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Should You Avoid a Three-Day Suboxone Detox?

What should you do if you are referred to a program that offers a three-day Suboxone detox? Many hospitals and clinics around the country accept patients who are referred to them for detox from certain drugs or alcohol and they provide a limited three-day detox from Suboxone. Some doctors frown on the three-day detox, but the decision whether to go into such a program may not be so cut and dried.

Many medication-assisted treatment programs have a waiting list and they cannot always admit you immediately into their programs to begin treatment. Such programs require you to have proof opiate abuse of at least one year. You may also be asked to detox from alcohol or benzodiazepines before you can begin either methadone or Suboxone detox treatment. It can be fatal to take methadone or Suboxone if you already have alcohol or benzodiazepines in your system. For those reasons they often refer clients to a short-term detox program involving the administration of Suboxone.

The problem is that a short-term, three-day Suboxone detox will not be effective if you cannot follow it up with participation in a full treatment regimen. Without follow-up of a three-day Suboxone detox with additional opiate antagonist therapy (OAT), relapse is a likely possibility.

Neither Suboxone detox or long-term Suboxone therapy will be successful without long-term medical supervision and counseling. The guidelines established by the federal government require opiate treatment centers to include counseling as part of the therapy they offer. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) does not believe that opiate addiction treatment is successful without counseling services, and the federal government’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) specifies the same under Title 42, Part 8.

There is no easy answer to the question of whether you should avoid a three-day Suboxone detox. You are limited to two such detoxes per year under CFR 42, so consider wisely what your plan of action will be as you wait to begin Suboxone therapy.

Nobody can tell you as a patient which route to choose. You might want to ask if you can begin methadone treatment with an agreed-upon plan to switch to Suboxone detox or therapy as space in the Suboxone program becomes available.

Seeking Drugs or Suboxone Detox?

Many treatment providers will tell you that there are people who show up for medication-assisted treatment, asking specifically about Suboxone detox, who are just looking for another way to get opiate drugs. They do not understand that buprenorphine, one of the two generic drugs contained in Suboxone, acts as a partial opiate agonist. There is a limit to any euphoria you might expect to feel from it. Moreover, the brand-name Suboxone medication also contains naloxone, which will block the effects of any other opiates you may have taken.

Precipitated withdrawal occurs when you have opiates in your system and you take buprenorphine. It will block the receptors in your brain from responding to the opiates that you previously took and throw you into an immediate and very unpleasant withdrawal.

DAWN Reports on Emergency Room Buprenorphine-Related Visits

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) compiles statistics drug related emergency room visits throughout the nation. Emergency room visits involving buprenorphine increased a thousand percent between 2003 and 2010, and they now exceed 30,000 visits per year. In those cases, the buprenorphine was a direct cause of the visit or it was a contributing factor.

Of the 30,000 visits, 24 percent of the people served were seeking Suboxone detox or treatment services. Another 13 percent had taken Suboxone or buprenorphine and had an adverse reaction, most often because they took it with opiates, benzodiazepines, or alcohol. Over 50 percent of buprenorphine-related visits involved nonmedical use of other drugs. There was another small percentage of visits attributed to people who took it as part of a suicide attempt and others who ingested it accidentally.

Unfortunately, 86 percent of those seen in emergency departments failed to obtain follow-up treatment or Suboxone detox, even though 41 percent of those who did not seek follow-up initiated their emergency department visit seeking Suboxone detox or therapy. This is a signifier that many of the people who need opiate addiction therapy waiver in their determination to get help, or they just don’t know where to go for that help.

Buying Suboxone on the Street

It’s not difficult to find Suboxone on the street. Many people cannot afford to pay the costs of Suboxone detox or treatment since it is more expensive than methadone. They are willing to sell some of their medication on the street so that they can afford their treatment.

You should be aware that obtaining buprenorphine in any way other than by prescription from your physician poses a great danger to yourself, not to mention has legal implications. Suboxone can cause dizziness and confusion. Some people, especially asthmatics, experience decreased respiratory function. Long-term Suboxone detox or therapy can affect your liver. You should also avoid Suboxone if you have Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, or gallbladder problems. It’s important to take Suboxone only under the care of a physician who will monitor you carefully.

Direct Your Questions to a Professional

This page addresses some of the questions that people have about Suboxone detox while they are considering therapy or if they are referred for a three-day detox. It cannot take the place of a heart-to-heart discussion with a physician who is qualified to prescribe buprenorphine including both generic and brand-name formulations. Contact your local medication-assisted treatment center and ask for an appointment so that you can have that sit-down discussion with a substance abuse treatment professional. They are ready and waiting to answer all your questions.


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