How to Help a Subutex Addict
Subutex is a partial opioid agonist that is used to treat opioid dependence. It is utilized as a detox and maintenance medication in some cases of opioid abuse. It competes at the same sites of interaction - opioid receptors - that heroin and other opioid drugs bind with and, as a partial agonist, will inhibit their full effects. In this manner, Subutex is extremely useful in the fight against opioid addiction and has proven to help manage opioid withdrawal and, furthermore, reduce drug cravings.
Unfortunately, it has the potential for abuse on its own, as it is an opioid itself and has the capability to produce euphoria--especially when taken in higher amounts than prescribed or crushed up and snorted.
For this reason, Subutex tends to be tightly controlled, but addicts can and do get their hands on this drug in order to abuse it, whether they're being treated for an opioid addiction or are buying it illegally.
Subutex is buprenorphine, which was discovered in the 1970s and is listed as a medication that is dangerous and harmful when used incorrectly by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. It's related to thebaine, which is a substance extracted from the sap of the opium poppy. Unlike many opioids, it has only partial opioid agonist properties, meaning it doesn't fire off every opioid receptor - only some - so when taken correctly, it does not produce a significant high.
Subutex provides therapeutic relief to those who have opioid addictions; however, if taken with other more potent opioids, it may send the user into immediate withdrawal. This situation occurs because buprenorphine is not as effective as methadone, morphine, or heroin at activating the opioid receptors and, as a result, will effectively block the full agonist/receptor interaction of these other drugs, with the risk of precipitating a jarringly abrupt, and violently unpleasant opiate withdrawal.
Help for Subutex Addicts
If you believe your loved one is abusing Subutex, you may be wondering what you can do to help them. You may feel overwhelmed, helpless, angry, and depressed when it comes to understanding the scope of their addiction. There are a number of things you can do to help:
- Communicate in a nonjudgmental and empathetic way. Be kind and show that you are genuinely concerned for their health. Angry confrontation will only push them further away, but chances are, a gentle approach will elicit a more positive response.
- Understand that your loved one may be volatile, irritable, and in denial.
- If you can, try to catch your loved one when he or she is trying to quit abusing Subutex. This means they will have already admitted their addiction and has the desire to stop using.
- If your loved one responds positively to your approach, you may suggest therapy, counseling, or any other form of treatment that would be beneficial.
Is Subutex Addictive?
As with any opioid, Subutex can be addictive. Buprenorphine alone is particularly more addictive than the Suboxone preparation of the drug--which is buprenorphine combined with naloxone.
Subutex is marketed in the form of a sublingual tablet, which is placed under the tongue and dissolved when taken properly, but when users take more than prescribed, crush them up and snort them, or inject them, the potential for dependence and addiction increases greatly.
If you or your loved one is prescribed Subutex, make sure to follow the doctor's instructions very carefully in order to prevent abuse and negative consequences.
What Are the Signs of Addiction?
Addiction is a complex and chronic condition that doesn't need to be battled alone. There are some noticeable changes you may observe in your loved one that may point to Subutex addiction. If you recognize any of these physical or psychological changes, you may want to talk to your loved one about their potential substance dependency as well as provide helpful treatment options.
The signs and symptoms of Subutex addiction, and associated misuse of the drug are as follows:
- Perforated nasal septum, sinusitis or bleeding nose due to intranasal use.
- Collapsed veins, skin and tissue infections, or bloodborne disease from intravenous use.
- Changes in mood.
- Frequent flu-like symptoms.
- Yellowing of skin and eyes.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, your loved one may persistently fail to meet responsibilities at work, home, or school, as well as neglect previously enjoyed hobbies and recreational activities. These are two major warning signs of addiction and should not be ignored.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms: A Sign of Subutex Abuse
Additionally, withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid abuse are another sign of Subutex dependence and may occur periodically in between drug use episodes. These withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Muscle aches.
- Goose bumps.
- Dilated pupils.
- Secretion of tears.
- Runny nose.
- Gastrointestinal distress.
If you or a loved one displays any number of these signs and symptoms, there's a possibility that an addiction to buprenorphine has developed. Don't hesitate to call 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? to learn about different Subutex treatment centers.
Am I Addicted to Subutex?
Addiction is a complex and chronic condition. It is characterized by persistent use despite negative consequences and an inability to stop using Subutex.
If you or a loved one answers yes to any number of these questions, then an addiction may be present:
- Have you ever used Subutex for any other reason besides medicinal reasons?
- Have you used Subutex at higher doses than recommended or needed to obtain a new prescription before the due date?
- Are you unable to stop abusing Subutex when you want to?
- Do you ever feel bad or guilty about your Subutex abuse?
- Does your spouse ever complain about your Subutex abuse?
- Has your Subutex use created problems in your relationships?
- Have you lost friends because of your Subutex misuse?
- Have you neglected your family due to your use of Subutex?
- Have you experienced negative consequences at work or been fired because Subutex use?
- Have you engaged in illegal activities to obtain Subutex?
- Have you been arrested for possession of Subutex without a prescription?
- Have you ever experienced aforementioned withdrawal symptoms when you stopped taking Subutex?
- Have you had any medical problems as a result of your Subutex abuse?
- Have you sought help for your drug problem?
This test, adapted from the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, is not meant to provide you with an official diagnosis. If you find that your life has become centered around your Subutex abuse, you are likely suffering from an addiction. Seek help from a mental health professional if you are worried about you or a loved one's Subutex abuse.
Subutex Addiction Treatment
Subutex addiction clinics are designed to help you quit the drug for good, but you have to be ready and willing to enter recovery. You'll be taken through the four main stages of addiction treatment:
- Intake Evaluation. A therapist will assess the nature of your Subutex addiction as well as assess for co-occurring mental disorders, if any.
- Detoxification/Medication-Assisted Treatment. The treatment facility will work to alleviate your withdrawal symptoms while clearing your body of the drug.
- Counseling and Therapy. Individual and group therapy will help you to build healthy coping skills and positive communication skills to be utilized once initial treatment is completed.
- Long-Term Recovery/Aftercare. Your therapist will devise an aftercare plan for you in which you will receive ongoing treatment in the form of support groups, counseling, therapy, 12-step programs, or any combination of these. This will help to prevent relapse.
You'll be given the help and advice you need to get off the drug. You'll even be encouraged to build up support networks outside the facility to help you maintain sobriety when you're outside the center. In many cases, the extra help will come in the form of a peer support group where you have a sponsor who can guide you through the stages of long-term recovery.
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- ISMP List of High-Alert Medications in Acute Care Settings. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from https://www.ismp.org/tools/highalertmedications.pdf
- Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- The Facts About Buprenorphine for the Treatment of Opioid Addiction. (2011). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA09-4442/SMA09-4442.pdf
- Am I Drug Addicted? (2015). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from https://ncadd.org/get-help/take-the-test/am-i-drug-addicted