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What’s the difference between short term use of Suboxone (a short taper) and long-term treatment?

While short-term use of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is a way to quickly detox/come off opioids, this is not recommended. Staying on long-term evidence-based medication for addiction treatment (MAT) with Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is recommended to support a life in recovery.

A short taper of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is basically a detox program. This means that patients who have become addicted to opioids (like oxycodone/Percocet, hydrocodone/Vicodin, hydromorphone/Dilaudid, methadone, heroin, or fentanyl) can be slowly taken off these medications over 3-5 days while using buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) to minimize opioid withdrawal side effects. However, this short-term taper is NOT recommended. Studies have shown that patients who are detoxed off opioids and who have NOT started on long-term medication for addiction treatment (MAT) have high relapse rates and hence high risk of overdose and death.

Research DOES show that continuous, long-term use of medication for addiction treatment (MAT) with buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), methadone, or naltrexone (Vivitrol) is safe and effective. Taking buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) daily allows continual coverage of the opioid receptors to prevent withdrawal and craving and block the receptors from other opioids which cause overdose and death. When buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) is taken regularly and in conjunction with behavioral health supports, patients have an optimal chance of engaging in long-term recovery and meeting their treatment goals.

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