Buprenorphine (Suboxone) Treatment for Addiction

Buprenorphine is an FDA approved medication for treatment of opioid and opiate dependence. Buprenorphine can be used for detoxification or for longer-term maintenance therapy. Maintenance therapy can continue as long as medically necessary.

The use of buprenorphine for detoxification from opioids is a Best Practice in addiction treatment. Our buprenorphine-certified physician monitors individuals who are withdrawing from opioids and prescribes buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex) if appropriate and the client wishes to use it.

The form of buprenorphine most often used at Pacific Ridge (Suboxone) is a combination of buprenorphine with a short acting opiate blocker (Naloxone). If the Suboxone tablet was dissolved and injected by someone taking heroin or another strong opiate, it would cause severe opiate withdrawal, but taken as directed can significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms.

The goal for the use of buprenorphine in treatment is to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids, reduce cravings, and help people stay in treatment. Without the use of buprenorphine, opioid-addicted residents have a much harder time going through withdrawal and often leave treatment because of their discomfort and cravings.

Buprenorphine itself is an opioid, but it is not as strong an opiate as the drugs that are commonly misused, such as heroin or morphine. It is important to note that buprenorphine treatment can result in physical dependence of the opiate type. Buprenorphine withdrawal is generally less intense than with heroin or methadone. If buprenorphine is suddenly discontinued, some patients have no withdrawal symptoms; others have symptoms such as muscle aches, stomach cramps, or diarrhea lasting several days. To minimize the possibility of opiate withdrawal symptoms, buprenorphine should be discontinued gradually,

At Pacific Ridge, we use Suboxone combined with counseling and education groups to assist with an opioid-addicted person’s withdrawal and stabilization.

Suboxone treatment is started once the individual is in moderate withdrawal. This can be uncomfortable, but it is important that a person is not under the influence of any opioids or the withdrawal will become more significant. Once a person is in withdrawal, Suboxone will generally ease symptoms within a couple of hours – sometimes within a few minutes.

Most people need to keep taking Suboxone beyond their stay in residential treatment, and begin a maintenance phase of treatment.

Once people have stabilized in residential treatment at Pacific Ridge, we refer them to outpatient alcohol & drug treatment centers so they can learn additional recovery tools. While it is ultimately the resident’s responsibility to locate a buprenorphine-certified physician for their follow-up care and Suboxone maintenance, the counselors at Pacific Ridge make every effort to help their clients locate a buprenorphine-certified doctor in their home area before they leave residential treatment.