Should You Get Off Suboxone ?
Suboxone (buprenorphine) treatment is always individualized. I find it interesting the number of patients who have come to my office with a long history of narcotic addiction first ask how fast can they both get on and then off the Suboxone medication. Most are wanting to get off Suboxone within the first one to three months. When patients initially see me, they are in a highly motivated to quit using heroin or other narcotics. They are usually motivated to quit because of family, legal, or work problems. They have heard that starting Suboxone is easy. This is what usually happens:
- I first tell them that I have never seen someone with a true addiction quit in this period of time (and stay quit)
- They they tell me they want to be off in 1-3 months
- We get them on suboxone and they do great the first month
- They start trying to taper themselves with or without my instruction
- There is some stress at work or with family or there is a temptation to use.
- They relapse
- We are back to square one.
Hopefully during this process the patient has not lost their job, had a spouse leave them, or gotten into more legal trouble. Unfortunately, one usually happens and that is how we end up discussing getting back on Suboxone. The above process is so common that I usually say not to get off suboxone. There are some people who can have short term treatment, but they usually are not “addicts.”
What I Tell My Patients About Getting off Suboxone:
I don’t like to even consider stopping Suboxone use until I see the following:
- A minimum of one year of treatment.
- No other drug or alcohol use. This includes marijuana and mind altering prescriptions (xanax). I want them to quit tobacco products.
- Stable employment
- Stable family
- No longer hanging around others using illicit drugs
- Not experiencing cravings for narcotics or drugs
- Having documented clean drug screens
- Having attended office appointments without excessive cancellations
- Having shown internal progress through a 12 step program or profession therapist
As you can see, this is a tall order. With 95 out of 100 addicts relapsing on narcotics, this risk of stopping treatment are simply too high. In fact, I encourage long term treatment and not getting off suboxone for many patients.
To Discuss Getting On or Off Suboxone with a Suboxone Doctor Near You:
If you feel you need help and are looking for a doctor who prescribes Suboxone, click here for our buprenophine physician registry. If you think you may need more intensive treatment such a methadone detox, other opioid detox, or getting started on buprenorphine inpatient, click here for our state opioid treatment center registry.