Transitioning from High Dose Opiates to Suboxone for Chronic Pain

Posted by faithgirl30 @faithgirl30, Nov 25, 2020

Hi! My name is Melanie and I’ve been on high dose opiates for the last 5 years due severe degenerative arthritis in my neck. I’ve undergone 5 spinal neck surgeries in the last 4 years, the last of which was October 2019. I am now fully fused between C2-T2 and have rods in the back of my neck for stability that run the full length of my fusion. I suffer chronic daily headaches and have just undergone the first round of Botox for headaches and cervical dystonia. My pain specialist and surgeon agree that I will more than likely suffer long term chronic pain for the rest of my life. They have recommended that I make the jump from high dose dilaudid to suboxone to manage chronic pain, which is an off-label use for suboxone, but which has been shown to successfully manage long term chronic pain.

I am writing to find out if others have made the jump successfully to suboxone, and if so what your transition from opiates to suboxone was like? I have been nervous about this transition, because it requires that you go cold turkey off of opiates and enter into full blown withdrawal before it’s safe to start the ramp up onto suboxone. So, if you have made the jump, what was the withdrawal process like for you, and has suboxone been effective in managing your long term chronic pain? Would you recommend others make this move? Why or why not?

@amandaburnett

Hi @stlr21 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Glad to hear that you are looking to stop using suboxone on a daily basis. I feel compelled to let you know that it is not an easy process on your own if you have never tried before. Normally it is highly recommended that you consult the physician that prescribes the medication to help you do that.

You will see that I moved your post to a discussion about opioids and suboxone. I did this because I wanted you to be able to connect with people who are either on the medication or trying to get off of it. @faithgirl30 started this discussion and may be able to talk about her experience of taking it.

Have you told your doctor that you are looking to taper off?

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Hi, yes I told my doctor but she hasn’t responded yet. I’ve been off of any substance for over a year now but the suboxone is the only thing holding me down. Like I said earlier, I’m on 4mg now and I’m going to step down to 2mg starting tomorrow and try from there. I’m expecting to feel nauseous or some other side effect but I have to get through it. If anyone can help, please do so. Thank you!

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