How Long Is It Safe to Use Suboxone for Maintenance?

If you are in recovery for opioid addiction or you are an opiate addict looking for recovery options, then you have most likely heard of a drug called suboxone. Suboxone is a combination of two main drugs – buprenorphine and naloxone – and is usually administered in the form of a sublingual film, which mean it is a thin, film-like drug that is placed underneath the tongue or on the inside of the jaw.

The buprenorphine part of the drug acts by binding to the same receptors in the brain to which opiates also bind. It provides the same relief addicts feel when they take other drugs like hydrocodone or percocet. The naloxone in suboxone acts similarly, but it keeps addicts in recovery from feeling the “high” or euphoric feelings associated with other opioids. Together, they allow addicts to provide their bodies with what they need to keep from going into withdrawal, but there is no high and it eliminates the craving for more drugs.


There are many different available dosages of suboxone for people at all levels of recovery. The films, or strips, come in the following dosages:

  • 12 mg doses
  • 8 mg doses
  • 4 mg doses
  • 2 mg doses

People who are just starting their journey to recovery often start out with a higher dose – usually 8 mg, but sometimes 12 mgs if their opiate addiction was very advanced.

The longer people remain on suboxone treatment, the lower their dosage becomes over time. This process is often referred to as “tapering.” In the first few months of treatment, it is important to work closely with your doctor to manage your correct dosage. Whether you start out on a dosage of two 12 mg strips a day or one 8 mg strip a day, eventually, you will be ready to taper down. Your doctor will start tapering you down slowly, until eventually you will maintain on either one 4 mg strip a day or one 2 mg strip a day.

How Long Does Tapering Take?

Tapering down to a 4 or 2 mg strip of suboxone will be different for every individual. The length of time this process will take depends on many things, such as:

  • Length of time you have been abusing opiates
  • How many pills you generally took each day
  • How often you used opioids each day
  • The types of opioids you were using

One thing that you simply cannot do is compare your suboxone treatment plan to someone else’s. Do not be discouraged if someone you know seems to be tapering down more quickly than you. The recovery process is different for everyone. As long as you are taking your doctor’s recommended dosage each day, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing. You will eventually taper down to a lower dose in time.

How Long Can I Stay on Suboxone After I Taper for Maintenance?

If there is one thing that all addicts know, it is this: There is no quick fix for addiction. Suboxone treatment is no exception. While the ultimate goal of any recovery plan is to help the addict stop taking all medications – not substitute one drug for another – that does not happen overnight. Suboxone is a relatively safe drug, which means it can be used for quite a long time without any major side effects. However, there is no set time limit to stop taking suboxone.

You and your doctor will decide when you are ready to quit suboxone completely. In the meantime, take your medicine on schedule and take comfort in the fact that suboxone has very few side effects, even with long-term usage. The most common side effects from long-term suboxone use are allergic reactions and feelings of anxiousness. In rare cases, long-term suboxone use has been linked to hepatitis, but it is rare, and chances are you will be clean and off all your medications long before that could happen. If you do notice any side effects creeping up on you, however, talk to your doctor immediately.

If you or someone you know is an addict looking for treatment, talk to your doctor about the suboxone treatment plan. There are both in-house rehab options and out-patient options for the treatment, which means it fits into anyone’s life and schedule. Also, most insurance companies cover suboxone treatment, and for people without insurance, the suboxone company provides numerous coupons to help make the drug more affordable. Don’t wait! Suboxone could be the first step on your journey to recovery. Don’t be afraid to take that step. Call one of our counselors today at 844-639-8371.

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