Depending on where you are in your opioid addiction recovery, tapering off Suboxone could be a beneficial plan for you. However, there are other possibilities as well that could be safer or better for you. It all depends on where you are in your recovery and what you require from your treatment.
Benefits of Tapering Off Suboxone
If you have been on Suboxone for several weeks or months and become stabilized on the drug, you may be considering tapering off your dosage until you no longer need the medication. This can be a safe way to stop taking Suboxone and to end your dependence on the drug. If you do decide to taper off your dosage, it is extremely important that you consult your doctor and decide on a tapering plan with them that is safe for your needs.
Many individuals feel like they are moving forward in their recovery when they begin to taper off Suboxone; feeling independent of the need for drugs can change a person’s outlook and make them feel good about working toward a future where they will not need to take medication daily. In addition, tapering is a tried-and-true method that, when done under the care of a doctor, is safe, effective, and much less dangerous than quitting Suboxone use suddenly.
Maintenance: The Alternative to Tapering
Maintenance is another possible plan that can be better for certain individuals. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, medically supervised withdrawal, or a tapering schedule set by your doctor, is the alternative to the maintenance phase. “The maintenance phase is reached when the patient is doing well on a steady dose of buprenorphine/naloxone [or Suboxone]. The length of time of the maintenance phase is individualized for each patient and may be indefinite.”
The patient is maintained on Suboxone in order to minimize withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and allow them to focus on their addiction treatment and recovery. As stated, someone could decide to stay in the maintenance phase for a specific period of time or indefinitely if necessary. Similar to methadone maintenance, Suboxone maintenance allows patients to take the medication that minimizes the troublesome physical and psychological symptoms drug abusers experience in recovery so they can focus on the other aspects of their life.
Maintenance vs. Tapering
The choice between the two treatment types should all come down to where you are in your recovery. If you are currently stabilized on Suboxone and no longer experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms or cravings, you are likely ready to choose between one phase and the other. But it is important to understand a few aspects of these two treatment methods.
- The maintenance phase can be ended at any time. If you have been maintained on Suboxone for several weeks, months, or a longer period and you decide you finally want to begin tapering off the drug, you can talk to your doctor about creating a taper schedule. Choosing maintenance does not mean that you have to stay on the medication indefinitely but that you have decided to maintain your body’s needs due to its dependence on opioids with the Suboxone so you can focus on your recovery. If you do decide to taper off the drug, you can do so, or you can stay on Suboxone maintenance.
- Tapering off Suboxone can be a difficult and uncomfortable process. If you do not feel strong enough in your recovery, it could cause you to have thoughts of relapse, so it is important that you wait to taper until you are ready.
- If you feel that changes need to be made in your tapering schedule, you must speak to your doctor before changing your dosage amount in any way. For example, if you decide that you should be taking higher dosages of Suboxone than your current taper schedule allows, you must not change your dosage without your doctor’s approval.
Both treatments should be taken seriously, and dosages should not be changed without a doctor’s consent. There are rules you must follow for both treatment methods, and when you decide to start one, you should try to stick with it because abandoning the method could cause you to experience severe side effects or withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone is a prescription drug, and it should always be taken safely and at the dosage recommended by a doctor.
Should I Choose Suboxone Tapering?
According to the National Library of Medicine, “Your doctor will tell you when and how to stop taking” Suboxone, but if you believe that you are ready to start your tapering schedule, it is important to discuss it with them. You may be ready to be tapered off Suboxone if your recovery is going well and you have become stabilized on the medication.
Ask yourself the questions below to find out if tapering off Suboxone is the best plan for you.
- Have I been on Suboxone for several weeks or longer?
- Has my use of Suboxone been free of any incidents for the past few weeks or longer?
- Am I in a form of addiction therapy or counseling, whether individual, group, or family-based?
- Is my recovery going well?
- Have their been improvements in both my recovery and my life in general since starting Suboxone?
- Do I have a support system I know will be there for me if my tapering phase becomes difficult?
- Do I feel that I no longer need Suboxone to help me avoid the abuse of opioid drugs?
- Am I feeling healthy both physically and mentally?
- Do I feel comfortable with my doctor and ready to talk to them about the possibility of tapering my Suboxone dosage?
If you answered yes to the questions above, tapering off Suboxone in a medically assisted withdrawal phase seems to be a good choice for your next phase of treatment and recovery. Remember to discuss this with your doctor, though, and to avoid tapering the medication yourself, as this can possibly become extremely dangerous.
Want to Know if Tapering is the Best Plan for You?
If you would like to talk someone about the possibility of tapering and whether or not it is your best option, call us today at 800-533-1341 (Who Answers?) to speak to a Suboxone drug abuse counselor.