Suboxone Use | Opiate Detox

For Opiate Detox

Most people familiar with Suboxone are aware of its use as a maintenance drug for opiate addiction.  Because it prevents opiate users opiate detoxfrom getting the euphoric effects of their opiate-based drug of choice, Suboxone can be effective at cutting down opiate abuse when used in this manner.  What many people don’t know, however,  is that Suboxone is also for used opiate detox in addiction treatment.  When used correctly during opiate detox Suboxone can help eliminate almost all opiate withdrawal symptoms for drugs like Vicodin, heroin, morphine, Norco, Oxycontin/Oxycodone, and others.

Phases of Opiate Detox

During opiate detox, Suboxone is administered in 3 phases to lessen the debilitating withdrawal from opiates.  They are the induction phase, the stabilization phase, and the titration phase of the opiate detox.  Prior to the induction phase of the detox treatment, it is critical that the addict’s withdrawal symptoms are monitored regularly.  If Suboxone is administered prior to the onset of withdrawals during the opiate detox, then the addict can go into what is called precipitated withdrawals which can make their opiate detox worse than if they were kicking their drug of choice cold turkey.  To prevent this, addict’s withdrawal levels are checked regularly during the first day or two of their opiate detox before the induction phase is started.  Assessment tools like the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) are available that ensure the addict’s withdrawal symptoms are severe enough prior to the first dose of Suboxone in detox treatment.

Once the addict’s withdrawal symptoms are determined to be severe enough to begin their opiate detox with Suboxone, they will begin the induction phase.  During this phase of the opiate detox the addict will have taken their last dose of their drug of choice, and Suboxone is slowly substituted for it with gradually increasing doses that prevent the onset of more severe withdrawals.  During this phase of the opiate detox the addict’s vital signs and physical well being are monitored regularly to see how their system is acclimating to Suboxone.

Once safely acclimated to Suboxone during their opiate detox, the stabilization period occurs.  This phase of the opiate detox will last several days to a week or more depending on the drug of choice, usage history, and other physical attributes of the person going through opiate detox.  During this phase the addict’s drug of choice leaves their system, and the Suboxone replaces it.  After the stabilization phase of the opiate detox the amount of Suboxone provided to the addict will be titrated down daily until it gets to zero.

Why Suboxone for Opiate Detox?

There are two characteristics of Suboxone that make it so useful for opiate detox.  In low doses (induction phase) it acts as a partial opiate agonist suppressing pain (like that experienced during opiate withdrawals).  In higher doses (stabilization phase), it blocks the opioid receptors in  the brain suppressing withdrawals and cravings.  By administering the proper dose of Suboxone during an opiate detox the onset of opiate withdrawals (pain, anxiety, cold sweats, etc.) can be suppressed.  Other medications may also be administered to address opiate withdrawal symptoms like nausea.   Once stabilized during their opiate detox, the addict’s body is given the chance to detox from their drug of choice and ultimately the Suboxone as well.

When the opiate detox is done, the addict will be completely drug free.  At this point they will be ready to move into additional addiction treatment with a clear mind.

Although Suboxone is approved for maintenance treatment (the addict stays on the drug after stabilization), Pathways Recovery only uses Suboxone for opiate detox.  Our philosophy is that the goal of recovery is to be completely drug free, but at the same time we believe that making an addict’s opiate detox as safe and as comfortable as possible will provide the best odds of them finishing their detox and moving into long-term recovery.

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