Last Updated on by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue in the United States, and millions of Americans struggle to overcome it every year.
When most people think of prescription drug abuse, they think of the overconsumption of opioid drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. Did you know it’s also possible to develop an addiction to drugs like Subutex, which are often used to treat opioid addiction?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about Subutex addiction and addiction treatment.
What is Subutex?
Subutex is the brand name version of a drug known as buprenorphine. Subutex is most often prescribed to help those who are struggling with an opioid addiction.
Previously, the most popular drug used to treat opioid addiction was methadone. Many medical professionals are now beginning to prescribe buprenorphine-based drugs instead. Examples of buprenorphine-based drugs include Subutex and Suboxone.
Buprenorphine is considered a Schedule III drug instead of a Schedule II drug (like methadone). This means it has a lower potential for abuse compared to methadone.
Medical professionals find buprenorphine to be safer and less likely to be abused. This doesn’t mean there is no potential for addiction, though.
What is Buprenorphine?
How does buprenorphine work? What makes it a better option for treating opioid addiction?
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist.
It binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, which helps to minimize pain and promote feelings of well-being. Unlike full opioids, though, buprenorphine does not create a state of euphoria (when it’s taken in the proper dosage).
Buprenorphine helps to minimize withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings in individuals who are addicted to opioid drugs.
Because it still binds to the opioid receptor, there’s a possibility someone taking Subutex could end up simply swapping one addiction for another, slightly less harmful one.
Subutex Vs. Suboxone
Two of the most popular buprenorphine-based drugs are Subutex and Suboxone. What are the differences between these two drugs?
Subutex was formulated before Suboxone. Although Suboxone is effective at treating opioid addiction, many people have abused it by injecting it intravenously. Suboxone was developed as a solution to this problem.
In addition to buprenorphine, Suboxone also contains naloxone.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist blocking the effects of opioids on the opioid receptors. If an individual injects Suboxone, they will immediately experience withdrawal symptoms, making it less likely to be abused.
Signs of Subutex Addiction
How do you know if someone is struggling with a Subutex addiction and requires addiction treatment?
It can be hard to pin down, especially since they probably seem to be doing a lot better now that they’re taking Subutex instead of abusing other opioid drugs. But, there are still some signs you ought to watch out for, including the following:
Increased Drug Tolerance
Often, the first sign of drug addiction or dependency is an increased tolerance to that drug. This means an individual will need a larger dose of the drug to experience the same effects.
They will also likely begin to experience pain or other withdrawal symptoms when they go too long without consuming the drug.
As with other forms of addiction, many people who struggle with Subutex addiction begin to exhibit erratic behavior.
They might become irritable, seemingly out of nowhere, especially when asked about their Subutex usage. They might also experience depression, anxiety, or other mood changes.
Lying About Symptoms
Individuals who are addicted to Subutex may start lying about the symptoms they’re experiencing in order to ensure they continue receiving the drug.
They might exaggerate the severity of their symptoms, for example, in order to get a new prescription or to have their dosage increased. They might do this while they’re detoxing from another opioid drug or after they’ve completed addiction treatment.
Preoccupation with Obtaining Their Next Subutex Prescription
Someone who is addicted to Subutex might also become obsessed with obtaining their next Subutex prescription. They’ll spend a lot of time and energy figuring out how they’re going to get it.
They might even travel to multiple hospitals and doctor’s offices to obtain a prescription from a doctor who is unfamiliar with their case.
Experience of Withdrawal Symptoms
Finally, individuals who struggle with Subutex addiction are also likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. The most common Subutex withdrawal symptoms include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Digestive issues like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Physical aches and pains
- Cold and flu-like symptoms
- Increased sweating
- Mood swings and irritability
They may also experience changes in appetite and lose weight as a result.
Subutex Addiction Treatment Options
If you notice someone you love experiencing any of these signs of Subutex addiction, it’s important to help them seek treatment as quickly as possible. There are a few different Subutex addiction treatment options, including the following:
When it comes to overcoming Subutex addiction, the first step is detoxification.
The Subutex detoxification process requires medical supervision. This is because side effects can be quite severe. It’s also recommended to come off of Subutex gradually to control withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxification can take place on an inpatient or outpatient basis. This phase typically lasts for several days or weeks, until the drug has completely left the individual’s system. Detoxification also involves counseling to help the individual work through their withdrawal symptoms.
Counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Once the detoxification phase is over, they will need more counseling and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. This helps the individual fully overcome their addiction.
During counseling and therapy, they will learn to change their behaviors and thought patterns. This, in turn, helps to minimize their risk of relapse.
They will also learn to manage stressors and triggers in healthy ways which don’t involve drug use.
Get Subutex Addiction Treatment Today
As you can see, there are lots of addiction treatment options for people struggling to give up Subutex. Do you or someone you love need help overcoming Subutex addiction? If so, we can help at Revive Detox.
We offer a variety of programs to help people struggling with a variety of addictions. Contact us today to learn more about your options for Subutex addiction treatment.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.