What are buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms?

Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms are flu-like in nature and are similar to those of other opioids, both psychological and physical. Learn more about buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms here.

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Typically, buprenorphine is used to help the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. It is subscribed by doctors to help ease the physical symptoms of withdrawal for those who have become severely addicted to other opioids, such as heroin.

However, because buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist and can cause euphoric effect, abuse and addiction are also possible. If you need to withdraw from buprenorphine, what can you expect during buprenorphine withdrawal syndrome? We review here and invite your questions about buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms and possible symptoms of Suboxone addiction at the end.

Why do buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms occur?

Withdrawal is a normal process wherein the body seeks homeostasis after a period of chronic drug use. It is a phase when the body “rebounds” and then normalizes within a few days. Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms occur when you become physically dependent on buprenorphine. Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms occur when you abruptly stop taking the medication or lower dosage significantly.

What are symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal?

The symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal are similar to those of other opiate and opioid (man-made synthetic) drugs like heroin, oxycodone, or methadone. Although they are typically milder, symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal can be uncomfortable and disruptive. When withdrawing from buprenorphine, symptoms that may occur include:

  • anxiety
  • body aches
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sleeping habits
  • cold sweats
  • flu-like symptoms
  • headaches
  • mood swings
  • nausea
  • pupil dilation
  • restlessness
  • runny nose
  • shedding tears (lacrimation)

These symptoms can vary in intensity depending on past use. The more mg buprenorphine you take over longer periods of time, the more severe the withdrawal. Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms usually peak 2-5 days after the last dose but can persist for a week or two. It is always important to consult a doctor when withdrawing from buprenorphine in order to assess your personal needs during withdrawal and to make sure you are withdrawing safely from the drug.  Plus, if you’ve been taking Suboxone to get high, you’ll need to address the psychological cravings and compulsions to prevent relapse into abuse.

Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms: How long?

Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as you miss one dose of buprenorphine. You will begin to feel mild symptoms at first, and symptoms typically peak in severity 2 – 5 days into buprenorphine withdrawal. Depending on the severity of chemical dependence, buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of weeks, to months following your final dosage. The symptoms that tend to last the longest are the psychological symptoms of dependence on buprenorphine. Seeking treatment for cravings using psychotherapy or intense behavioral therapy can reduce those symptoms over time. Untreated, psychological symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal can last for a long period of time, even after other symptoms have subsided.

Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms treatment

There are several options available to you for treating buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms. The first is to taper, or slowly reduce doses of buprenorphine, over the course of several weeks. Secondly, you can use a combination of NSAIDs and home therapies to treat symptomatic discomfort. Massages, hot baths, and rest can help. If needed, you can seek treatment from a detox clinic for more severe symptoms such as diahrrea, nausea, and/or anxiety.

Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms questions

Still have questions about buprenorphine withdrawal? Please leave your questions below. We’ll do our best to answer you personally and promptly.

SAMHSA: About buprenorphine
SAMHSA: Buprenorphine facts
SAMHSA: Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction, Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 40.
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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