts of your rehabilitation program, so you can focus on returning to a normal life.