What is Subutex?

Subutex is a sublingual tablet that contains the active ingredient buprenorphine, which is a type of medication, the so-called opiates.

Opioids are painkillers, codeine, morphine and diamorphine (heroin), which work by mimicking the effects of natural pain reduction chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are found in the brain and spinal cord and reduce pain by combining with opioid receptors. However, opioids also cause a feeling of euphoria and hallucinations in the brain. They can be addictive and people who take them for a long time can become addicted to them.

Subutex or buprenorphine, which is its trade name, is one of a number of synthetic opiates that are manufactured for medical use and have similar effects with heroin and morphine.

Subutex is mainly used today in the treatment of drug addiction as a substitute for heroin, in an attempt to alleviate some of the problems associated with heroin addiction. Subutex is different from methadone and heroin because it does not have such a strong effect on the brain.

How Subutex is taken?

Subutex is usually taken orally, it is placed under the tongue and dissolved there for about 5-10 minutes. If the drug is chewed or swallowed, it will not work.

What are the side effects of taking Subutex?

Subutex can lead to a sharp drop in blood pressure, and as a result, a person may experience dizziness or fainting, as if rising too fast after lying down for a long time or sitting. Subutex can also have side effects such as a headache, insomnia, nausea, and constipation.

What are the long-term implications of taking Subutex?

Subutex is addictive. An overdose may also occur if taken with other drugs or alcohol.

What class of drugs is Subutex?

Subutex is a Class C drug, the maximum penalty for possession of Subutex is 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. The maximum penalty for the delivery or intent to supply is 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

What is heroin addiction?

Heroin addiction means that you develop withdrawal symptoms within a day or so after the last dose. So, if you are addicted to heroin, you should take a dose regularly to feel “normal.”

Symptoms of breaking can include: sweating, flushing or cold, watery eyes and nose, yawning, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, hand tremors, sleep disturbances, anxiety, general pain, or just a person who feels unwell. Lifting is usually done within five days. However, the person then experiences a strong craving for heroin, still feels tired and does not sleep well for some time afterward.

What is buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine (the trade name of Subutex) is an opioid drug like heroin. It can be issued by prescription. If a person uses buprenorphine, he is unlikely to have withdrawal symptoms if the person stops taking heroin (or the withdrawal syndrome is much less severe). It also helps reduce cravings for heroin. The drug most commonly prescribed as a heroin substitute is methadone. However, buprenorphine is sometimes preferred when:

  • some people feel fresher with buprenorphine than methadone;
  • some people have difficulty using methadone;
  • the likelihood of recovering from it is greater (detoxification) than from methadone. Some people take methadone for a long time because of its chemical properties, but you can switch to buprenorphine if you decide on detox;
  • buprenorphine may be safer if taken in large quantities or overdose than methadone.

If you take buprenorphine (or methadone) under the supervision of a physician, and not heroin, you:

  • feeling better;
  • likely to give up drugs forever.

Who can prescribe buprenorphine and when?

Many doctors can refer you to a drug treatment clinic to examine your condition. After the examination, buprenorphine may be prescribed. Some general practitioners may also write a prescription on the recommendation of a drug treatment clinic. Some physicians who are specially trained may conduct examinations and prescribe buprenorphine without the necessary recommendation.

The survey usually includes:

  • details of your health and social circumstances are taken into account;
  • details of your past and present drug use are taken into account, and buprenorphine use is necessary or appropriate.
  • expertise;
  • urinalysis to confirm which drugs you are taking;
  • an assessment of what you consider necessary at the present time.

If you have used drugs such as heroin, you should also do:

  • a blood test that includes testing for HIV, checking the health of your liver (liver tests), and testing for hepatitis A, B, and C;
  • immunization against hepatitis A, B, and tetanus (if not previously done);
  • if necessary, hepatitis B immunization for your partner and children.

Taking buprenorphine

Buprenorphine usually begins to be taken some time after the examination, when the results of the urine analysis are ready. The initial dose is selected depending on the current use of heroin (or methadone).

Buprenorphine use

Buprenorphine is a pill under the tongue. The tablet dissolves within 3-7 minutes and is absorbed directly into the blood from the mouth. (The pills do not work if you just swallow them). They are usually prescribed just once a day, one dose. As a rule, pharmacists distribute the amount of buprenorphine to the patient. This means that there can be no doubt as to how much to take. This control may be relaxed after several months if the patient takes a regular maintenance dose. The taste of buprenorphine can be quite bitter.

First Dose

The timing of the first dose is very important.

After taking heroin, take the first dose of buprenorphine at least eight hours after taking the last dose of heroin.

After taking it, taking the first dose of buprenorphine is necessary between 24 and 36 hours after the last dose of methadone.

The reason for this is that buprenorphine works well and needs to be taken when there is a low level of heroin or methadone in the body. Thus, the goal is to take the first dose only when the person feels some initial symptoms of withdrawal. This is usually about eight hours after the last dose of heroin, and more after the last dose of methadone. If buprenorphine is consumed earlier, it may cause sudden symptoms of withdrawal.

Use of the correct dose

Initial doses, as a rule, should be increased. As a rule, on the second and third day, higher doses are given, by which time the person should no longer feel any withdrawal symptoms. It is very important that a person does not take heroin or methadone during this time, as this will make him feel sick – as if he is breaking. It may be necessary to increase the dose again to prevent the symptoms of thirst, but most people feel that they use the correct dose during the first week.

Some other information about using buprenorphine:

  • Some people experience discomfort during the first 2-3 days.
  • Some other medicines may be taken with buprenorphine. For example, some antidepressants. Tell your doctor who prescribes buprenorphine if you are taking any other medicines. However, most prescribed medications can be consumed as usual.
  • You are more likely to succeed in stopping heroin use if you have support and counseling in addition to taking buprenorphine or methadone. This may be from a local drug treatment clinic (or similar facility). Self-help groups or other institutions may also be helpful. It is much more difficult to do it alone – so go for a consultation or ask for help if this is available in your area.
  • You will be asked to pass a urine test from time to time as directed by your doctor.
  • Other drugs such as benzodiazepines (benzos) and alcohol can also cause the effect of buprenorphine. So, it is better not to take any other medicines, and do not drink too much alcohol.
  • If you are using heroin or other opiates, such as buprenorphine, you must inform the relevant authorities. You will probably be banned from driving. However, if you are on a controlled buprenorphine program, you may be allowed to drive again, subject to an annual review.
  • Keep buprenorphine and any other drugs out of the reach of children.

About Carrie McCubbin