Subutex for Addiction Treatment
Subutex is a brand name for a tablet form of buprenorphine, a semi-synthetic opiate that is prescribed to treat moderate pain and/or opiate addiction. Studies have shown that it has almost exactly the same effectiveness as methadone when used as a treatment protocol in substance abuse recovery.
The physical challenges of opiate addiction are complicated and withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Medically-assisted detoxification with Subutex can help you avoid these symptoms of withdrawal by fooling your brain into thinking that it is still getting your drug of choice.
Subutex can be habit-forming if you do not take it exactly as directed, or if you take it without a prescription. Higher than recommended doses of Subutex will lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. You should never suddenly stop taking Subutex; you must instead be carefully weaned off of the drug.
Understanding Addiction Treatment with Subutex
Subutex contains buprenorphine, a synthetic opiate capable of relieving pain, and of producing the same feelings of relaxation and well-being as other opiate drugs. It is safer than other opiates because it is not as sedating, and because it does not produce the same level of cognitive impairment or respiratory depression.
Another major benefit of Subutex is that buprenorphine has a “ceiling effect.” Larger doses of the drug will not create a larger effect for the user, which means you cannot take it to get high in the same way that you can with your drug of choice.
Unfortunately, Subutex is still susceptible to abuse and may be misused, especially by individuals with a previous opiate addiction. Subutex abusers often inject or snort the drug to intensify the effect. Taking it in combination with other drugs, such as benzodiazepines, can result in coma or death.
According to the FDA’s patient information leaflet on Subutex and Suboxone (a drug that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone), Subutex has the potential to cause a number of adverse effects.
Common side effects include:
- problems sleeping
- stomach pain
Call your doctor or get medical help right away if:
- you feel faint, dizzy, confused, or have any other unusual symptoms
- your breathing gets much slower than is normal for you.
- your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice)
- your urine turns dark
- your bowel movements (stools) turn light in color
- you don’t feel like eating much food for several days or longer
- you feel sick to your stomach (nausea)
- you have lower stomach pain
- your blood pressure drops, making you feel dizzy if you get up too fast from sitting or lying down
- you experience an allergic reaction that makes it hard for you to breathe, or causes hives, swelling of the face, asthma (wheezing) or shock (loss of blood pressure and consciousness)
Despite the potential problems, the benefits of Subutex addiction treatment will far outweigh the risks for most individuals.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse
It is not always apparent when a loved one is struggling with an addiction to opiates. Addicts have a tendency to be secretive, and they can be quite skilled at covering up their problems.
Nevertheless, there usually are some indications that addiction is present IF you are paying VERY close attention. For example, addicts often begin to neglect their hygiene and appearance, and they will often struggle to perform at their usual level at school or work.
Some other possible signs of an opiate addiction include:
- running out of a prescribed medication before it is due for refill
- making up injuries or lying about losing pills in order to get a new prescription
- taking opiates socially or in combination with alcohol
- unusual mood swings
- drowsiness, changes in sleep patterns
- unfamiliar actions or physical symptoms
- withdrawing from family, friends, and favorite activities
Dangers of Subutex
When Subutex is abused or misused, negative consequences are inevitable. No one should ever stop taking Subutex abruptly, but the risk of doing so is even greater if you are taking higher than recommended doses. According to MedlinePlus, withdrawal symptoms may include:
- hot or cold flushes
- teary eyes
- runny nose
- muscle pain
Symptoms of Subutex overdose may include:
- pinpoint pupils
- extreme drowsiness
- blurred vision
- slowed breathing
Who Benefits From/Abuses Subutex?
Very few people become addicted to Subutex while in a substance abuse recovery program. Because you can’t get high from buprenorphine in the same way that you can from heroin, oxycodone, and other opiate drugs, the temptation to abuse the medication is mostly eliminated. You should, however, be aware that other people around you may not be immune to such temptation.
The FDA warns that “Subutex contain[s] a narcotic painkiller that can be a target for people who abuse prescription medicines or street drugs. Therefore, keep your tablets in a safe place, to protect them from theft. Never give them to anyone else. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.”
In order for addiction treatment to be successful, you must address your drug use from all angles. Subutex is a wonderful tool for handling the serious physical problems that come from opiate addiction, but medication alone is not enough. Therapeutic interventions such as 12-step meetings and counseling are needed to treat the mental, emotional, and spiritual sides of addiction.
Am I Addicted?
If you are concerned that you may be addicted to opiates, the first step is to take a good, honest look at your relationship to drugs. You most likely have a problem if one or more of the following statements apply to you.
- I often feel like my life revolves around getting and using drugs.
- I am no longer able to keep up with the demands of my school, work, or home life.
- I take drugs as an escape from my life and my problems.
- I have taken drugs without knowing what effect they will have on me.
- When friends and family members express concern about my drug use, I get defensive and hostile.
- I have tried to quit or reduce my drug use, but was unable due to withdrawal symptoms.
- I am ashamed of, and secretive about, my drug use.
- My life has become more complicated, difficult, or problematic due to my drug use.
- I spend money I can’t afford on drugs.
- I engage in risky behavior while high.
- Deep down, I know that my drug use is unhealthy, but I feel unable to quit on my own.
Subutex Addiction Treatment
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. The fact that opiates are so biologically addictive, with withdrawal symptoms that are both physically and emotionally painful, makes it almost impossible to recover from opiate addiction without professional help.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “medications can be helpful in this detoxification stage to ease craving and other physical symptoms, which often prompt a person to relapse. While not a treatment for addiction itself, detoxification is a useful first step when it is followed by some form of evidence-based treatment.”
If you have abused Subutex in the past, you are likely to do so again in the future. Therefore, you may need to avoid drug-assisted detoxification.
So what exactly is “evidence-based treatment?” Substance abuse treatment programs use a variety of therapeutic approaches that have been proven successful in helping people get sober and lead happier and healthier lives.
- Counseling is an essential part of any recovery plan. You will likely have individual therapy, group therapy, and family or couples therapy. This way you can uncover and address whatever issues may be contributing to your drug use, while also receiving support and understanding from other people.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, can retrain your brain to replace old, unhealthy coping mechanisms with new techniques that will keep you on track.
- 12-step meetings can both help you to get clean, and help you to stay clean for the long term.
There are also a number of relatively newer, more holistic approaches that have proven to be quite effective in recovery. One of these is recreational therapy. According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, “Research supports the concept that people with active, satisfying lifestyles will be happier and healthier. RT/TR provides services which are based on the individuals’ interests and lifestyle and allows them to better engage in therapy and apply these functional improvements to all areas of their life.”