What you need to know about Tapering off Suboxone

on Thursday, 26 February 2015. Posted in Breaking News

Many people who have struggled with opioid painkiller addiction have experienced help from Soboxone, a medication that combines buprenorphine and naloxone to relieve withdrawal from other opioid medication, reduce cravings, and reduce the unapproved, mood altering and addicting effects of those drugs. However, Suboxone is itself a narcotic drug, that can pose great risk if misued.

Taking more Soboxone than prescribed, or for a longer period of time, could result in serious health risks. For that reason, it must be carefully taken under strict medical supervision. That is also why going "cold turkey" off Suboxone can create unpleasant withdrawal effects, including anxiety, pain, confusion, diarrhea, fatigue, and headaches.

photo credit: NYTimes

For that reason, health care providers place a Suboxone user on a program of "tapering off," or taking less and less of a drug to ease the withdrawal process. Here are some things to understand about this tapering off process.

It can often be long and hard, but if you are gentle on yourself, you can work to have a successful recovery, bringing you one stepping stone closer to total sobriety.

The general rule of thumb - gradual reduction

The maximum amount of Suboxone that can be safely taken is 30 mg a day, and an amount that large is very rare. The smallest dose is a 2mg; although some people have had sucess breaking stips into half or quarters.

So, talk with your doctor, and come to a place where you both decide it's time to stop using Suboxone. He or she will probably recommend a phased withdrawal, reducing your dosage by 1 mg every week.

As with all steps of your Soboxone use, always be careful to follow the instructions of your doctor. Trying to take more or less outside of medical supervision could result in unpleasant or even dangerous effects.

Generally, you should strive for a period of stabilization within each dosage. That is, give you mind and body time to adjust to the new dosage, and feel comfortable with it, before attempting to go lower.

Don't be afraid to take your time and go slow, simply do the best you can each day at a time and know that you will reach the freedom of total sobriety eventually.

As part of a larger program of recovery

The severity of withdrawal may increase as the dosages get smaller and smaller, and the jump from 2mg to 0 can still be a hard adjustment, though far less severe than the withdrawal from opioids would be otherwise. Thus, Suboxone is not a "miracle drug" that will instantly cure you of your addiction, it can lessen the cravings and pain of physical withdraw, but not eliminate them entirely.

If you decide to use Suboxone, it must be part of a holistic program, that has other ways of dealing with the issues of your addition. Regular involvement in a support group or with a therapist can help you delve into the deeper psychological and emotional struggles of sobriety.

Lifestyle changes such as setting a regular schedule of exercise, consistent sleep, and enjoyable activities can help you replace your addictive habit with things that can truly contribute to a full and good life. Being a part of social networks helps you gain support and a purpose for living, so you can truly learn to enjoy a sober life.

Suboxone can help some people with part of this, but it will still involve work on your part, and take a full commitment in order to beat your addiction. It is a huge adjustment, and not always easy, but one that many people have done and survived.

Hope is possible, if you keep perusing recovery with everything you can.

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