The Effects of Subutex Use
- Table of ContentsPrint
- Is Subutex Harmful?
- Short-Term Effects of Subutex
- Side Effects
- Long-Term Effects of Subutex
- Subutex Dependence
- Subutex Withdrawal Treatment
Is Subutex Harmful?
Subutex Effects question 1
Subutex is one of the key drugs in the battle against opiate abuse, but it is also an opiate. Why is Subutex used, and is it harmful to its users?
The primary active ingredient in Subutex is buprenorphine, which was first discovered in the late 1970s, but it gained popularity in the early 2000s as an alternative to methadone for moderate opiate addiction.
Its main advantage over methadone is that it has a ceiling effect because it's a partial opioid agonist, which means it only partially activates the opioid receptors in the brain. The upshot is that the body won't absorb any more than a 32 mg dose. What happens to the rest of it? It goes where all the other waste products go. This makes it very hard to abuse and overdose on Subutex, but abuse does happen. Usually Subutex stops opiate abuse though.
"Subutex is one of the key drugs in the battle against opiate abuse, but it is also an opiate. "
Subutex is available as a sublingual tablet — one that dissolves under the tongue. Because of the difficulty of abusing it, it's often prescribed for high-risk abusers and those who may require frequent travel, as they can take the drugs with them.
Subutex Effects question 2
Short-Term Effects of Subutex
Subutex is unusual in that it causes minimal sedation, possibly because it's also a partial opioid antagonist (in that it stops certain receptors from preventing the release of GABA). However, it can create a mild high, particularly when paired with other drugs, such as alcohol.
It also reduces pain, and it's very effective for chronic back pain. It's occasionally prescribed for this purpose, although it is rather expensive drug, compared to methadone or even morphine. Methadone would cost around $16 for a month's dose; morphine, around $28; and buprenorphine, $160.
Subutex Effects question 3
If your first dose of Subutex is taken before the withdrawal period of the previous opiate kicks in, it can substitute the opiate in the body. This means it goes into the brain and kicks the old opiate out. This is because it binds very strongly to the opioid receptor. What this means, however, that suddenly, your brain no longer has the fuzzy blanket that it's used to, and you go into precipitated withdrawal. This means that you end up suffering a very nasty and unexpected withdrawal process that you cannot stop. This is one of the key reasons to listen to your doctor when taking the medication.
Other side effects include changes in personality, stomach problems and insomnia. These are the same as with any opiate; there's reason to believe that they're substantially milder than most opiates, due to the way that Subutex doesn't fully act on the opioid receptor.
Subutex Effects question 4
Long-Term Effects of Subutex
The long-term effects of Subutex abuse are surprisingly mild. They tend to be centered around the expense of the drug, but many healthcare plans will pay for a certain amount of addiction treatment, particularly now with the general consensus of addiction being a verifiable disease that can be treated.
"It’s very hard to overdose on Subutex; indeed, the only recorded overdoses that have been fatal have been when the drug has been combined with other drugs."
Subutex can cause long-term depression, however, and it's essential that you are monitored for this condition. It's very hard to overdose on Subutex; indeed, the only recorded overdoses that have been fatal have been when the drug has been combined with other drugs, especially benzodiazepines. You may have trouble sleeping on this drug, however, which can affect your work performance. This may lead your doctor to provide a mild sedative, but be very careful to follow your doctor’s instructions closely.
Subutex Effects question 5
When your life has spiraled out of control and you find that it's just become a mess of drug-taking and addiction, you likely are suffering from dependency. Subutex isn't often the cause of dependency, but it can happen. You can seek help, however, and there are plenty of places that can help you kick your habit. All you have to do is pick up the phone.
Subutex Effects question 6
Subutex Withdrawal Treatment
Withdrawing from any opiate isn't exactly fun, but it's a necessary stage to getting clean and sober. By this point, most people will have experienced withdrawal symptoms several times, but buprenorphine's withdrawal symptoms are like having a severe flu. The symptoms do go away, however, and once you're through detox, you're ready for the rest of your Subutex addiction treatment.
Treatment may include therapy and counseling, which take you through how you got addicted and what you can do to prevent getting addicted again. Therapy can also help you discover the underlying causes of your addiction, whether it's stress, depression or loneliness, and help you recreate your ties with your family.
Perhaps the trickiest stage is where you're released from treatment. At this point, you need to forge your own support systems. There are a lot of peer support groups that can help you through this difficult time. It's always worth looking at the Narcotics Anonymous website for support groups in your area, or you could ask your therapist for recommendations. To help a Subutex addict, call our 24/7 hotline at (800) 943-0566 for more information.