Available Options for Opiate Detox

Opiate detox can be very challenging. Many people who try to quit on their wind up relapsing because withdrawal symptoms and cravings can feel very overwhelming. For some people, just the fear of cravings and withdrawal is enough to keep them using.

The effective treatment and caring support offered at Cedar Point can help anyone stop using heroin and other opiates and get clean. But for people who are fearful of cravings and withdrawal, there are medical detox options that can help soften the effects of withdrawal. These options include buprenorphine, Suboxone®, and Subutex®. (Suboxone® and Subutex® both contain buprenorphine).

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a “semi-synthetic” opioid medication that has been around since the 1980s, when it was marketed for acute pain.

Buprenorphine works to treat opiate/opioid addiction because, when taken as prescribed, it reduces the symptoms of withdrawal while at the same time blocking the effect of other opiates/opioids.

Buprenorphine releases compounds in the brain like heroin and other opiates/opioids, but causes less euphoria and less of a risk of physical dependence or misuse compared to drugs like heroin.

Buprenorphine also lasts a long time in the brain, unlike many other opiates/opioids, which reduces cravings and helps clients get through withdrawal more gently.

In addition to buprenorphine, Suboxone® and Subutex® also contain Naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid ‘antagonist’ that actually displaces opioids from the receptors in the brain, making it very difficult to abuse the drugs.

What Is Buprenorphine Treatment?

When buprenorphine therapy is chosen for opiate detox, a patient is allowed to enter the beginning stages of withdrawal before the first dose is administered.

Buprenorphine can actually “displace” other opiates/opioids from the receptors in the brain. If the treatment begins before withdrawal starts, taking the buprenorphine can trigger a sudden and severe onset of withdrawal symptoms. By allowing withdrawal to begin, the transition to buprenorphine can be made as gently as possible.

The treating doctor will determine how long a patient remains on buprenorphine.

Is There Withdrawal After Buprenorphine?

Yes. There are withdrawal symptoms after taking buprenorphine for an extended period. However, symptoms are much milder than “cold-turkey” withdrawal from heroin and other opiates/opioids. Withdrawal symptoms typically include:

  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Watery eyes
  • Irritability
  • Stomach cramps/diarrhea

What To Do Before Using Buprenorphine During Opiate Detox:

Patients should advise their doctors of their most recent narcotics use, and any of the following:

  • allergy to buprenorphine
  • kidney or liver problems
  • constipation/bowel conditions
  • respiration problems (asthma, apnea, sleep apnea, COPD)
  • low blood pressure
  • gallbladder disease
  • seizures
  • brain tumors
  • thyroid or adrenal gland problems
  • epilepsy
  • pregnancy or breast-feeding
  • muscle weakness
  • head injury
  • enlarged prostate or urination problems
  • history of mental illness or psychosis
  • HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis (B or C)