Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Suboxone Detox and Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

We seem to have opened a little tin of worms here with the posts about Suboxone, starting with my interview with Dr. Steven Scanlan, a Florida detox doc who uses Suboxone and Subutex to detox patients off opioids.

People are writing in about Suboxone. It’s great that folks are asking questions! I need to emphasize (this also appears in my “About” page) that I’m not an expert or practitioner. I don’t dispense professional advice; I share personal experience. I’m a person with addiction who has been through the mill. I write from the place of “beginner’s mind.” The experience of detox—choosing a method; committing to it; literally waking up and smelling the roses—is still fresh for me, and the feeling persists in my daily life of being lucky to be alive. I write this blog because I used to take so many different drugs, and had lost control, and am now able to stay sober. I know there are solutions out there, some of which don’t involve being on drugs for the rest of one’s life.

And I seriously used to think I’d just have to be on drugs for the rest of my life. I’m only 46.

So a reader wrote in with a question about feeling really crappy post-detox. This person had been taking OxyContin for a little over a year, at between 90 and 400mg per day, but usually around 90-120mg. They ran out of cash and got their doctor to prescribe Suboxone. They were able to taper from, as far as I can tell, 16mg per day to one-quarter of a tablet or a film (they used both)—which, depending on whether they were taking the 2mg or the 8mg formulations available in the U.S., means they were dosing at either .5mg or 2mg per day at the end. It’s unclear from the way the email is written exactly what dose they jumped from at the end.

This is important, though: the jumping-off dose. Get to that in a minute.

They write:

In the last two days I have altogether stopped taking it. The problem is I have been experiencing extreme tiredness; major digestive issues, especially gastric reflux and an on and off “lump in my throat”; and muscle weakness. I am a middle-aged cardio athlete and I now have extreme sensitivity to air conditioning or temperature change between rooms at the gym. Overall I feel like I gotta be dying of cancer or something is really wrong with me! I am not sure how long this is going to last and have yet to come across an article describing Suboxone withdrawal and how long it may take for me to feel “normal” again or if that is even going to be possible? I am kind of determined to stay off the Suboxone as I believe is causing me lots of physical problems I don’t read about in the “side effects” articles. Is what I am experiencing “normal” and if so how long do you think it may be until these awful sensations and other problems go away?

The experience this person is writing about is called “post-acute withdrawal syndrome” (PAWS). What this means: after we’re done with the “acute” detox—the period of time in which the body is getting rid of the remnants of drugs still in our systems—there can be another phase of detox that is “post-acute,” when the body is still working to heal from the effects of our addiction.

Suboxone, like methadone (or any drug with a long half-life), takes a long time to be excreted by the body. It’s not like the day you stop taking it, your body is free of the drug. One nurse I know who detoxed from Suboxone put herself through urine tests, and could detect Suboxone in her blood up to three weeks after jumping.

One critical thing to remember about the healing process after detox: Opioid drugs hijack our body’s ability to make its own opiates, called endorphins. When we’ve hijacked our body’s ability to produce endorphins, and we detox, it takes a while to heal.

So ALL withdrawal symptoms mean the body is healing. Withdrawal is a healing process. (It sux, but it’s healing. :))

The symptoms of opiate PAWS include some of the ones mentioned in this email:

  • Persistent fatigue: endorphins help regulate the body’s energy; when we take extra opioids, it can affect our endocrine systems, which regulate our metabolism and sex hormones (many opiate addicts have experienced lack of sex-drive, women sometimes go into menopause, and men sometimes demonstrate low testosterone levels). When we detox, these systems don’t just switch back to “normal” immediately.
  • Digestive problems: this person has gastric reflux and a feeling of a lump in the throat; other people have persistent loose bowels and lack of appetite. Did you know that the brain isn’t the only place that has opiate receptors?—the entire GI tract is lined with them, especially the “gut” or intestines. Which is why opiate addicts usually experience constipation: opiates slow down the body’s “autonomic” functions, including digestion (and breathing, which is why ODs can be lethal, and why morphine is standard treatment for people at the end of life experiencing “dyspnea,” or breathing problems). When we detox, suddenly the GI system is shocked back into action, because there’s nothing numbing it anymore. It takes a while to settle down.
  • Temperature sensitivity: endorphins help regulate the body’s thermostat. When we take extra opioids, the body’s ability to perform this function on its own is compromised; when we detox, it takes time for the body to regain this function.
  • Sadness, anxiety, and pessimistic feelings: This person says they feel like they might have cancer, or that “something is really wrong.” Just as opioids numb certain physiological systems, they also numb our feelings. (Candace Pert, the neuroscientist who discovered the opiate receptor, calls opiates the “molecules of emotion.”) One of the main reasons opiate addicts choose opioids over other drugs is because these drugs are so efficient at numbing emotional life. But when we detox, all the feelings numbed out by the drugs come back, and because our native endorphin production is out of whack, it takes a while for our body-mind to begin to “feel” in normal ways again.

Who gets PAWS: There’s a ton of stories from people who have detoxed or tried to detox from Suboxone demonstrating that many of us experience PAWS. On the other hand, some people don’t experience much PAWS at all. A great deal depends on the differences between each of our bodies and minds, as well as how long we were taking drugs, what level we detoxed from, how low a dose we tapered to, how well we’re taking care of ourselves, and how much support we’re getting.

 

Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do: “Lies My Mother Never Told Me,” a memoir by Kaylie Jones, describes how the author recovered from her alcoholism in part through this discipline.

Some common-sense tips for managing PAWS:

  • Shorten your detox: If you want to use Suboxone to detox, try to stay on it a minimal amount of time. The many personal accounts I’ve heard, as well as some professional opinion, suggests that people using Suboxone to detox should try to use it no more than three to four weeks. Beyond that, the body begins to get used to Suboxone (just as it becomes used to any opioid after such a time), which can become a problem in and of itself. Again, this doesn’t seem to be the case for everybody.
  • Taper as low as you can before jumping, especially from long-acting drugs such as Suboxone. In Europe, buprenorphine is made in doses of .2mg, which is helpful for tapering to minute doses. In the U.S., tapering this low has to be done by splitting 2mg tablets into slivers of a quarter or an eighth-milligram, or securing the films, which can be cut to facilitate very low tapering. As an example, I tapered to .125mg (one-eighth) before jumping. Those who jump from even 1mg usually have a rougher ride. It’s estimated that 1mg Suboxone equals about 33-40mg morphine (in binding power). I wouldn’t want to jump from 35mg morphine.
  • Begin serious daily aerobic exercise, as soon as you know you want to detox. Exercise is one of the best ways to help the body restore its own endorphin production. … I detoxed in the fall. I was exhausted, but I loaded upbeat songs on the iPod and dragged myself for a 20-minute walk every day, going as fast as I needed to go to sweat. I also rode a stationary bike. My sleep and temperature regulation wasn’t great when I finally jumped off Suboxone, but today I sleep normally. Even better, I can cycle 30 miles, play 2 hours of tennis, clean the house; and two days ago I scored my first pull-up. (Yaaaah!) We do heal.
  • Ask for some kind of 3-D support. Work some kind of program of recovery. The way I look at it: when I broke my elbow, I had to do PT, right? I can’t numb out my body and feelings without doing some kind of repair work. I started going to 12-step meetings, and sharing my experience with and learning from others who had been through the same thing helped ease the anxiety and let me know I could get better. It doesn’t have to be meetings; it could be therapy, or a spiritual community, or a physical discipline such as Tae-Kwon Do—anything that helps us enlarge our perspective and grow.

A great resource and support for those detoxing from Suboxone is the Suboxone Forum at Opiate Detox Recovery.

Please share your experiences here, too. And if there are any physicians or researchers who can point to studies about PAWS and Suboxone, please give us a heads-up. I checked Ovid this morning and couldn’t find any. … Not that studies tell the whole truth, but this reader was looking for “articles.”

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50 Comments

  1. Betty Ann Petitt

    March 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Hi I am a heroin addict are use to be I have tried methodone on different times none of them seems to work for me .Then I got enter dose to Suboxone IN which I had Taken only for 3 days Then I was fine ,maybe just a little tiny bet upset to my stomach.Ha.d the runs only one time in the morning. after that I was fine. I hope that will help .not every body is the same

  2. I am 23 days sober today!!! I became addicted to perks, then oxy’s, then suboxone to get off the oxy’s. I took Suboxone for 6 months, starting at 8mg, then 4mg and jumped off at 2mg. I wanted sobriety so bad. I asked the doc for a smaller dose to taper down but he kept prescribing the 8’s saying not to take it too fast. He said that if i were to have any withdrawl symptoms at all they would be mild. I stopped going to see him, because 6 months was long enough for me. I tapered myself and that’s why I jumped at 2mg. I didn’t think it was a large dose. I feel like such a moron for not doing my own research and listening to the Doctor. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. This withdrawl lasts forever. I wish I would have just tapered the oxy’s. At 23 days I’m still not eating much and my stomach has been upsidedown for the last 2 weeks. I found it strange that this symptom came on later and not right in the beginning. Still keep waking up between the hours of 3:00am-5:00am. I’ve taken so much Ibuprofen this whole time. My legs still ache most days. And lots of anxiety. I am looking forward to the day I feel great. I push myself and make myself exercise even if I don’t want to because I always feel better after. My day is coming soon. My body is healing and I must be patient. I am really proud of myself. I look at this time right now as my life’s training. I want to be the best I can be. I have found so much strength within myself I never knew I had. My determination and my drive is sky high and that will carry on throughout the rest of my life. I am never looking back.

  3. guinevere

    March 6, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Nikki, how great for you that you’re almost a month free. You’re absolutely right—your body is healing. You ought to be proud of yourself… Congratulations and thanks for being here. 🙂

  4. I was on subutex and suboxone for about a year and a half. Ive been off it now for nearly a month. The withdrawals are horrible. Ive been in the emergency room three times because i could not hold food or water in my stomach. In the beginning I was throwing up and dry heaving every two minutes for days. Finally i started taking roxicodone 15 mg to counteract the suboxone withdrawals. I would take like half a pill every 4 or five hours. You still fee like shit and it lasts forever. Now ive stopped takin the opiate about 8 days ago. Im still going through the PAWS, it really sucks but i am determined to get through it. I can only eat a little bit of food and i have lost a lot of weight. Im really tired and going to work is dreadful. Im going to start taking vitamins because i know that my body has been depleted of them. My advice is do not get on this medication. Doctors never warned me about the withdrawals associated with this drug, Ivee been through opiate withdrawals before and its like a walk in the park compared to this because they don’t last nearly as long, at least that has been my experience. I found that the easiest thing to do is taper yourself off of the opiate instead, Roxy’s in my case. I just hope this shit doesnt last to much longer because I have a kid on the way and I dont want to use opiates anymore. I would like to read anyone whos having a similar experiance. Bert 25 Florida

  5. I was on subs for 3 months. 60+ days post jump, from two weeks at .25mg, things had only gotten worse. Sorry to be a downer but that’s my truth. I went back to my doc and was hoping to get on wellbutrin (works on different receptors than ssris) and he put me on the butrans patch – a low dose buprenorphine patch that I need to change every week. It provides 5 mcg/hour. I can tell you that after the first day I cleaned my house, steam cleaned my carpets, started exercising again – and best of all I no longer wake up with that sense of dread like “how am I possibly going to face the day.” I dress nicely again and even wear makeup. Go figure.

    I’m still torn and a little upset as my goal was to be completely clean but my quality of life was getti g progressively worse. This may not be the option for you, but I couldn’t give it anymore time as I felt I could not survive another day. And if I was willing to take an AD I figured I could try this. Not sure what my plans are regarding coming off but boy am I really loving life right now.

    Oh, and it’s prescribed off label for opiate induced depression. I haven’t been able to find any literature or anyone elses experiences in using it for this.

  6. guinevere

    June 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    @Aimless… everybody’s physiology is different. … I wonder if you meant that it was prescribed for depression as a result of lack of endorphins? —buprenorphine is an opiate, so if the depression were opiate-induced, it would seem bupe would only contribute to that. But interesting.

    Thanks for letting us know your experience, and hope things continue to go well for you. –G

  7. Yep. That’s why. The doc told me that he sees women having a super hard time coming off opis/subs. I asked him about thyroid, vitamin, hormone issues – anything to not have to go back on. He had run all kinds of panels at 30 days and this could not be attributed to any physiological issue. So he assumed it was the endorphin thing.

    Thanks for the well wishes. I don’t want to derail anyone’s progress. I fully expected paws and did experience them/it, but there were never any good days. They only got progressively worse. I’m not too happy with my decision but still I’m at least able to enjoy life again.

    Thanks for listening.

  8. Sorry guys sounds awful. I just detoxed from Heroin….and I was on like 1 gram per day at the end. I had to wait 36 hours before I could take suboxone without feeling sick. I tried a 2mg piece at 20 hours and went into severe acute withdrawal. I’ve only taken suboxone for five days and have tapered to 1mg. I can go almost 12 hours without feeling anxious. I plan to jump pretty soon. Wish me luck. I have heard that taking sub in small periods like this is even better than several weeks. if this method is successful I will surely write back.

  9. guinevere

    July 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    David… best wishes when it comes time to jump. Where have you gotten your information about taking Suboxone in small periods? … Please do write back once you’re done and let us know how it goes.

  10. To nikki: GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!
    I jumped off Suboxone at 8mg/day for over 8 years of taking it!! Believe that one! I got into the program in 2004-2005? I do believe. And never looked backed just figured i would be on it forever. Until five days ago when I wanted sobriety more than anything. I still want that sobriety tmw marks day six and I am still chugging along. Its getting easier I still wear out real easy but I believe in GOD and the Holy Spirit that dwells within me and thats how I am able to get up every day. I will start running I hear that really helps. Thank you all for your encouraging words, especially nikki, you bring tears of joy to my life.

  11. Withdrawing is actually not about “getting rid of the remnants of drugs still in our systems,” its not a true detox, its a misnomer. (If that were so, why do you only feel bad when the drugs AREN’T in your body?)

    Its actually about reregulating your endogenous opioid system, your body’s own opioids. The reason opioids give you a high is because they are similar to neurotransmitters that your brain uses. When you take them for a long time, your body thinks its producing too much, so it stops production and shuts off receptor sites. When you stop taking EXOgenous opioids (drugs), your body has very little, and its very painful. So its really about jumpstarting that system, and the ONLY way to do that is excercise, “runner’s high” is the result of a jolt of natural opioids for instance. I know its the LAST thing you want to do, but it WILL reduce the severity and length of your symptoms.

  12. Hey everyone, I am a male, 24 years old. I’m almost through day 1 of 0mg suboxone and it helps a whole lot to hear everyone’s story. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading posts on this website and many others, hoping that I can know exactly what to expect. I have been through withdrawal from heroin many times, but I have yet to successfully detox from subs. Just thought that maybe somebody either had advice or is currently detoxing right now.
    My opiate addiction pretty much started with heroin. Although I had abused many other pain killers, heroin is what really got me addicted to the point where I was using it on a daily basis. Ironically, I never IV-ed because, I’ll be honest, it sort of scares me. However, I was going down that road WAY too fast and I’m sure that if I kept using it for another year, I would be banging it.
    Anyways, I’ve been on dope for about 2 years and I started subs about a year ago. At my worst I was snorting about 25+ bags of dope per day, as well as a ton of cocaine over a 6 month period. The only real clean time i’ve had in 2 years is when I was in rehab (3 times) and the time on sub, but I’ve pretty much been on some opiate throughout the entire 2 years. I kept switching back and forth between subs and dope and different sub doctors. I have made alot of enemies and lost almost everything. Rock-bottom really sucks but I suppose I’m blessed to at least have a roof over my head—for now.
    I was on 4mg of sub for probably the last 2-3 months, but relapsed a hand full of times (maybe 15 times?) and usually had both opiates in my system most of that time. A dear friend of mine died recently because of heroin o-d and I think that’s what really put things in perspective. I mean, it’s not the first dead comrad, but it kept going through my head how much worse my behavior has been than his and how I should have been the one to o-d. I guess my powerful tolerance to opiates wouldn’t allow that to happen, but it made death seem so much more REAL.
    So, anyway here I am. I havn’t done any dope at all in exactly 14 days and before that, like another week. I picked back up at 4mg sub 13 days ago and tapered all the way down to 1/4mg (yesterday’s dose). It wasn’t as long as a taper as I had hoped but I’m tired of being on opiates and don’t want to get my script refilled. Besides that I’m broke with no job, very little weed and cigarettes left, and struggling to get my school work accomplished. It would really hurt the very little money I have left to purchase more subs, as I’m going to have to detox eventually anyway.
    Sorry for my long post, but I was hoping to provide detail in order to get some accurate feedback. Has anyone ever detoxed off sub over a 2-week period, beginning at 4mgs? My 1/4 mg dose was yesterday morning (Friday 7am), but I could feel the symptoms mildly coming on Wednesday night. It’s Saturday 7:30pm now and I feel much worse, but so far my only really annoying symptoms include irritability/malaise, sweats and chills, a little insomnia, mild runs, no motivation, and my achy legs are beginning to kick fairly hard. I do want to point out, though that this is NOTHING compared to detoxing from dope. If this is the worst of it, I think I can manage. What I’m afraid of is the long-ass half-life of bupe and whether or not it will be much worse for me by Monday when I need to somehow make it to school. I did essentially taper and I believe I gave myself enough time off dope to avoid withdrawing from it also. Just hoping for some feedback….it would really help. I’ve been planning this for weeks, taking vitamins, protein, working out, vitamin c, and walking a lot prior to this detox, and I’m still attempting to keep doing these things, but I really need some sincere advise from someone who has similar opiate-usage as me and who has made it through sub detox successfully. Please help!

  13. Im on day 8 from approx 5 years about 10mg a day , this is my second time getting off of these . Only thing I can suggest is careful planning , take a vacation, stock up on food ,tylenol , and ginger ale. Try to excercise and stay active . This has been absolute hell for me both times but I’m sticking to it this time for the fact that I’m so tired of depending on drugs to get through my life it almost becomes like breathing . By day 7 you’ll be able to start going places and visiting family . Trust me , I’ve looooooved my percocet and subs getting that extra boost you need to get through the 12hr day . but now I feel more confident, me and my girl get really freaky ( always loved sex but never was really in the mood to perform on subs) just do it for yourself and your future and your family I now realize I sometimes would take all I have for granite , I can see life a little more clear , I’m feeling ambitious again ,relationship is going much better . It seems like you have to completely re-train yourself how you use your hands, how you think, eyesight adjustments , its crazy . All I can tell you about ditching the high life is that now I feel like a human being for once and it feels nice . One Thing that always scared me was if I couldn’t get my hands on any , what the hell was I going to do ? It’s nice to have extra cash and not have to rely on things to move on in life . Subs are a miracle if your on drugs and want off but if you continue to take them longer than needed then your screwing yourself , tapering from 10mg to 2 mg in approx 3 months time helped me a lot.( compared to last time) . I’m not a pro writer or anything just a typical family man. Im always thinking of you making that jump you need to restart life and I wish nothing but the best for you , hang in there things will get much better when its over. Hope this helped , ( by the way i usually never have problems with going to sleep but in 8 days I’m lucky to have gotten 18 hrs of sleep , this sucks . Hoping to get regular sleep soon before I end up in a mental institution , no tips on this problem because it feels like I’ve tried everything and still sleeping like absolute crap. Going back to work tomorrow ( nice way to spend a weeks vacation huh?! Lol wish me luck , even though I know none of you I know what your going through but just hurry up and get it over with , you’ll one day have to face it its better to be prepared for it instead of surprised . Sorry this is soo long I’m just typing in my thoughts I figure if I can atleast reach out to a couple people and connect on that level then I’m glad …..keep your head up

  14. I’ll skip to my withdrawal diary:

    Day 1-3– not that bad, slept ok, felt a little weird

    Day 4– most acute withdrawal I have felt throughout this process but still not as bad as coming off of Oxycontin. Woke up in cold sweats, heart felt like it was hooked up to jumper cables, extreme fatigue, violent sneeze attacks, and the chills I got probably resembled turrets, insomnia. THIS DAY WAS BY FAR THE WORST.

    Day 5– worst part of Day 5 was fatigue. I could barely make it from the bed to the couch without taking a break. But, also can’t sleep.

    Day 6-10– about like Day 5^^ but not AS MUCH fatigue. still having cold sweats, chills, insomnia but I can deal.

    skip to DAY 14– Start to feel “normal”. sleeping about 8 hours, appetite is back (which i forgot to mention was non-existent from Day 4-Day 9.

    Don’t get excited just yet.. YOU WILL HAVE POST ACCUTE WITHDRAWALS.

    I think today is Day 18– I’m so happy that I have lost count (that is a good sign)!! my main problem now is fatigue and minor depression.

    HARSH ADVICE:

    -IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU DESERVE TO FEEL EVERY OUNCE OF DISCOMFORT. THIS IS YOUR FAULT AND IF IT WERE EASY YOU’D HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH TOO MUCH.

    – That being said, if you are used to coming off of the kind of pain pills that are “fun” like percs, oxy, hydros (like I am), RELAX. It is not as bad.

    – The taper method to a point is bullsh!^!…if you can get down to 8 mg a day, and aren’t some little wuss, go ahead and make the jump (IF YOU ARE READY!! I WAS READY!!!) no matter how low of a dose you get to, you WILL GO THROUGH WITHDRAWALS. I don’t care what your doctor says, they don’t even know what W/D feels like (just what the drug rep tells them).

    – get some whey protein powder, soup, and chilli for loss of appetite. Get some energy drinks, water, and Gatorade b/c you’ll need fluids (and energy). Get some over the counter pain pills like IB-Prophen, Imodium, and Tylenol PM.

    – Get some type of support system^^^this is KEY. (My best friend quit Subs the same time I did.)

    – As hard as it is, keep your sense of humor. STAY POSITIVE! When you get to a certain point, its now or never.

    -STAY OFF THE MESSAGE BOARDS IF POSSIBLE!! A lot of the way you feel IS your body, however a lot of it is in your mind and you don’t need some whiney little person that is on the verge of relapsing bc they can’t take the consequences of their own actions in the form of discomfort filling you’re head with “how bad it is to get off SUBOXONE”

    **This is a fight to get your life back. IF it were easy I would not have used the word FIGHT. I wait tables, work doubles, have a girlfriend, and a great family that counts on me. I had 50 8mg Suboxone strips in my sock drawer while I was going through this process. Throughout the last 18 days I haven’t missed a single shift at work or felt the need to give up and visit the sock drawer….DON’T BE A LITTLE PUNK! IF YOU WANT TO DO IT, DO IT!!

    LASTLY,
    I didn’t write this to offend anyone and I apologize if you read this and felt that way, I apologize but obviously you are not my target audience. I am writing this for the people out there like me that think of what you’ve done in the past and are disgusted, the people that are willing to walk through the fire in order to get back to normal (if there is such a thing).

    YOU!!!! Please just listen to what I have said in this post. It is going to be OK.^^^^

  15. Appreciate your willingness to share your experience. Thanks. As for jumping at 8mg, everyone’s physiology is different; there are virtually no real high-quality long-term studies about getting off bupe after being at 8+mg for years, so all we have is anecdotal evidence, and all the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen so far suggests that it’s extremely difficult to jump from 8mg. Glad it worked for you. Come back in a year and tell us how it’s going.

    Be aware that not everyone is going to be on the same page with the level of shame and “disgust” about addiction that you evidence. One purpose of this blog is to help counter the shame-based stigma that tells addicts it’s our fault that we’re sick, we “deserve” everything we get, etc. In my experience there’s a difference between taking responsibility for my actions/making right what I’d made wrong, and choosing behaviors out of shame and self-disgust. Thank God that today I no longer have to fall into the latter pothole. But again, if it keeps you sober, then it keeps you sober. It doesn’t work for me.

  16. 19jacquelyn81

    March 7, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Hi I’ve been looking everywhere on the internet for a answer and there all different this actually makes more sence to me. I had surgery and became addicted to painkillers which brought me to subutex and had been taking it everyday about 2 mgs a day for 6 months anyways I don’t want to be addicted anymore and chose to stop it was absolutely horrible especially the 5th and 6th day I couldn’t get comfortable achyness absolutely no energy I got to day 13 with the help of lortabs just a few of them days to ease the pain now on my 13th day I kind of lost hope cause one day it gets a little better then its bad again so I took a quarter or 2mgs so now I’m mad at myself cause I basically gotta start all over again I just couldn’t believe how long it lasted and I had things I needed to do and I couldn’t get off the coutch I hope it don’t take as long now I gotta start all over I just wish I knew how long before I get my energy back and can get comfortable

  17. hi i did herion for 5 years i did ten bags a day I quit cold turkey all i had was some weed it help a little i did not trow up no more and eat sleep weed does help more then what people think trust me. a dr in california tell me to but felt sick for 21 day no sleep so i been clean for 5 years i pick up perks like 60-90mg a day now i got it down to evey weekend someone give me 2 sud so i been taking eveyday for 10 days like 1mg a day i have one day lelf it help me alot but i hope i do not get sick

  18. Giant41meadow

    April 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Suboxone lowered my testosterone levels drastically. I tried to quit but was as tired on day 30 as I was on day 3. I had to have injections to bring my levels up which increased energy and stamina and I just quit .5 mg Suboxone again 24 days ago and while I’m feeling some fatigue and other symptoms of PAWS, I feel like I will succeed this time.

  19. PeaceloveAnMusic

    April 12, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Guest your so right on in my eyes. I believe everyone has to eventually funnel into this strong and ready breathing deep and heavy warrior essence in order to take on this fight. I would STRONGLY suggest people doing what guest says, and adding if at all possible a weekly hour massage. Acupuncture works wonders as well. If you cannot afford it, ask any significant other to massage you, but be careful when doing this cause they only wanna hear it so many times. I feel like i have revealed all my “ways” of using opi’s( of obtaining them) and have backed myself into a corner purposefully. Pray to the elder spirits for the strength if you feel you are weak. The best way to regulate body temperature is to be in a warmer climate if possible. I’ve been up and down 8 years and i just turned 25. No way to live. I will be taking a life excursion to new mex. colorado, cali, so forth to try and combat the psychological dependance i have culminated. Almost 100% of my personality is reliant on opiates. I dont have them and its as if i am a barren naked child with no way. Worse than i could even imagine myself, at every turn something else is worse. So, yeah, strength and support. Support is not easy to come by for me, probably like a lot of addicts i have burnt out my support base. Tried so many time to clean up and now all the people that helped back then dont care to know now. DONT WAIT . KICK IT NOW. It only get’s worse on the mental part. You are losing your mind and cant even feel it. STOP. NOW. Please for the worlds sake.

  20. Danielosborn123

    April 17, 2012 at 3:34 am

    I didnt have any acute withdrawls, this is what I did. I did get a few paws however. First off you need a good taper plan, I started at 24mgs, quickly dropped to 8mgs and over two week periods, or when my body adjust I would reduce the amout by 25%. So 25% of 8 would be 6mgs. I did this until I got to 1mg, then I reduced the amount by 10% for two weeks or until I felt stabalized. I was on suboxone for nearly a year, it was hard to get past 4mgs and .5mgs but I managed to get to .25mgs when I jumped for the second time. No major withdrawals, no flu x100, it was like jumpimg off the curb rather than a 5 story window.

    You will need clonodine, klonopin(if u dont have a prob with it already and dont use more than one week, I didnt use it at all), multivitamins, amino acids and pleny of fluid, u may need imodium, I didnt.

    I jumped at 4mgs once, bad idea, withdrawal hell for over 8 days and had to get back on. Follow my taper plan and I promise its so easy, you can get to .25 or lower with no problems.

  21. Danielosborn123

    April 20, 2012 at 2:00 am

    You tapered really fast so youre going to feel like shit for a week or two, I posted above how to avoid withdrawals completely. Get some clonodine and a good benzo for a week or two and ride it out and stop relapsing. By day 30 you will be 100%

  22. Both clonidine and benzodiazepines have to be used with care. Clonidine is a blood-pressure reducer and must be used with a cuff to monitor blood pressure. I personally wouldn’t recommend using benzos during an opioid detox, even from Suboxone: benzos are an invitation to another enormous monkey. Xanax and Klonopin are some of the most frequently abused drugs in the U.S. and if you think opioid withdrawal is no fun, try a benzo detox. For those detoxing from opioids, check out the following site for useful information and sharing: http://www.heroin-detox.com. /G

  23. I have been off 3 8mg tabs a day for about 5 or 6 months. I was so tired of not being able to have sex, s**t, pee etc. so I just quit about 3 weeks ago and I am still so so sick the first couple weeks were tolerable but now it hurts so much I can barly get out of bed. I called my doctor and he gave me some clonidine which has helped greatly I am taken .1mg up to 6 times a day and Advil or aleve nothing truly helps I went to a Chinese doctor and he told me time medicine is all. My dr who perscribed me the suboxone told me that it was a safe med don’t worry about it he says and took my $100.00 and wrote my script. Subs I believe are the worst possible drug to detox from I should have sucked it up when I decided to get of the oxys and detoxed in a treatment center for 3 to 5 days. Rather than go though all this bs. Crazy if you can stay off the subs ita been a long hard road and I hope tomorrow is a better day than today as I don’t know truly how much more I can take.

  24. I was put on suboxone in 2005. I was taking 24 mg per day for 7 years!! I was never told about tapering and was told that some people have to be on this medication for life. As long as I took it I felt fine and did not do my homework on this drug. We lost our insurance and my doctor was no longer interested in treating me without 200 a month cash then 562 dollars a month for the subs. I was forced to jump at 24mg dose in Dec 2011.. I thought I was going to die!! For 2 weeks I couls not eat sleep or do anything I was so sick I stayed in the shower.. the anxiety was brutal and the restless leg syndrome was too much to bare!! After 2 months I felt a little better I forced myself to walk as far as I could and started to feel better. This was almost seven months ago and while most symptoms are better I am still suffering from major fatigue no sex drive major depressive disorder insomnia not able to concentrate I was wondering if anybody knows if it gets better or have I altered my chemistry for life???

  25. I Just started my journey and this is day 5 for me… I’m tired.. feel sort of off…but the info on this page and the great way you broke down the process made it a little easier to deal with…. thank you…

  26. I’ve been reading everyone’s posts on opiate detox& sub detox. This has to be the best blog I’ve seen…. So I’d like to get to MY point of being here.
    I started on subs about 2 months ago. I stayed on them for about a month, then decided on my own that I wanted off of it all. I ended up jumping off 4 mg subs to nothing. At first, it seemed like a piece of cake. To sum it up, it’s been almost a month and a half and I feel like I’m dying. It takes absolutely everything I have to just make it through a day. I have no energy, little motivation to stay active because I hurt so bad, the nonstop sweats, chills, sensiblity to hot and cold temps, and havnt slept worth shit for now a few weeks. Not even taking an ambien, muscle relaxer and clonopin works. I’ll take them all together, adding each one more over time and they don’t even touch me. Why do I feel so horrible when it’s been this long?! I havnt taken anything besides xtra strength Tylenol and motrin for pain and even had the rest of my subs left to take but I chose to put mind over matter and defeat it. Now I’m beginning to lose hope. I can’t control my emotions. I cry all the time. I have many responsibilities, including two little boys to raise on my own. Im a 32 year old single mom wanting my life back! So I called to go back to the sub clinic in a couple days, and I feel cheated. I’ve made it this far, how much worse will it get? I want my life back and do not want to be dependent on this stuff anymore; but I just can’t stand to feel this horrible anymore either. The go between to my sub dr says I did it too fast and should’ve tapered down then stopped, then at that point he said they give vivitral? I just wonder what I should do? I’ve already been looking for opitates bc my brain is telling me I can’t do it. Aaaand btw, I have a little to zero support system. But I’m very strong willed. I just want someone to tell me how much longer this crap is going to linger?? Any advice would be so appreciated!!

  27. I can identify with everything I just read (above and below). I ” quick tapered” (16 mg to 0 in about a week and was miserable for weeks after. I’m in favor of not prolonging the agony (the outside doc suggested a 1 year taper! Like sure! I can be trusted holding a box of 30 16mg films ?)

    I gotten clean twice. 1st in 2006 ( after turning to bentos because, as Guenevere noted, Suboxone does nothing about the resultant feelings). I don’t plan on going out agin, the consequences got so much worse the second time, but if I could do it all over again, I’d go cold turkey. Feel the pain. Flu like symptoms, GI upset, the works. I need to remember that this is where that first pill takes me.

    And as far as support, I don’t see how you arrest addiction without the steps. I prefer NA and even ifnyouremon Suboxone, technically you’re not clean, but we will help you kick. If the old times could kick dope on a friends couch, I think most people can put it down, go to a meeting, share about it, get some encouragement, tap into a HP, and let the brain heal and be restored naturally.

    Lovin your page btw Gwen. Always something useful. Feel like I just went to a meeting!

    <3. Glen in NY

  28. Suboxone Withdrawl Does End.
    I took percs for 2 years. Then I took
    Suboxone for 2 years. I decided that
    the suboxone was no longer giving
    me energy. I lost all interest in life.
    Nothing mattered accept my child.
    I would have taken my life, but I know
    my child needs me. I used because antidepressants don’t work for me. In
    fact, the have an adverse effect.
    I jumped off Subs at 8mgs. I took percs 10 mg 2x per day to relieve my pain.
    I thought I was off scot free. On day 6 I felt like it hit the fan. I was in withdrawl.
    It wasn’t as bad as opiate withdrawl. It was a lot milder. I was very very weak, had chills, and a minor stomach ache.
    On night 9, I felt slightly better. On day 10, I felt I had taken the turn for the better and went to work. On day 11, I was in the clear. It is a mental mind game. Just keep going. It’s not that bad.
    After 10 rough days I am free. I feel great. I even have energy because From day 1 of my detox I took Fish oil, Salmon Oil, and the Omega Fatty Acid which help replenish your natural brain chemistry. I also took Sam-E and a multivitamin. Go for it! This releases you from PAWS/ or post acute withdrawl.

    I decided to stop taking subs because they were no longer effective. Days 1-3 I felt a little tired, but pretty normal. I took 10 mg’s of Percocets 2x per day to ward off withdrawals. It seemed to be working.
    Then on day 6, it hit the fan. I was very weak, had the chills, the trots, this lasted until night 9. Then on day 10, I was still weak, but I went to work. I had a stomach ach, but I could tell I was turning the corner. On day 11 I felt very much so back to normal. I forgot what normal felt like. It was amazing to be free again. Withdrawl is nothing more than a mind game. You have to just keep telling yourself just 1 more day and it will ease up even more. At times I wondered if I could do it. But trust me, it’s way easier than detoxing off of poppy tea, or percs. I am now on day 12. I feel totally normal. My mind feels better than ever. The trick to healing quick is this. Loading up on Sam-E, Fish Oil, and Salmon Oil, and CLA from GNC. These all contain Omega Fatty Acids, which your brain uses to build off of and start reproducing norpenephrine, and epinephrine, dopamine, and your brains natural opiates in Lehmans terms. I also took a multivitamin, and drank a lot of water. I took several liver cleansing pills from the Vita shoppe. Suboxone withdrawl is not that bad! I read all the posts and was scared to quit. I jumped off at 8mgs per day. I should have tapered. But I wanted to be done with it. You can do it too. Just be sure to take Omega fatty acids so your brain can stop the PAWS from setting in too long. I feel wonderful!

  29. I WANT YOU as support!!! I love how you are blunt! If you want this bad enough and are done you can do it!!!

  30. Question So you took percs to help with the withdrawal?

  31. Monello_lil_momma

    July 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I have been reading SO many articles on Suboxone detox & just reading alone has given me anxiety attacks! I’ve been addicted to many different types of opiates all the way down to eating disorders… All my doctors tell me is I have an addictive personality!
    I was taking 2 8mg/2mg a day for probably the first year, and down to 1 8mg/2mg films a day.
    As of 4 days ago I’ve been taking just a CORNER piece of a film… Smaller than a grain of rice- and at the end of the week I’ll be taking NONE. I’ve handled the mild ” withdraw” by taking shower baths, drinking plenty of water && staying active with my kids. My assumption is that once I stop taking the ‘ grain of rice’ piece that my withdraws won’t even exsist… That’s what I’m hoping! I’ve felt blue & weird for the past 4 days, but NOTHING I can’t handle… I felt like I was dying just within my FIRST day of detox off Vicodin… This is MUCH easier!
    So basically to anyone who REALLY wants to kick the habit all together– having little to no or maybe worst of the worst withdraws… IT’S WORTH IT! To live clean & healthy again… Im all for it. You HAVE to want this though… We chose to do what we did and we can’t blame our actions on anyone else, son step up, face reality, get clean && live HEALTHY!!

  32. Monello_lil_momma

    July 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I have 8mg/2mg films and I’m down to taking the size of a grain of rice for 4 days now, just to keep it a little in my system… Next week I plan to stop taking it all together, you think the nastiness I’ve felt for 4 days now is probably as bad as its going to get?
    I was taking 2 8mg/2mg a day down to 1 then down to half then down to 1/4 an now down to a rice grain size piece…

  33. regardless what your coming off of.. or how much u were taking..clonodine is okay to help blood pressure, i would not recommend benzos as to me it seems like it delays the process.. and i ended up getting addicted to the benzos every time and then coming off of them was just as bad. by 2 weeks you’ll be feeling good.. its just getting to that point which is the challenge.

  34. Danielosborn1234

    July 18, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Well im not sure exactly how many mgs youre taking, get to at least .5mgs, preferably .25mgs and it wont be bad. Alot of it is in the head. Just be prepared for paws. Ive been off subs for around 3 months.

  35. Danielosborn1234

    July 18, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Youre sufferimg from paws. Post acute wd. You will get better with time, you jumped at a very high dose so its going to take longer than normal.

  36. Danielosborn1234

    July 18, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Check out suboxforum.com, its a huge support group and literally saved my ass. Theres a lot of people on there that can help you. Its free so dont think im trying to sell it, just one addict helping another. Quitting subs was one of the hardest things ive done.

  37. Thanks for being here and sharing your experience with folks trying to get off bupe. There are a number of forums out there; the one that saved my ass was Opiate Detox Recovery (www.heroin-detox.com). It’s run by a Harvard-educated physician who has no interest in promoting himself or his business—he just wants people to get free. Please visit ODR. The URL is “heroin-detox” but it’s for people having problems with all kinds of opiates.

  38. Dickscroatballsweeny

    July 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve been through this game 8 or so times and every time is different. Once i was back to normal in 4 days and barely felt any withdrawal. Another time i went through 2 weeks of hell and 2 more months of depression, no sleep and fatigue. Point is don’t call others a P**sy if they can’t do it. Some people need help. And some people have much more brutal withdrawals. I’m now stuck in the same boat again due to surgery and i tried fighting. I lost. Anymore fighting and i would have put a bullet in my head to end the pain. Now I’m going for help. To a detox place. Not a therapy “talk about my feelings” crap. I’m going to have this crap medically removed from my body and done! I know it’ll be hard but i can’t do it alone.

  39. Monello_lil_momma

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Thankyou! I’ve been off them for 16 days now and I feel GREAT! Day 9 I was admitted to ER and was pumped with 3 bags of fluid… But this detox was NOTHING like I thought or read about. I hyped myself up and caused my own panic attacks… In reality — I did amazing && your right, it’s all mental and how you can handle things!

  40. Your body needs time to recycle the old receptors and make new ones. It is said there is a 90 day period from old to new. Your old receptors are beat to hell and have no more sensitivity. Your news ones are under construction as we speak. You have to keep hope bc it will be better. Your mind is tricking you. You tricked your mind all this time and u are getting a taste of it. I know what u r going thru. Andrew-cincinnasty ohio

  41. Michael Ross8517

    August 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I have been on suboxone for a month and yes it has decreased my sex drive as well. I was having sex like 5x a wk to doing that monthly if my wife is lucky. I am seeking alternatives and other options as well. I think it is all of our duty to extend ourselves as much in going out of our way to satisfy our mate as we did in looking for our next “High”! Just my opinion and my new course of action.(Ross)…

  42. what a terrific post.. omg the web has so much ridiculous stuff out there on the subject. i have been tapering off 24mg of suboxone over past 4months or so. getting down to 2mg is pretty easy for me that is. I had a hard time when i tapered lower especially when i just said frigg it i will just stop at .375mg i got bad w/d symptoms so i am at .2 now and getting better with little discomfort .. i wake up in the night at least once but take clonodine .1 and go back to sleep. I just hope when i’m down to .125 and stop it isn’t more that a week but i know all about paws and am doing everything from exercising 2x day, taking gnc vitamins, eating healthy (still smoke that is next) so hopefully it won’t be all too long for i have little patience. i also just got 9months clean and go everyday to na helps so much~ support is huge.. my bf doses me cuz i would probably draw it out way to long at the slightest symptom. Try to keep a sense of humor my friends. I’ve withdrawn from subs like 3x from rehab and they jump you after 4days no matter what dose. So i am grateful today i am not having to go that route. But if you are addicted to other drugs/alcohol i recommend the safe environment. Good luck my peeps out there strugglin’

  43. In the last 4 weeks I went from 4 mg to 2 mg. to 1 mg now that I’m at
    3/4 of a 2 mg I’m starting to feel symptoms of withdrawal. I’m taking
    Wellbutrin to help well a little I’m going through a divorce and I have
    A special needs child. I really need to be free from sub I forgot to mention that’s what I’m taking. I went to pain management for about
    5 yrs to treat nerve damage in my neck I got sucked in to 3 hydros a day sometimes more. I wanted to see if 3/4 of 2 mg is far enough down to jump because I already feel horrible or should I get a little
    Lower. I appreciate any and all comments.

  44. So, here is my story. 26 year old male
    I was on Subutex for 1.5 years.
    I became tired of taking the nasty thing, so I just stopped at 6mg
    The strategy I used was as follows…..
    I waited as long as I could and then gave myself a really low dose opiate.
    Went exactly 13 days cold turkey off Subutex, No acute WD.
    I did experience what I guess is PAWS, but it was more annoying than anything.
    Day 13 I gave myself one 5mg Vicodin in the morn and one at night.
    Did this for a week. from day 13 to day 20
    Day 21, the third week I cut that dose in half.
    Took 2.5 mg Vicodin in the morning and one at night.
    Week 4 and I am currently still taking a half a Vicodin in the morn, and a half at night.
    I would say I feel pretty good, I know my strategy may be stupid to some but its working.
    Exercise is something I just recently started, and I get a huge rush from it. This actually completely takes away what little aches and pains I get since quitting subutex. It lasts for about half a day. Im not working so Its a little hard to keep distracted.
    Everyone is different, and I know with moral certainty that some of this IS in your head and some of it simply is not. If you have a negative expectation you will most likely have a negative experience. Your body and mind need time to heal.
    Taking half a Vicodin in the morning and at night, takes away about 20% of the PAWS for me. My tolerance has dropped so much that I sometimes feel nausea from the half a Vicodin.
    I will eventually take nothing.
    This strategy came to me from watching a video from a very successful detox clinic in Florida ran by a very young and smart doctor named Dr. Steven Scalan
    This doctor was hooked on Fentanyl while in Med school, switched to Suboxone and then got off the suboxone. He now has a clinic that’s system for taking a person off of Suboxone consists of a low dose opiate, “Darvon” Vitamins, Clonidine, sleep meds and MEETINGS !!!!
    They have a very high success rate.
    So this is what planted the Idea in my head to use the strategy I am, it takes discipline because the vicodin is like shooting BB’s at an asteroid in the beginning. The fact that such a low dose Opiate is helping is proof my body is repairing itself slowly but surely.
    Be patient with yourself and Fight the good fight.

  45. Thanks for your story–congratulations on getting off bupe. I hope the Vicodin thing works to your satisfaction. I wouldn’t call it “stupid,” I would just say that for some of us who got to the place where we could not exercise will over opioid intake, it simply might not work. … For more about Steve Scanlan, please see my interview: http://guineveregetssober.com/suboxone-amazing-detox-tool-monster-maintenance-drug/ … please check back and let us know how it goes. /G

  46. What do you mean by, “some of us who got to the place where we could not exercise will over opioid intake?”

  47. I posted my experience and strategy getting off subutex, however I want to share a friends story since I have his permission. Its interesting !
    This guy is a Veteran like me, we were both in the VA Subutex program.
    He got on subutex because he was concerned about his liver. He was taking handfuls of Vicodin to kill back pain and get high.
    The VA, for reasons I will never understand put him on 32mg’s a day.
    two 8mg tabs in the morn and two 8mg tabs at night…..i know crazy
    Well it gets crazier… He was on this dose for about the same length of time as me
    1.5 years
    He went on Vacation, got to the country he was visiting and realized….no Suboxone!
    Spent the whole 2 weeks there and had a blast.
    He did so well when he came back to the VA he insisted he stay off of the drug.
    No one in group believed his story, we thought he must have took something.
    Our Doctor didn’t even believe it.
    Week goes by, with permission from the patient the clinic ran some tests.
    Blood work to be exact since urine can be manipulated. That Friday we are all in group and sure enough doctor confirms, this guy is not on any Opiates, and the amount of Subutex in his blood just shy of 3 weeks was almost non existent.
    How this guy stopped at 32mgs a day after 1.5 years is a mystery, sure there is always the possibility that we were fed false information but I genuinely believe it.
    Is it really that hard to believe ?
    I got to day 13 with hardly any symptoms.
    The mind does this amazing thing of protecting you when it knows there are no options left.
    I think it was Einstein that said, “Never underestimate mans ability to elevate his life through conscious endeavor.”
    and just like the U.S. Army says, “soldiers that whine the most cry the loudest, don’t worry about a soldier until he STOPS bitching”
    All I’m saying, is reading your guys HORROR Stories was the hardest part for me.
    Once I got into the woods I realized it wasn’t that bad.

  48. I mean that some of us could not take one Vicodin in the morning and one at night, or one-half in the morning and one-half at night… Some of us lost the power to control our intake like that.

  49. Amazing story. Never heard of someone who jumped at 32mg. (Also very interesting that the VA thought he needed to be on that high of a dose. Little science behind it, if I understand correctly: the body’s ability to benefit from bupe’s opioid-blocking effects maxes out at less than that.) … I also believe in the power of the mind and appreciate the Einstein quotation. Two caveats, imo: 1. Not everyone is at the level of empowerment/development that they can trust the mind to do that kind of work; 2. Quite simply, not everyone has your experience: physiology and psychology differ dramatically from person to person. I don’t minimize your experience; why minimize/distrust anyone else’s? peace /G

  50. oh I see, I have an amazing wife, In the beginning she dispensed them to me. But the whole time I never wanted more, I just would get achy and get impatient with the progress. Ironic how we abuse meds that we could potentially need one day. 1/3 people will battle cancer I read somewhere which is crazy. I tell myself this is just training for chemo…lol I learned to suck up a great deal in the Army, The way I see it, Ive been clean more than 97.5% of my life. So thats who I really am. But I am a hyper guy and hate waiting 😉 you seem like a very intelligent person. My question for you, (keep in mind DR Scalans suboxone detox method) is do you think taking a low dose opiate twice a day will stunt my progress? I feel so good I think Im gonna just take half a 5mg vicodin at night to battle the aches and pains that disrupt my sleep? Do you think I can still recover with this discipline ?

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