How to Recognize the Signs Your Suboxone Dose is Too Low
Most people are aware of the continuing opioid crisis in the United States. Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) refers to an overwhelming desire to use opioids, increased tolerance to opioids, and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when discontinued.
Top signs of opioid abuse include:
- Uncontrollable cravings
- Inability to control opioid use
- Weight loss and other changes in personal appearance
- Poor work performance
- Flu-like symptoms
- Sleep habit changes
- Mood swings
- Isolation from friends and family
- Recent financial difficulties
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. rose from 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021. And synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, accounted for the majority of these deaths due to drug overdose.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction
Fortunately, there are many options for people seeking help dealing with OUD. Suboxone is one such choice that the Food and Drug Administration approves to treat opioid dependence. It is the brand name for a prescription drug that contains both naloxone and buprenorphine. The drugs work in combination to help combat the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone is also one of the various medications used as part of a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) regime. There are many benefits of MAT , such as reducing the need for inpatient detox, improving patient survival rates, decreasing illicit opiate use, and increasing treatment retention.
When someone is first starting Suboxone, they need to be closely monitored to ensure the optimal dosage. The medication is used both to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent you from using opioids.
Suboxone, along with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling, is used as part of a comprehensive program to help manage substance use disorders. It is effective at treating addiction to opioids and opiates such as:
Healthcare practitioners tailor the treatment plan according to each patient’s unique and specific needs. The goal is to prescribe the lowest dose of Suboxone possible to help minimize cravings and prevent uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which, when uncontrolled, could lead to drug relapse, overdose, or even death.
But how low is too low when it comes to administering Suboxone? Continue reading to get answers to all your questions regarding proper Suboxone dosage.
Signs Your Suboxone Dose For OUD is Too Low
Suboxone comes in tablet, injectable, or sublingual film formulations. The sublingual film and oral tablets are easy to administer as they quickly dissolve under the tongue. SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has a quick start guide for adding buprenorphine as part of an Opioid Use Disorder treatment program. For those who are feeling withdrawal symptoms, are new to Suboxone, or are still having drug cravings a higher dose of Suboxone may be needed.
Typical buprenorphine dosage guide:
- 2 mg = very low dose (2 mg of buprenorphine / 0.5 mg naloxone)
- 4 mg = low dose (4mg/1mg)
- 8 mg = medium dose (8mg/2mg)
- 12 mg = high dose (12mg/3mg)
You should note that it usually takes a couple of days for your body to adjust to Suboxone when you first start taking it. Your healthcare provider will likely start you on a low dosage and see how your body reacts.
Getting the Right Suboxone Dose
If you still experience cravings due to too low a dose, this could cause you to relapse eventually. If you are still experiencing cravings and/or uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal within a few days of your initial dosage, this may be a sign the dose is too low. If you feel this is the case, you need to talk to your doctor to get the right dose ASAP so you do not feel the cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Not increasing your dose may lead to finding alternatives on the street.
*Please note increasing your dose without contacting your doctor is not advised. This medication requires a specific certification for any MD to prescribe. It may require another COWS assessment (Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale) to ensure that any dose adjustment is correct and safe.
Signs Your Suboxone Does is Too Low
Everyone is different. However, these are signs your Suboxone dose could be too low. These withdrawal symptoms or cravings are a sign that you need a higher dose.
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal cramping
- Watery eyes
- Running nose
Suboxone used for SUD is typically taken as a single daily dose. Never change your dosage without first speaking with your healthcare team. If you continue to experience withdrawal symptoms after taking Suboxone, it may be time to return to the MAT clinic and consult with your doctor to adjust your dose.
A long-term Suboxone-based MAT treatment plan typically includes four phases. The induction phase helps decide the correct dose, while the stabilization phase works on determining the underlying causes of addiction. Your doctor will continue you on a maintenance dose, the length of which is determined by your specific treatment needs, while the goal of the final taper phase is to reduce the required dose gradually.
Keep a record of how you feel after taking your daily dosage of Suboxone. During your first 8-weeks, it’s recommended you consult with your healthcare team weekly. During these weekly follow-ups, your healthcare provider can recommend increasing or decreasing your dosage as needed.
How do you know if you need to increase your dose?
Some people take Suboxone in place of opioids to help manage chronic pain. If you’re still experiencing significant pain after taking your daily dosage, it may be time to contact your healthcare provider. For any pain that isn’t well controlled, your doctor may recommend multiple smaller doses, around 2 mg, up to 3 times a day to manage your pain better.
But note that eventually, Suboxone creates a ceiling effect. That is a dose where you experience moderate pain relief and/or a reduction in cravings but where higher dosages don’t provide any additional benefits. This so-called ceiling effect is part of what makes Suboxone a safe and effective treatment, as the risk of overdose is significantly reduced.
And one final note on dosage – you should also recognize when you’re taking too much Suboxone. Too high a dose can make you sleepy, sedated, dizzy, or nauseous. Again, if you feel these symptoms, contact your provider for a lower dose. This must be medically reviewed and assessed to find the “sweet spot” to ensure your lasting recovery.
Opioid Addiction Treatment Option
Scheduling a 30, 60, or 90-day stay in a treatment center isn’t your only option when researching your options for opioid addiction treatment. While you could take a chance at finding a trustworthy local treatment clinic by searching “Suboxone doctors near me,” you may want to check out online alternatives.
One such option is Recovery Delivered, an easy online Suboxone program for anyone cleared to enroll in a Medication-Assisted Treatment program. Online treatment is convenient and affordable, especially compared to traditional treatment facilities.
It’s important to note that Recovery Delivered focuses on providing patient-centric recovery. If a person’s Suboxone dose is too low, they are more likely to relapse, so we make sure our patients are given the right dosage to ensure their long-term success.
This is why we require patients new to Suboxone to meet weekly with one of our providers. This differs from most other Suboxone providers, who may only meet monthly with their patients.
Get Started on Your Journey to Recovery Today
The major benefit of using our online opioid recovery program is that you can do it at home and work around your busy schedule. This means you don’t have to take time off from work to attend inpatient or outpatient counseling and treatment sessions.
After your initial visit to evaluate your medical history, one of our licensed providers will write you a prescription for Suboxone and send it to your local pharmacy. All necessary drug testing is conveniently delivered to your home, and then you arrange weekly telemedicine follow-ups with your doctor during the first 6 to 8 weeks of treatment.
We work with licensed online Suboxone doctors in all 50 states to create a custom treatment plan that suits your unique and specific needs. Call us today and download the Recovery Delivered app to your phone and get started on your own personal journey of recovery!