If you’re on it, you’re probably on a long-term maintenance plan, which can extend anywhere from 6 months to 2+ years. For many, that period is about building coping mechanisms, working to improve mental health, and improving the life skills you need to live a happy and healthy life without drugs.
If you feel like you’re ready to get off suboxone, there are definitely ways to do that. However, it should always start by involving medical professionals.
Sometimes it’s the right time to quit suboxone, sometimes it’s not. Here, it’s important to remember that Suboxone is a prescription medication. It’s safe to use it for the duration of the prescription, in accordance with the prescription. Many people decide to try to quit suboxone early in their treatment, not because they’re ready, but because there’s a lot of stigma around using a drug to recover from an addiction. You might be hearing things like “you’re not really clean” or “you’ve just swapped one addiction for another”. That stigma can be insidious, but you shouldn’t let it get in the way of you’re working towards a full recovery.
Suboxone or buprenorphine is something like a crutch. You use it to help you with your recovery until you’ve healed and are well enough to continue without it. You wouldn’t not use a crutch because it means you’re not really recovering from a broken leg. You shouldn’t do that with maintenance medications either.
You might be ready to quit your Suboxone prescription if you’ve completed your rehab program and you’re 6-12 months into successful aftercare and recovery, if you consistently attend self-help group meetings like NA or AA, if you find yourself enjoying life and look forward to your days, you’ve completed the steps of your original recovery plan, you’re continuously working on behavioral health and problems highlighted by therapy, and you’ve successfully completed the original term you were recommended to be on Suboxone.
That’s a lot of conditions. However, getting off of Suboxone will take time, effort, and it will make you vulnerable to relapse. It’s important that your headspace is in the right place, that you’ve built up the support networks and behavioral support you need to stay clean and sober, and that you’re actively participating in the treatment that will keep you in recovery.
If you’re planning to quit Suboxone, it’s important to talk to your doctor and your counselors. Discuss any negative symptoms you might be having. You might also want to discuss your reasoning for quitting as well as the reasons you think you’re ready. Your doctors might not agree with your decision. In this case, it’s highly recommended that you actually stop and consider whether they’re right or not.
At the same time, asking for a tapering program is often a good idea because otherwise you might be left on Suboxone for years. It’s not unusual for maintenance programs to continue near indefinitely. Therefore, if you think you’re ready, you should ask.
Suboxone is dependence inducing, just like other opioids. If you try to quit it all at once or go cold turkey, you will experience significant withdrawal symptoms and you will be vulnerable to relapse. A tapering program allows you to slowly cut down on your dosage over time, so that you slowly get off the drug. That normally means halving your dose every 2-4 weeks – until you’re taking so little that you can easily quit it with barely any side effects.
At the same time, it’s important to ensure you have medical monitoring during this point. Any form of withdrawal, even a tapering program, causes changes and discomfort. You will experience some withdrawal symptoms, You’ll also be more vulnerable to relapse than at any point since before going on Suboxone. Having a medical professional to check up on you, to respond in case of severe symptoms, and to hold you accountable for your recovery can be important for your ongoing recovery.
In some cases, you might have a rapid tapering schedule instead of a long one. Here, the doctors will taper your dose by cutting it in half every few days or about every week. This aligns with the primary withdrawal symptoms starting to reduce – which means your body has adjusted to the reduced dose.
It’s important that your suboxone tapering program include medical and mental health monitoring. Here, it’s a good idea to continue visits to your therapist or counselor. You might also want to touch base with your rehab facility or a halfway house to get extra support during the process. For example, some people prefer to move into a sober house to ensure they get support during the tapering program and that they minimize the possibility of relapse as much as possible. Not everyone needs this extra level of support, however, everyone should have basic monitoring, checkups every few days, and the option to at least call a sponsor or counselor if things get bad.
If you think you’re ready to quit Suboxone, you might be right. Asking your doctor and anyone involved with giving you the prescription is a great first step. From there, it’s also important to take steps to continue your aftercare, to continue therapy, and to hold yourself accountable for staying on track. Suboxone is a crutch, moving on without it could be more challenging than you think. If you’re ready to quit, you’ve built up the tools to help you through those challenges. But, at the same time, it’s important to make sure you can still recognize when and if you need help.
That means being ready to reach out to a therapist, it means continuing to go to groups, it means being ready to go back into rehab if you slip up, and it means being honest with yourself and your friends. Getting off suboxone is one step in your journey to recovery, it’s not the end of the journey. Hopefully, you now have everything you need to continue that journey without medication assistance. Good luck quitting suboxone.
Asana Recovery provides a full continuum of highly effective drug rehab and alcohol rehab programs. If you have questions for yourself, or your loved one, contact us today to speak in complete confidence with one of our experienced and caring addiction treatment team.