Signs of Subutex Addiction
Subutex is a drug used in the treatment of opiate addiction (namely heroin addiction). It is also used in the treatment of chronic pain and post-operative pain management. The active ingredient in Subutex is Buprenorphine (Buprenorphine Hydrochloride).
Subutex addiction is becoming more and more widespread in the country, mainly by heroin addicts who wish to quit the habit without stopping the use of the drug ‘cold turkey’- a practice where the addict withdraws the drug abruptly, often causing considerable damage to their bodies.
Buprenorphine is sold in various forms. These include Subutex and Suboxone, which are used in the treatment of opiate addiction and are injected intravenously, Norspan and Butrans are transdermal patches used in the treatment of chronic pain, and Temgesic and Buprenex are used in primary care settings for management of acute pain.
The FDA introduced Suboxone as an alternative to Subutex. It has an additive substance called Naloxone, which is designed to discourage Subutex abuse by reversing the effects of opiate use in the body that produces severe Subutex withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with opiate withdrawal.
Subutex acts on the brains opioid receptors where it bonds with these receptors by displacing opiate molecules because it has a higher affinity. This way, it is able to reduce the brain’s dependency on the opiate being abused. The opiate in the body is then detoxified by the body by breaking it down and eventually eliminates the substance.
Subutex addiction happens when the patient takes higher than recommended doses or administers it in any other way than what has been prescribed, by crushing it or dissolving in another liquid to be injected.
Other methods of Subutex addiction include taking it in conjunction with Benzodiazepine, such as Klonopin, taking it with alcohol, sleeping pills, opiates, antidepressants etc. Combining these substances is strongly advised against due to the severe side effects that are encountered, such as extreme sedation, unconsciousness and even death.
Symptoms of Subutex Addiction
CNS effects and constipation have also been reported, although they are less marked than what is commonly experienced with morphine. When the drug is injected, Hepatitic Necrosis and jaundice are experienced. Respiratory depression is the most dangerous effect encountered with Subutex addiction.
Buprenorphine, unlike other opioids, has a ceiling effect when it comes to respiratory depression, a situation where once a certain dosage is reached, additional dosage does not cause more respiratory depression. Due to this effect, patients who have been taking Subutex or Suboxone for medium or long-term periods are generally not in danger of overdosing.
This is, however, more likely to occur when Subutex is combined with other drugs such as alcohol or Benzodiazepines. When changing from Subutex to other opioids, the doctor is advised to carefully monitor the dosage in the first few days.
Higher than normal doses are required to overcome the high affinity Buprenorphine has for the opioid receptors in the brain, but this is gradually reduced.