Tips for Stopping Buprenorphine Therapy

Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone or Subutex, is a medication that is approved and used to treat dependence for opioid abuse for things like heroin or prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, or fentanyl and it is used as a medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT.

It is taken as a replacement for the treatment of opioid dependence and is used to help people withdraw from those drugs and reduce the need to use them. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist meaning, it works partially like an opioid does however the effects are much weaker than opioids like heroin or methadone. It has what is called a ceiling effect. This means the effects of the opioids level off when the dosage increases.

Tips for Stopping Buprenorphine Therapy

Buprenorphine Dependence is a Real Addiction

Due to the way buprenorphine works in the body, this medication can result in physical dependence, making it difficult to get off the drug.  Because of this, it can be used for a medication-based treatment for opioid addiction because it reduces the possibility of cravings and loss of control. Because of this dependency, it is never safe to abruptly stop taking Buprenorphine. It is always recommended to taper off with doctor supervision.

When someone is tapering off Buprenorphine, they most likely will experience withdrawal symptoms such as low appetite, low energy, insomnia, and irritability however a good tapering schedule will help reduce the severity of these symptoms. When tapering, no reduction in dose should be attempted until all withdrawal symptoms have stopped after the last reduction of dosage. If withdrawal symptoms turn out to be too much for you to handle after lowering your dose, it is okay to remain at the previous dose for a little longer until this passes.

How Long Does it Take to Taper Off Buprenorphine?

Each person’s timeline of tapering off of Buprenorphine may look a little different depending on the amount they are taking and the length of time they have been on it so tapers may take many forms depending on your needs. Below is one example of how a buprenorphine taper can occur:

  • The highest initial dose is 16 mg per day
  • Day 1: Reduce intake by 25% to 12 mg per day
  • Day 6: Reduce dosage from 12 mg per day to 8 mg per day
  • Day 11: Take 4 mg per day
  • Day 16: Take 2 mg per day
  • Day 24: Take 1.50 mg per day
  • Day 31: Take 1 mg per day
  • Day 39: Take .75 mg per day
  • Day 45: Take.50 mg per day

How to Stop Using Buprenorphine

When tapering down, it is best to take your dose the first thing in the morning. This is because the levels of Buprenorphine are at their lowest when you are asleep so taking your dose before bed isn’t necessary because you will be sleeping anyway. Taking it in the morning also allows you to not have to think about it for the rest of the day. Also, be sure to take your whole dose at one time. Don’t split up your dose.

Once you have gotten off of Buprenorphine completely, there is always a potential to go back to the drugs that once took over your life, so it is very important to continue utilizing other resources to remain sober like individual or group therapy, 12 step meetings, behavioral treatment, counseling services, or residential treatment.

Get the Help You Need

If you or someone you love has been struggling with opioid addiction or need to taper off Buprenorphine, please feel free to give Recreate Life Counseling a call today. We will discuss treatment options, and do our best to point you in the right direction. Now is the time to turn your life around. Let us help you do it. Our team of qualified professionals is available 24/7 to answer any question or concerns you may have. It is time to put the pain and misery of addiction in your past and rebuild your life into something you are proud of.