Subutex Addiction Treatment
Subutex is used in the treatment of opiate addiction, mainly heroin addiction. Its chemical name is Buprenorphine, Buprenorphine Hydrochloride, and it is also used to treat chronic or post-operative pain, especially for patients who do not tolerate opiates very well. Its mode of administration is mainly sublingually, where it is placed under the tongue and left to dissolve, or through an intravenous injection.
The Buprenorphine forms administered sublingually are Subutex and Suboxone. Transdermal patches are used in the treatment of chronic pain and these are marketed as Temgesic and Butrans. The injectable versions of Buprenorphine are marketed as Temgesic and Buprenex.
Subutex is sold as pills, which are white in color, oval shaped and bitter. Suboxone is sold as orange colored pills, hexagonal in shape and lime colored, and is constituted as one part Naloxone to four parts Buprenorphine. Roxane Laboratories, of Columbus, Ohio, also produces a generic version of Subutex. Subutex also has some anti-depressant effects and is sometimes used as an antidepressant.
When taken sublingually, the drug takes about 5-10 minutes before it can fully dissolve and take effect. It is ineffective when chewed or swallowed due to the digestive juices in the stomach that can alter its structure.
Side Effects of Subutex Abuse
Subutex addiction occurs when the patient increases the prescribed dosage without consulting their doctor. The chemical structure of Subutex is closely associated with that of opiates. Opiate addiction causes significant damage to the brain and the effects of sudden withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant. When an opioid such as heroin is injected by the patient, the brain is flooded with these chemicals and the user experiences a feeling of euphoria.
With time, the brain produces less of the chemicals associated with pleasure until it reaches a point of dependence where it can no longer function normally without the drug. At this stage, the patient is said to be an addict. The patient also experiences withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not injected at the normal daily frequency (3-4 times for most people) or if they stop using it suddenly.
The most commonly used mode of treatment for opioid addiction is Replacement Therapy with Subutex being used normally in conjunction with a Benzodiazepine such as oxazepam or diazepam. Subutex is a partial opioid agonist and acts by replacing the opioid molecules of the opiate being treated in the opioid receptors of the brain. This is possible because it has a higher affinity for these receptors than the opiate molecules and thus displaces them.
Subutex produces effects on the body comparable to that of opiates. For this reason, it is often abused, especially by crushing or snorting. The FDA recommends physicians limit its use to supervised sessions only.
The withdrawal symptoms of Subutex addiction are relatively mild compared to those of other opioids, but it is not recommended to withdraw the drug suddenly due to the risk of severe complications and in some cases, death.