Subutex Addiction Facts
Subutex is a drug used to treat withdrawal symptoms of narcotics addicts. Its method of administration is sublingual where it is placed under the tongue and left to dissolve slowly. Swallowing the pill or crushing it is an abusive method of administration and will lead to an overdose. Additionally, using the drug for any other purpose than what it is intended for (as a painkiller) is considered abuse.
When combined with drugs such as Benzodiazepines, Subutex can act as a CNS depressant, which can lead to death. Combining it, especially in the form of an injection, with sleeping pills such as Ambien or tranquilizers is potentially lethal and usually leads to extreme sedation, which can result in unconsciousness and eventual death.
Subutex is used primarily in the treatment of heroin addiction although it can be used to treat any kind of opiate addiction. Traditionally, methadone has been mostly used in treatment of opiate addiction. There is, however, considerable stigma associated with visiting a methadone clinic, which is compounded by the fact that most of these clinics are located in urban areas and patients from rural areas have a difficult time traveling to towns to buy the drug. Subutex offers a better alternative since it can be prescribed in a physician’s office to treat opiate addiction.
To prevent Subutex addiction, a drug that meets the strict FDA laid out rules was developed. This is Suboxone, which contains Naloxone, an additive that reverses the effects of opiates. If abused, for instance, by swallowing or crushing, the Naloxone present in Subutex causes withdrawal symptoms to develop. Subutex is therefore generally given to patients as Suboxone. There is considerable debate on the efficacy of Naloxone in controlling Subutex addiction.
An overdose of the drug can happen if the doctor’s prescription is not strictly followed. This is one of the ways Subutex addiction happens. Due to the drug’s easy availability, it is being increasingly abused by more people. This seems to be linked to the falling rate of heroin abuse nationwide.
Since the introduction of Subutex in 2002, cases of heroin addicts caught by law enforcement agents fell dramatically from 2230 to 560 in just one year. This is a true testament of the effectiveness of the drug in heroin addiction management.
The figure has fallen even further during recent years. The increasing cases of Subutex addiction have prompted the Ministry of Health to propose to the CNB, Central Narcotics Bureau, to make it a controlled drug. It has been noted that almost all patients admitted to the IMH, Institute of Mental Health, are Subutex addicts.
In 2005, the Ministry of Health introduced clinical guidelines for Subutex use. Doctors who treat opiate addiction, namely heroin, and wish to prescribe it to patients are required to undergo an eight-hour course that is given by the IMH. They are also required to list the prescriptions they give out, the details and particulars of their patients in a registry.
The Central Narcotics Bureau, CNB, has been very vigilant in monitoring Subutex abuse and has recorded some success in curbing the vice as seen in the steadily falling cases of public complaints about its abuse.