Switching from Methadone to Suboxone During Opiate Withdrawal

If you are taking methadone for opiate withdrawal, it’s possible to switch to taking Suboxone instead. However, methadone is a more potent, longer-lasting opiate maintenance medication than Suboxone. So, making the switch from methadone to Suboxone can be tricky. It’s important to do it right.

Understand the Differences Between Methadone and Suboxone in Opiate Withdrawal

Though both methadone and Suboxone are used to treat opiate withdrawal in recovering addicts, they are very different. Suboxone, which contains the main ingredient buprenorphine, is a short-acting partial opiate agonist. Methadone, on the other hand, is a long-acting, full opiate agonist.

What this means is that methadone is much more potent than Suboxone. Because it is a full opiate agonist, methadone can continue to stimulate the opioid receptors in the brain, no matter how high of a dosage you take. This is why laws and regulations regarding the use of methadone to manage opiate withdrawal are so restrictive; methadone has a high potential for abuse, because taking more than your prescribed dose can get you high.

Suboxone, on the other hand, has a much lower potential for abuse, because its partial opiate agonist action means that it will only stimulate the brain’s opioid receptors so much; there’s a built-in limit to its effects. Once you’ve reached the dosage ceiling for Suboxone, you’re not going to feel any further effects, no matter how much more you take.

Methadone also stays in your system much longer than Suboxone. It takes at least 36 hours for methadone to leave your system, and in some cases could take as long as 96 hours.

Benefits of Switching from Methadone to Suboxone

Both methadone and Suboxone have their benefits and drawbacks, but for many recovering addicts, Suboxone is the preferable treatment. Because methadone is so potent, it’s a great option for recovering addicts who are accustomed to taking large doses of opiate drugs; for these recovering addicts, Suboxone may not provide enough relief from opiate withdrawal symptoms, at least not initially. However, many recovering opiate addicts on methadone maintenance eventually want to make the switch to Suboxone. The benefits of Suboxone for opiate withdrawal include:

  • No more methadone clinics – This can be especially helpful if you live far away from a clinic, or if you find that going to the clinic puts you under too much temptation to use the illegal opiate drugs or other drugs. Drug dealers like to hang out at methadone clinics, because they know that’s where the addicts are.
  • Privacy – Suboxone allows you to receive treatment for opiate addiction in your doctor’s office. You’ll no longer have to deal with the stigma of attending an opiate maintenance clinic, because no one will need to know that you’re in opiate maintenance treatment except you.
  • Convenience – Since Suboxone has a much lower potential for abuse, you can more easily keep a supply of it in your home to treat your opiate withdrawal symptoms at the time and place that’s right for you. That means you can go out of town for work or a vacation, and free up time you would’ve otherwise spent traveling to and from a methadone clinic and receiving treatment there.
  • Dignity – Many recovering addicts using methadone to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms find the process of attending a methadone clinic to get their medication humiliating. Unfortunately, the authorities tend to treat opiate addicts like criminals. You won’t have to deal with that if you switch to taking Suboxone.

Making the Switch from Methadone to Suboxone

When you start taking Suboxone, it’s important that you be in full withdrawal before you take your first dose of the drug, or else you might experience a severe form of withdrawal known as “precipitated withdrawal.” Because methadone is so much more potent than many other opiate drugs, including heroin, you’ll have to wait longer after your last dose of methadone before you can start taking Suboxone. So, you might experience somewhat more discomfort when switching from methadone to Suboxone than you would if you were seeking treatment for prescription painkiller or heroin addiction.

Furthermore, you’ll have to taper down to low dose of methadone before you can begin taking Suboxone with any success. Opiate addiction specialists recommend that you taper down to a daily dose of 20 to 30 mg of methadone before you begin taking Suboxone. This way, your transition to buprenorphine can be as comfortable as possible.

Do not attempt to transition from methadone to Suboxone without speaking to your doctor first. If your withdrawal symptoms become too severe, it could put you at risk of relapse.

You don’t have to take methadone for the rest of your life; now there’s a better option.

Call us today at 888-415-0708 to learn more about switching from methadone to Suboxone for opiate maintenance. 

Avoid Painful Opiate Withdrawal with Suboxone Detox Treatment

One of the main reasons that heroin addicts do not seek help for their addiction are the painful effects of opiate withdrawal. Suboxone detox treatment prevents the debilitating symptoms of heroin withdrawal and saves lifes. This fact is more important than ever, as super-potent form of heroin mixed with fentanyl has already claimed more than 80 lives up and down the East Coast, and officials expect to see hundreds more fall victim to this particularly insidious and potent drug.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 100 times stronger than morphine. It’s typically administered to patients suffering severe chronic pain. In hospitals, it’s administered to patients as a patch, a lollipop or a drip. Because it’s so powerful, fentanyl is typically reserved for patients in the final stages of terminal illness. It respiratory suppressant effects are what makes it so fatal.

Killer Heroin Laced with Fentanyl

Small amounts of fentanyl can have a powerful effect. Authorities have identified several “brands” of heroin laced with fentanyl, including “Income Tax,” “Theraflu” and “Bud Light.” Dealers stamp heroin bags with logos or product names as a promotion tactic. If a user really likes a particular bag of heroin, he can tell his friends to ask for bags from that batch by name.

Users like fentanyl-laced heroin, authorities say, because it has a kick. But even a small dose of heroin laced with fentanyl could be many times stronger than what a user is accustomed to.

Law enforcement officials have found bags of heroin that contain as much as 50 percent fentanyl. In some cases, pure fentanyl is being sold as heroin.

Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, so it’s important to exercise caution if you come into contact with any heroin.

Suboxone for Opiate Withdrawal Part of the Fight Against Killer Heroin

Suboxone, an opiate maintenance treatment used to treat the symptoms of opiate withdrawal so heroin addicts can enter counseling, has a vital role to play in the fight against killer heroin. The fear of opiate withdrawal, which can be excruciatingly painful, is a big reason why many heroin addicts hesitate to get treatment. They may not realize how thoroughly Suboxone can alleviate their opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Opiate addiction treatment is far more effective for combating heroin addiction than simply arresting users and street level dealers. When opiate withdrawal symptoms are addressed and drug counseling is offered, heroin abusers can turn their lives around and become productive members of society. With Suboxone for opiate addiction, that process is surprisingly swift; Suboxone relieves opiate withdrawal symptoms from the first day of treatment, so heroin addicts can being feeling normal and doing normal things right away.

Drug court programs around the country have been remarkable successful in helping drug addicts get access to treatment. Many don’t know what their options are for opiate addiction treatment.

In addition to Suboxone for opiate maintenance, EMTs and law enforcement around the nation are pushing for increased access to naloxone, an opioid agonist that clears the opioid receptors in the brain and can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. Addiction specialists point out that heroin overdose takes a relatively long time to slow down a person’s respiration enough to cause death. There’s a big window of opportunity for law enforcement or emergency medical technicians to administer the life-saving drug naloxone. Good Samaritan Laws allow people to seek emergency medical help for someone in the midst of a heroin overdose without fearing legal repercussions for any drugs found at the scene.

Many believe that law enforcement should focus its efforts on the drug cartels and distributers responsible for making heroin so widely available. Arresting individual users and street-level dealers is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.

Experts Say Opiate Dependence Is Worse Than Other Addictions

Addiction specialists and addicts themselves maintain that opiate addiction is worse than other addictions, due to the high tolerance users build and the horrifying opiate withdrawal symptoms that they face if they try to stop or are unable to use for some reason. Heroin addicts are most vulnerable to overdose after a period of abstinence, which can lower tolerance, or even after a period of using less potent heroin.

Suboxone offers what most heroin addicts desperately want – a chance to feel normal again. If you or someone you love is fighting heroin addiction and terrified of the effects of opiate withdrawal, there’s a way out. Call 888-415-0708 to learn more.

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

If you’re struggling with opiate addiction, the fear of withdrawal alone can be enough to make you hesitate to get clean. How long does opiate withdrawal really last? Is there an effective treatment for opiate withdrawal?

The physical effects of withdrawal from opiates may last only a few weeks, but the mental effects can drag on for months. Luckily, there are treatments available that can help you escape the worst of your withdrawal symptoms.

Physical Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal

The physical symptoms of withdrawal from opiates typically begin about 12 to 30 hours after you last use opiate drugs, depending on which type of drug you were using. The early physical symptoms of withdrawal are extremely painful, and include anxiety, muscle aches, runny nose, watery eyes, agitation, sweating, abdominal cramps, insomnia, dilated pupils, nausea, goose bumps, vomiting and diarrhea. If you were to quit cold turkey, you’d experience your worst opiate withdrawal symptoms during the first five days after quitting.

By week two, many people quitting opiates experience a significant reduction of their withdrawal symptoms. If your addiction was quite severe, you may continue to experience withdrawal symptoms going into the second week. Most likely, however, your opiate withdrawal symptoms in the second week will be limited to confusion, inability to concentrate, impaired judgment and anxiety.

By the third week of withdrawal from opiates, your physical symptoms should have subsided – but during this period, many people report feeling intense cravings for opiates. Your brain has not yet healed from the damage done by opiate addiction – it can take months for full healing to occur. In the fourth week of opiate withdrawal, your physical symptoms should have subsided, but mental symptoms like depression and a feeling of fogginess can persist for months after you quit taking opiates.

You Don’t Have to Suffer Opiate Withdrawal

Fortunately, modern treatments for opiate addiction have advanced to the point where you can quit taking opiates without going through a full-blown, painful withdrawal. You have a couple of options.

The first option is rapid detox. This is a good option for people who have a short history of opiate addiction and are high-functioning. When you choose rapid detox, you’ll be put under general anesthesia and given naloxone, a drug that flushes all the opiates out of your system at once and puts you into full opiate withdrawal.

Don’t worry – you’ll be asleep for it! By the time you wake up, the worst of your opiate withdrawal symptoms will have passed. You may still feel foggy and may have some mild physical effects – you’ll want to schedule your procedure so you can take a few days off work afterward.

The second option is Suboxone treatment to manage your opiate withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone is an opiate maintenance drug, an alternative to methadone. It’s ideal for treating opiate withdrawals because it’s a partial opiate agonist – it stimulates your brain’s opioid receptors enough to relieve your opiate withdrawal symptoms, but not so much that you get high. If you try to abuse Suboxone, it won’t work – and if you try to take other opiate drugs while on Suboxone, you won’t get high.

Suboxone’s low potential for abuse means that you can take a supply of the drug home with you – you won’t have to make time to go to a clinic every day to get your medication or risk going into full opiate withdrawal. It’s prescribed by a doctor in the privacy of a primary care office. You can take this opiate withdrawal medication in the privacy of your own home, at a time that suits you, and no one needs to know that you’re taking it if you don’t want them to. With Suboxone, you can begin to feel “normal” again right away – as soon as the first day of treatment.

As your Suboxone treatment progresses, you’ll gradually lower your dose a little each day, until you can finally stop taking Suboxone altogether and have minimal, manageable opiate withdrawal symptoms.

If you’re struggling with opiate addiction, you have options. Don’t quit cold turkey and suffer full opiate withdrawals. Call us today at 888-415-0708 to learn more about our opiate addiction treatment programs.