Updated: Sep 19, 2018
Perhaps you are thinking about making the jump, or you have made the jump and are in the middle of the third circle of hell, and you are wondering, how long will this last?
When getting off of Suboxone, we all have to pay the piper; there is no getting around this. There is a smörgåsboard of symptoms; you might have them all (not likely), or you might have a few, but either way, they suck!
The main issue that you might but up against with the withdrawal experience is the fact that, though the symptoms are all bearable, the timeline is long, really fucking long. This is what really scares most people and can cause many to go back to the orange dragon. I equate the length of the withdrawal to Chinese water torture: sure a few drops of water on my forehead are okay, but after a while, I start going insane.
There are so many possible withdrawal symptoms to be had when getting off of sub. Most of us are familiar with the symptoms as we may have gone through a withdrawal either from suboxone or from another full agonist opiate (heroin, oxy, etc.) before now. If you have gone through a full-blown withdrawal from a full agonist opiate and not from suboxone, you will experience many similar things but at a lower grade. The official suboxone website for suboxone, suboxone.com, does not talk about getting off of suboxone (why would it) nor does it list any withdrawal symptoms, just side effects. I did find a list on americanaddictioncenters.org that was not exhaustive, but pretty thorough. I added a few more symptoms to the list.
nausea diarrhea irritability depression vomiting headaches muscles aches insomnia lethargy digestive distress
anxiety drug cravings fever chills sweating
restless legs sneezing lacrimation yawning teeth chattering concentration difficulties general restlessness piloerection(goosebumps)
Count your Time in Weeks
When I started looking around for a reasonable timeline on withdrawal symptoms, I found many that looked like the one on therecoveryvillage.com. Their nifty chart says that physical symptoms are at their worst at 72 hours. This is bullshit. Physical symptoms are often just getting started at 72 hours. Out of all of the information I sifted through online regarding suboxone withdrawal, counting your time in weeks rather than days was the best piece of advice I found. This is NOT MEANT TO SCARE you, but instead meant to be realistic when you are wondering how long you are going to feel "under the weather."
Week One: Hell. Week one can be tricky because you might have a not so bad day, then BOOM, you are slammed with an awful day. This is the nature of the long-ass half-life. You are alive, but you might oscillate between wishing you weren't and being okay.
Week Two: Hellish still. Week two has some similar aspects to week one, but during this week symptoms may become more gentle. There might be a big climactic peak of a shit storm, where the demon is exorcised, and then the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, or things just might generally become increasingly better overall. Insomnia can be a bitch though, especially as other symptoms are diminishing. Not getting proper sleep will make anyone crazy. If you do suffer from crippling insomnia, get help!
Week Three: Week three is the cakewalk week. Things are on the upswing for most people. However, this is when you get to see what or if you will have any clingers, those people that don't get the hint when the party is over. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS, are the symptoms that come after the acute phase. I like to think about PAWS as signs that my body is healing itself. Insomnia, depression, and drug cravings are often the leftovers. However, the hard part is over, and you never have to go through the shitty withdrawal again if you don't want to. I cannot say this enough, if you are overwhelmed with insomnia, depression, etc. get professional help.
Come up with a plan
It is important to have a plan. Shit might hit the fan and you need to be prepared to deal with it. Before you even jump it will help you on your journey to have a plan.
Have a friend on speed dial that knows what you are doing and can be there for you when you need it.
Make plans to get out and do something, getting yourself out of your head.
Prepare some gentle meals to eat.
Have some supplements on hand. For supplements one can take while going through withdrawal you can head over to
Be okay with losing your shit.
You have got this. Making the decision to jump and then following through is a powerful thing to do.
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