Suboxone and Subutex
Suboxone and Subutex are brand names for buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opiate dependence. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic pain reliever that acts as opiate replacement therapy. Both brands are doctor prescribed and can be taken at home as part of an opiate addiction recovery process.
What is Buprenorphine?
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002, buprenorphine (BYOO-pre-NOR-feen) is an opioid medication used to treat opiate addiction.
Buprenorphine is a Schedule III narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), "Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. This means that although buprenorphine is an opioid, and thus can produce typical opioid agonist effects and side effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression; its maximal effects are less than those of full agonists like heroin and methadone."
The brand or trade names Suboxone and Subutex are two kinds of buprenorphine used for addiction treatment. Subutex contains only buprenorphine hydrochloride.
Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and the opiate antagonist naloxone. This version was created to discourage abuse. Patients were abusing medication with injections. Suboxone comes in tablets that dissolve in your mouth.
How Do They Work?
When someone uses an opiate such as heroin, Vicodin, or Oxycontin, the opiates in the drug attach to receptors in the brain causing reduced respiration, euphoria, and decreased pain. The more you ingest, the greater the effect.
Buprenorphine doesn't bind to the receptors as well, thereby producing less of the effects of the other opiates. However, the receptors are tricked into thinking they've been satisfied—much like the heroin used to do for the user. Your brain only thinks it's getting high without the effects.
The Buprenorphine actually stays with the receptors for a longer period—up to three days—blocking the abused drug's opiates.
Benefits of Suboxone and Subutex
The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment (NAABT) lists the following possible benefits, which they sourced from several medical studies:
- Less euphoria and physical dependence
- Lower potential for misuse
- Relatively mild withdrawal
- Suppress symptoms of opioid withdrawal
- Decrease cravings for opioids
- Reduce illicit opioid use
- Block the effects of other opioids
- Help patients stay in treatment
Are They Successful?
According to a recent five-year study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, 408 opiate-addicted patients were treated with buprenorphine. "Of the 169 patients remaining in treatment at 1 year, 154 (91.1%) were no longer using illicit opioids or cocaine based on urine drug test results.
According to SAMHSA, the following are possible side effects of Suboxone and Subutex:
- Dysphoric mood (feeling unhappy)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle aches/cramps
- Mild fever
- Lacrimation (discharge of tears)
- Runny nose
Phases of Treatment
- In the induction phase, an opiate-addicted patient meets with a doctor to start the therapy. You should have not used opiates for the previous 12-24 hours. You should be in the early stages of withdrawals. If you are not already in withdrawal, the administering of Suboxone or Subutex could initiate severe withdrawal symptoms.
Your doctor will determine whether you need Suboxone or Subutex. This first day of treatment will take about two hours in a physician's office.
- The stabilization phase occurs when you have greatly reduced his abuse of opiates and no longer has cravings. Your doctor may adjust the buprenorphine dose at this point. And he or she will determine how often you should visit to receive the drug. At some point, you will likely continue on your own, buying the medication at your local pharmacy.
- The maintenance phase is when you are on a steady dose and may continue using the drug indefinitely, depending on how your overall rehab is progressing.
The use of the buprenorphine products Suboxone and Subutex to help relieve opiate addiction is a relatively safe and effective option. These two medically prescribed drugs can eventually be taken at home, replacing an addicts cravings for a previously abused opiate like heroin, Vicodin, or Oxycontin.