@bear338 Thank you for sharing your story about getting off Dilaudid and the challenges you faced. I’m sorry that you underwent such a painful experience. Patients should always be informed by their doctors what they can expect from their treatment and be part of the decision making team about their care. It sounds like you were not sufficiently informed that they were taking you off your medication and provided with the necessary medical intervention needed to help you transition off opioids safely. It can indeed become a life threatening experience to go cold turkey off your medications altogether and to ride out that process for the several weeks it takes to completely rid your system of opioids altogether.
However, you misunderstand the transition from Dilaudid to Suboxone. Suboxone is a compound drug made up of buprenorphine (which is an opioid I and Naloxone (which is what paramedics and hospitals give to patients who are overdosing on heroine or fentanyl to reverse the overdose.
In order for Suboxone to work and not have the naloxone portion of the drug send you into full and immediate withdrawal, they have patients transitioning from opioids to Suboxone stop all opioid use for 24-48 hours. This indeed sends your body into a painful withdrawal – which is supervised by a physician. It can include nausea, vomiting, the shakes, watery eyes, abdominal cramps, craving, etc. In fact, before you can safely start on Suboxone, you must demonstrate that you are undergoing a certain number of withdrawal symptoms for both safety and efficacy reasons.
Then 24-48 hours into the cold turkey withdrawal process, doctors give you your first dose of Suboxone. Since you are already in withdrawal, the naloxone in the Suboxone doesn’t kick in — instead the opioid portion of the drug starts to work by reversing your withdrawal symptoms and providing pain relief. Doctors can now safely titrate up the Suboxone until your body reaches a safe and effective dose of pain relief.
Thus, the withdrawal portion of the transition onto Suboxone is both time limited and purposeful. The reason for adding the naloxone to the Suboxone, is to make it more difficult for people to misuse Suboxone in a manner for which it wasn’t intended.