How long should I stay on Suboxone?

I have posted a poll on Subox Forum with the question, how long do you plan to take Suboxone?  My stance is that since opiate addiction is a life-long disorder, treatment must be life-long as well;  once addicted to opiates a person has several options:  take a buprenorphine product, take methadone, go to meetings regularly for life, or… prison or death.  I have met many opiate addicts and have not yet met one who did not take one of these paths.

Regarding Suboxone, I am curious about the experiences out there.  What has your doc told you to do?  What do you plan to do?  In your part of the world is buprenorphine used for short-term, for long-term, or do you have a choice in the matter?

I invite people to reply to the poll, and to post if you have other thoughts on the topic– or about any other topic related to opiates or Suboxone.  You must register, but feel free to use an alias, and of course it is free.

Thanks– I will be in touch with the results!

JJ

http://suboxforum.com

http://suboxonetalkzone.com

http://wisconsinopiates.com

http://dsm-v.com

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About jjunig

Psychiatrist in solo practice with additional training and experience in pain treatment, anesthesia, and neurochemistry.
This entry was posted in addiction, buprenorphine, methadone, opiate, suboxone and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to How long should I stay on Suboxone?

  1. missy says:

    my doctor told me he would keep me on up till 1 year which will be next month i’m scared to death to get off for the simple fact that i know i will be able to use.I feel safe on the suboxen i know that i cant use on it. I dont know if i want to be on it for the rest of my life but i know i’m not ready to get off not. it has been a god send in my life i know i could not have got off without it i tried i would probly be dead right know if it was’nt for the suboxen i have got a lot of bullshit for being on it some counselers i have gone to belive you are not clean as long as you are still on it but this is the most normal i ahve felt and been in a long time and it saved my life. not sure what i’m going to do next month but will deal with it.

    • Matty says:

      Just curios how did it go with your getting off subs I’ve been on the strips for a year can’t get past one half more than 24 hours without feeling the crawlies Mattymurph99@hotmail. Com

  2. freudian55 says:

    I don’t understand what doctors are thinking when they place arbitrary time limits on Suboxone. If anyone has ever heard an explanation of why it makes sense to set a time limit, I would be interested in hearing it– the only reason I have heard is because ‘that’s long enought’. Long enough for what?

    As for the comments of a counselor, I will address that in a new posting.

    Thank you for writing– if you are close by, I am taking a few new patients this month. I can also see people by ‘tele-psychiatry’, particularly those who are already stable on Suboxone. If you are interested you can contact me through my web site:

    http://wisconsinopiates.com

    • Heather Vauter says:

      I have been on suboxone since april 2010…i found out that i was pregnant a few months later and my doc switched me to subutex, which from what i understand is the same drug but minus the naloxone. He did this because he felt it was safer for the baby. He still has me on the subutex rather than suboxone because i am still nursing. I dont notice any difference between the two other than the taste, the subutex doesnt have the aweful taste the suboxone has. I also did get headaches after i would take a dose with the suboxone tablets and i never do with the subutex. I am very comfortable with my dose and i am terrified of the day when my doc tells me he wants to start to taper me off of it. I have been clean and sober for almost 2 years now and i feel great. I still go to my meeting regularly. I meet with my sponsor twice a week and do step work, i even have people at meeting who ask for my help and advice and i have been asked to be a sponsor from a few newcomers. I dont feel that i am ready to take that responsibility on but AA and NA are such huge fellowships there is always someone to call and help you if you have a problem. I feel that suboxone is a miracle drug and between all of the other steps i take to protect my recovery and this medication i finally feel like a person again. I have a family and a nice home of my own, a healthy relationship with my partner, i am on good terms with my parents who didn’t talk to me at all for almost 4 years while i was using. My life has completely turned around and i am so greatful to be living my life. But i know sometime my doc is going to want to wean me off and i feel very troubled by that. I dont know id i expect to take this medicine for the rest of my life but i know that i am not emotionally ready to make any big changes. I have had such success in the treatment program that i chose and i just do not feel that i am ready or will be anytime soon to change any of it

      • Ja says:

        Heather I am in the same boat (but without a baby). Congrats by the way. I am terrified of loosing my job. I am down to only one 8mg which I have cut into 8 tiny pieces and taking 1 every day. I tried skipping a day and thought I was going to die. I don’t know what to do.
        Ja

      • Brad says:

        Heather. I am just starting suboxone. I still feell pretty bad. All i think about is getting high. How long did it take u to start feeling normal again? I baught my boxins off of the streets and dnt kno too much about em. I have taken em in the past a couple times but that only lasts a couple days and i go bak to getting high. I fuckd off everything i had so its serious time for me to leave all that junk alone. Any help u have would be great. Thnx

      • Brian K says:

        being on any opiate could put your baby in withdrawal, this is the one time i can honestly say you’re a pretty shitty mother

      • freudian55 says:

        Pretty judgemental attitude… most of the people who have read or commented here know that there are the lives we plan, and then there are the lives we actually live. Every single person who uses is hurting someone— some more than others— not just the mothers! http://suboxonetalkzone.com/withdrawal-in-newborns-lay-off-the-guilt-trip/

  3. Lisa Fraley says:

    i have been taking suboxone since July 27th 2006…a little over 2 years. I has worked great for me. My doctors theory is this…’if it ain’t broken we won’t try to fix it, broken is what you were when you first stepped foot into my office’… i have no plan to get off of it anytime in the near future…i have worked very hard, i attend meetings regularly and my recovery is very strong…i am very active in Narcotics Anonymous. the only thing that scares me is that my doctor is older…not to say he wont outlive me, but it is a concern.

  4. ron says:

    I UNDERSTAND THAT AFTER BEING ON A DRUG WHAT EVER IT IS FOR A LONG TIME IT’S HARD TO LET GO. IT’S LIKE A SECURITY BLANKET OR LIKE ME I WON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT MY MEDS COMING WITH ME. I TAKE SUBOXONE AND HAVE NOTICE THAT IT REALLY HELPS ME WITH MY DEPRESSION AS WELL AS MY SMALL DRUG PROBLEM. I WAS TAKING 10MG PERKS FOUR TIMES A DAY FOR MY BACK AND THEN AFTER 2 YEARS I FOUND MYSELF ADDICTED TO THEM. I FIRST STARTED OUT WITH 5 MG 4 TIMES A DAY AND THEN AFTER CLOSE TO A YEAR I FOUND THAT I NEEDED MORE AND THAT’S WHEN I WENT UP TO 10 MG 4 TIMES A DAY.WHEN I DIDN’T TAKE ONE I WOULD FEEL VERY DEPRESSED AND THIS WENT ON FOR ABOUT 4 YEARS WHICH SUDDENLY A FRIEND SAID RON YOU HAVE TO GO TRY THIS NEW PILL CALLED SUBOXONE YOU WILL THANK ME AFTER YOU GO SO I WENT NOT EXPECTING ANY CHANGES BUT WOW! I TOOK A SMALL CHIP OFF AN 8MG. AND I FELT LIKE I WAS REBORN AGAIN. I WENT BACK TO MY FRIEND AND SAID THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH IT WAS A MIRACLE. I SUFFERED FROM DEPRESSION A GREAT PART OF MY LIFE AND HAD TRIED EVERYTHING BUT THERE WASN’T NOTHING THAT REALLY TOOK OFF LIKE THE SUBOXONE DID. SO I WENT TO MY DR. AND SHE SAID THAT PEOPLE ARE TAKING SUBOXONE FOR DEPRESSION SO SHE UPED MY DOSAGE TO 2MG 3 TIMES A DAY AND GUESS WHAT IT WORKS. THE ONLY THING I DON’T KNOW IS THAT AFTER A WHILE DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE MORE OF IT LIKE THE PAIN KILLERS OR DOES THE DOSAGE STAY THE SAME. THAT IS WHAT I DON’T KNOW IF IT IS ADDICTING BECAUSE IT DOES HAVE PAINKILLER IN IT.BUT FOR NOW IT’S GREAT I AM UP AND DOING MORE THINGS INSTEAD OF SLEEPING OR JUST SITTING THERE. IF YOU HAVE AN ANSWER TO MY QUESTION I WOULD LOVE TO HERE FROM YOU.
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME IN LISTENING!
    RON

  5. Trasub says:

    I started on the suboxone in Feb 08 to get off the opiates. It worked very well for me, I lost 20 pounds while on it, got very active, and above all was the happiest I had been in a long time. After 7 months of taking 32 mgs a day I had to wean off it b/c I had no more insurance and it was very expensive. I tried to wean the best I could and the end of Oct was it for me. I was down to taking 2 mgs a day then completely stopped b/c I ran out of suboxone. About 3 days after I stopped taking it completely I started withdrawling from the suboxone. I was getting the chills, I felt weak, I had this nervous feeling in my stomach which was very annoying and caused me to not be able to sleep. Once that began I started doing research on suboxone withdrawls and people were basically saying that depending how long you were taking the drug that would depend on how long you withdrawled b/c suboxone stays in your system for a long time. So what did I do.. did get rid of the withdrawel feeling I was getting I started taking the opiates again. Then eventually got addicted to those again. What I have noticed works with the suboxone is if you take it for about 10-14 days long enough for the opiates to get out of your system and stop taking the suboxone you wont get sick and you will be successfully detoxed from opiates. Now the hardest part is staying away from the opiates. I am now on my 3rd day of the suboxone treatment again, I am only taking 1 pill a day and by the 10th day I am going to take 1/2 a day. I will stop at 14 days and stay completely away from the opiates by keeping busy, working out, and most of all living a NORMAL life. I am also planning on attending NA classes for support. I will keep you all posted and to everyone else doing the same.. GOODLUCK TO ALL OF YOU!!

  6. cyndi says:

    I am on my second round of subox and this is what I found: the 8 mg most Dr s start people On is too high. In Europe and places where this drug originated they start at 2 mg or 4 at the most. My Dr wanted me on it for 3 months. After I researched it I decided that was too long and the 8 mg is too high. I started on 4 mgs for 4 days, 2 mgs for 4 days, 1 mg for four days, .5 mg for 4 days. .5 mg ever three days. For 3 rotations. Then stopped. Most problem I had was stomach issues that Imodium took care of. I’m off with no issues.

    • freudian55 says:

      The main thing is to maintain a blood level of buprenorphine that is above the ‘ceiling effect’ threshold throughout the dosing cycle. Any amount above that is ‘extra’. Some people need more than others though, depending on how quickly they metabolize buprenorphine, use of other medications that interfere with metabolism of buprenorphine, etc.

      As for stopping quickly, I wish you the best with that. The standard of care has changed, in recognition that over 90% of those who are on bupe for less than a year only end up relapsing after stopping it. The most appropriate treatment in my opinion is to stay on it, perhaps for years— just as people stay on medications for other medical illnesses. Given the death rate from opioid dependence it always surprises me how many people expect it to just ‘go away’ after a few months on buprenorphine!

  7. splinter0545 says:

    i have been on sobox for two years and i think that i am on it for too long but i am scared to take myself off of it. my doc is a complete asshole i dont think he even knows what i was on before i started the sobux. i have heard different opions on how long to take it some say 14 days some say 1 year and my doc says he thinks i will be on it the rest of my life. so i dont no. thanks for listening hopefully i helped someone.

  8. Samiam says:

    I was on percs for 5 months and then roxy 30s for 2 1/2 bout 5 a day. 11 days ago I started on subs at 16 mg for 4 days and have droped 2 mg each day scince today I’m at 1mg day 11 and feel good. My plan is to keep going down for 2 more days till nothing. Anyone have any comments if I did this right or am I just setting my self up to crash? Any help would be greatful. Thanks

  9. Brandon says:

    Hello friends, and enemies alike. I have 17 years of soul crushing heroin addiction under my belt thus far. Methadone has helped me get things “under control” from time to time, but it seems to keep that monkey on my back, which ultimately leads me back to square one….-Heroin use!
    I have become very interested in the possibility of suboxone as a new & improved option. I even went to a doc & began the process. Perhaps I metabolize my opiates differently than most, but I have not experienced the “relief” that I hear so much about. Several attempts now & I am growing a bit discouraged. Perhaps I am taking it too soon. Usually I wait 24 hours minimum.
    Upon taking my first dose I still get all the pains of withdrawal…..-Even worse. Then I start trying to shoot enough dope to fix this problem. It’s a stupid & vicious cycle. How sick do I truly need to be to take this med the first time. Heroin is killing me & I need some useful advice that comes from experienced junkies who know the ropes. Please help a discouraged addict to better understand & hopefully get a grip on this mess.

    • James Reid says:

      Brandon,
      I dont know if you will ever see this of if your life has gotten better. I hope so. Im not going to get into my addiction, except to say I have been there done that. I hate opiates. I believe your problem is that you are taking methadone. Methadone is a synthetic opiate that stays in your system for a long time. It has a 24 hour half life. So if you take 60mg on monday at 8am… on tuesday at 8am you will have 30mg in your system. So basiclly you are not waiting long enough to give suboxone a try. All the opiates need to be out of your opiate receptors before you take suboxone. If you take it too early and still have opiates in you receptors… Suboxone has a stronger affinity for the receptors.. they kick out all the opiates you have left and put you in precipitated withdrawls. Depending on how much methadone you take.. you need to wait at leats 36 hours… maybe more before you take a suboxone. It will work if used properly.

      Good luck my friend.

  10. rancidben says:

    @Brandon: Wow you have allot of time under your belt living with this. I myself am 26 and have been an addict for around 6 years now. Like most I started on the small stuff due to a knee injury that wasn’t even that bad. My doctor was giving me tab 10’s left and right. I was popping them like skittles. Then I moved on to bigger and more scary things… OC 80’s, 100 mg morphine pills, Fentanyl, ect, ect, ect. I lost my wife, house, personal possessions, EVERYTHING. I hit rock bottom my friends. I was living in a crap apartment and just sick of living day to day WONDERING if I was going to be able to get my next fix and I say fix because at this point I wasn’t even getting high anymore… and then how long that would last me and so forth. Sick of it all and knowing that I have loved ones that were more than willing to help I picked up the phone and called for help. I have been on Buprenorphine for around 8 months now. The drug is great but now that I am clean in a manner of speaking all of the sh*t that I have caused in my life has come over me like a tidal wave. I am no longer NUMB so to speak… I now realize how much I truly lost and THAT has been the worst part of all this. I have wanted to die, end my life, send me to hell, just didn’t care. I am still working my way through all this and it is NOT easy. I HATE people that say things like your substituting one drug for another ect. They just don’t understand what this cancer is really like… and it is just that CANCER. It spreads and takes over all areas of your life. If you think you have control then your in for a rude awakening cause the cancer will continue to spread UNTIL you get help.
    Now let me talk a little bit more about Buprenorphine. My doctor started me on three 8mg pills a day. I decided that was to much so went down to two 8mg pills a day. I am now down to 1 1/2 pills a day and have been for about 3 months. I don’t plan on going down ANYMORE atleast not any time soon. I know when I will be ready and now is not that time. My life is in such distress that I would relapse for sure if I tried to stop. For those of you looking to get off… wait until your 100% SURE because if you don’t you WILL relapse. You have to be in a really good place in your life to stop and that can take YEARS which is to be expected after everything one may have lost during their addiction. As for Brandon… regular dose is not right for everyone. You may need more or even less. It just all depends on your body chemistry as the doc said. Don’t give up and try the generic version of Suboxone called Subutex. The only diff between the 2 is Suboxone contains an added ingredient called Naloxone where as Subutex just has Buprenorphine. The only reason I say to try Subutex is because I have heard some people say that they feel diff or better on the one over the other. Why I have no clue but it can’t hurt to try that’s for sure. Now before the question gets asked the only thing that Naloxone does is keep one from shooting the drug. It some how sends one into full withdrawal if IV’d. Buprenorphine is the ingredient that blocks all the other opiates… not Naloxone.
    Neway good luck and god bless all who are going through this.

  11. wood says:

    I have been on suboxone for 2 years. I take 3 =8mg a day. This medicine has turned my life around! I was addicted to oxycontin,I snorted oc’s daily for 5 years. Toward the end of my addiction I would snort 8 to 9 80mg a day ! I weigh 118lbs! I was skeptical about the suboxone,but I am glad my Dr talked me into it. I could possibly take it the rest of my life,which is fine with me,because it works!!!!!

  12. hec says:

    Im about to take suboxone because im down to 3 oxycodone 30mg pills every day one every 6 -8 hours but I dont take more than 2 or three, actually i was taking one a day last week this week i up my dose , but i regret it, so tomorrow im going to start taking suboxone 2mg in the morning 2mg of suboxone at night, the next day im going to take 2mg then the following day another 2mg, then try to cut that to 1 or 1.5 then lower to 1 then .5 then .5 then quit! Ive done it before, take aleve for your pain withdrawl, a daily vitamin, melatonin for the shakes and to get sleep, cold and flu tylenol for cold chills fever etc and make sure you KEEP YOURSELF ACTIVE, youre body doesnt have time to think about the pain when youre ACTIVE, believe me, workout go for a jog, find a JOB, do something, keep yourself busy talk to old friends and hey tell them your story and get motivated with the right people, who arent USING, STOP TALKING TO THOSE TYPES OF PEOPLE and please DONT SHOOT UP because then youre going to have the WORSE WITHDRAWLS, thank GOD< I NEVER SHOT UP….GOOD LUCK- USMC MARINE, btw I have 4 herniated disks, 4 buldging disks, Degenerative disk desease, and pinched nerves, doctors say YOU MUST BE IN PAIN, i go YEA, but so are millions of other people and theyre not taking these drugs…

    • Kel says:

      good for you… u are most definitely in pain.. but you dont take painkillers anymore!! ur right, many other people are in pain and dont take pills… i envy you! good luck!!

      -Kel.

  13. Kristy says:

    I have been on Suboxen for 6 months. I see my doctor once a month for him to prescribe me a 30 day supply. Every month he collects $500 cash from me just for him to prescribe the Suboxen. I then spend $350 at the pharmacy to fill a 30 day supply (60 pills). This is making me go broke! I have no health insurance, but my doctor told me health insurance will not assist in covering the visits or prescriptions. Is there any financial help out there for Suboxen? Is it normal for a doctor to charge $500 cash a month to prescribe Suboxen?
    Thanks for any help anyone can give me!

    • Whitney says:

      NOOOOOO! not normal…This doc is ripping you off. i live in wisconsin, see my doc once a month and it’s 110. shop around, google suboxone docs in your area. 500 seems like alot.

    • JChilly says:

      You are TOTALLY getting ripped off! It’s horrible how a doctor can take advantage of someone’s disease! Whitney is right, you should shop around for doctors. I know if you go onto Suboxone.com you can put in your zip and find doctors that way. Or just google it.

      • Lily says:

        Kristy this doctor is a thief !!!! I go every month and pay 80 , that’s insane. Look for someone else ask how much is the initial visit and the monthly visits. That should be illegal .

    • Matty says:

      Yes Medicare will cover it so will medicade.’dr millne in ft lauderdale charges 110 a visit plus if u don’t have insurance it’s a class 4 drug so u can break the script up 6 times it helps. Mattymurph99@hotmail.com

    • Bill says:

      WOAH!!! That’s not right at all… There’s gotta be some insurance you can pay for that will cover that to where you’re not paying so much for the visit and for the scrip… I actually just made the choice to quit vicodin after 2 years taking 15 or so 750’s a day, and started taking suboxone today. I found a doc from the suboxone website and he happened to also be a family doctor (best way to do it in my opinion) so I switched my insurance plan to him as my primary care doctor and went to see him. My copay was $15 for the visit, and my scrip was (no joke) $4.00 for a 30 day supply AND some anxiety meds. Now, I know I’ve got good insurance with my company, and the price I paid is next to nothing compared to what some people pay, but you should be able to find an insurance plan even if it is $150 a month and still come out a lot cheaper after paying that, along with the visit and scrip charges. I wish you the best… and Subs are literally the best thing thats ever happened to me. Just finished my first day and holy cow was I ever impressed with how well they worked. It was like I was a kid again, I was so motivated and was just down to do anything at all! usually I’m all motivated for the first hour on viks, and then just mopey and stupid for the next 4 hours till I took another handfull. These things are a life saver! I just hope I don’t need them forever…

    • Kristy LeTeff says:

      My husband has been on suboxone on and off for a couple years now. When he didn’t have insurance, he applied for a grant through the company that makes the drug. He was able to prove financial hardship from paying for the Rx, and was granted a one year treatment (for free) from the company that makes suboxone. He got the paperwork from his doctor. Your doctor should have this paperwork also, and is lying if he says otherwise. It is a requirement for docs that can prescribe the drug to offer this to patients. However, I think they can only have one patient at a time on the program. I think that your doc is ripping you off big time and you should try to find a new doctor. $500 for a doctor visit is highway robbery and unheard of. My husband was only paying $50 for his office visits for suboxone, and that was also without insurance.

  14. Ja says:

    I have been on buprenorphine for 1.5 years and I have tapered down to 2mg’s a day. I tried to get off cold turkey and it was hell (putting it mildly). My doc will not give me anymore, but there is another doc there who believes in lifelong therapy with sbx. I cannot deal with this anymore. I became addicted to painkillers after 2 neck surgeries and now i am addicted to sbx. If one little piece of a pill makes me feel normal, then why can’t i just take it for life like i do with my antidepressant? I feel deserted by my doc. All i know is that i can not go through this again. Up for promotion at work. Of i am cut off i can loose my job because i know i will not be able to function. This other doc came through for me the last time i tried to quit but he works under my doc and i don’t know if he will do it again. I am so scared……Ja

  15. Matty says:

    Hey Ja bro I feel for u I do the main key to suboxone really working right and getting off quick even though this isn’t ur situation . When your coming off your last amount of blues regardless the amount you want to wait as long as u physically can. Before u jump on the subs . Feeling the worst side effects from withdrawal of the blues could be to your benefit any where longer than 24 hours if u can .then what ever amount of subs u were ordered to start will work like wonders as if ur never felt what a roxi felt like. Then even if u took 8 blues or 40 blues a day u would surely need to take3 at once for the real high amounts but with in 3 months u can have that knocked to 1 strip and half by the 4 then a1/4 every other day by the fifth month when you think ur ready to stop don’t be alarmed if y feel some minor withdrawal it shouldn’t last more than 12 hours and that’s schould be a 3 in a 1 to 10 scale.then ask the doc about klonopin 1mill it helps the edge and will knock out the the years of Xanax it worked for me but it may or may not work for u chances it will well good luck I’ve been off subs for 4 months u got my strength memory willpower and my depressiinus 75%gone that takes time but I imhappy Good luck JA you’ll be all right

  16. Sara says:

    I am amazed to find out that I am not the only one out their, I have been on Subutex for 2 years now, and subutex because I had a baby when I started taking this. I see a doctor out of Milwaukee and thought he was great. He was strict but that was okay with me seeing as I never gave him a reason not to trust me and always have been a star patient, Well, a couple months ago when I came in for my regular appointment he tells me, “Sara, its been two years now and suboxone is a bridge to get from one place to another and that’s it, so you need to start thinking about weaning off” The next month I brought my husband to the appointment with me and explained that I was using for 8 years and I felt like I haven’t been in this spot long enough and didn’t feel ready to get off yet or start tapering and he basically tells my husband and I that he has a two year cap on his patients and he will take me off no matter what I think. Okay, now what? so I call around for a new doctor and to my surprise no one in my area prescribed subutex or they just don’t want to (maybe they get a kick back from the pharmecutical company?) So I am now backed in to another corner with my choices being A-taper off when I am not ready or B- switch to suboxone with I cant afford and gives me horrible headaches. is it ever possible to get treatment without it being compromised????? Can you ever feel secure idefinatley?

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