Control is something that we all yearn for. Every day we hope to be able to control the day as we go about it. We hope to control our interactions with others and so much more. And while it’s a fact of life that there are limits to our control, we still try. In some cases, we may even struggle to control ourselves.
People suffering from addiction have enough to contend with, and the very little control their condition allows them is just another huge obstacle they must overcome. There used to be a time when addiction itself wasn’t seen as a disease and so had no treatment. Luckily, those days are long gone.
Medicine and technology are expanding our understanding of diseases like addiction every day. Now there are treatments that can help people overcome addiction and get better. One of those treatments is Subutex.
What is Subutex?
Subutex is the brand name for a medication called buprenorphine. It is a sublingual tablet, meaning it is administered or ingested by placing it under the tongue and leaving it there to dissolve. Its appearance is an uncoated, flat white oval tablet with a beveled edge. On one side, it is debossed with an alphanumeric word that identifies the product and strength.
Each tablet contains buprenorphine HCI, lactose, mannitol, cornstarch, povidone K30, citric acid, sodium citrate, and magnesium stearate. You can get it at two different dosage strengths: 2 mg or 8 mg.
Buprenorphine is a drug that is used to treat opioid addiction. Although the sublingual tablet cannot treat pain, other forms of buprenorphine are used to treat or alleviate moderate to severe pain. Another possible use for it is as an anesthetic. It is 20 to 50 times more potent than morphine.
In 2002 the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two buprenorphine products—Subutex and Suboxone—to help treat narcotics abuse and addiction. Buprenorphine is an opioid drug, and just like any opiate, it has the potential to be abused. That is why its use for helping patients must be closely monitored and only at the advice of a professional. Used properly, this drug can provide people suffering from opioid or heroin addiction to quit with reduced discomfort.
It’s an alternative way to help them recover without suffering through the challenging withdrawal symptoms. This treatment basically helps to wean people off the drug. They can slowly but surely lower their dosage intake until they are finally drug-free. However, Subutex cannot be used for long-term opioid maintenance treatment. The more appropriate drug for that is Suboxone, which is a mix of buprenorphine and naloxone and has a lower risk of abuse.
As stated, Subutex is a sublingual medication. It can take anywhere from two minutes to ten for the tablet to dissolve fully. It cannot be chewed or swallowed as this can affect how effectively your body can absorb it. There shouldn’t be a problem with consuming two at a time if you happen to be prescribed more than one tablet. The effects can also last from 24 to 72 hours.
There wasn’t much anyone could do to help people suffering from opioid addiction for a long time. No matter how many lives it took or ruined, there just weren’t enough options or opportunities to help people. Finally, science and medicine have caught up with the promise of hope and treatment for people all over the country. People have options, and to find the best solutions that can help them recover, it is essential to understand the differences between the different medications.
The Drug, Glass
Glass refers to methamphetamine, better known as crystal meth. Meth abuse, addiction, and death have always been alarmingly high in the country, and it only continues to rise. However, in the 12-month period ending in June 2020, there were over 19,600 meth and cocaine-related deaths. Unlike opioid addiction, there are no medications to specifically treat glass addiction and alleviate its withdrawal symptoms.
Instead, doctors are turning to existing drugs that are already FDA approved to try and help patients. Research and trials have found that a combination of opioid medication and antidepressants has been effective in achieving similar results with meth patients. Buprenorphine helps to reduce methamphetamine cravings more effectively compared to other opioid drugs.
Subutex Side Effects
Like any other medication, Subutex also presents quite a few side effects. Some are more normal and none too inconvenient, while others might be more difficult to deal with. The more common side effects are:
- constipation and diarrhea
- dizziness and headaches
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach pain
- warmth or tingly feeling and chills
- increased sweating,
- back pain and weakness
- anxiety, nervousness, and depression
- sleep problems (insomnia)
- cough and runny nose
- watery eyes
If you find yourself dealing with severe side effects, make sure to inform your doctor or anyone close to you as soon as possible. While side effects are expected, it’s best to be careful when dealing with drugs of this level. Let whoever is monitoring you know how your body responds to the medication and how you’re handling it. Should there be any complications, it’s best to figure out a solution as soon as possible.
How Does Subutex Compare to Suboxone and Methadone?
As mentioned, Subutex and Suboxone are more easily comparable since these are the two buprenorphine products that are FDA-approved. In terms of effectiveness, there’s not much evidence to support that one is better than the other. When taken correctly, under medical supervision, both of these drugs should work as stated. It should help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms in people suffering from addiction and eventually wean them off.
However, the most significant difference only lies in the potential for it to be abused. Since both of them are opioids drugs, there is a potential for abuse. Unlike Subutex, Suboxone has naloxone, an ingredient that helps prevent people from possibly overdosing on Suboxone. It prevents people from experiencing the addictive and euphoric sensations commonly cause by opioids. So while neither of the two is precisely “better,” it depends on the condition of the person being treated.
It should be noted that these medications alone cannot help a patient recover. Subutex and Suboxone are the only drugs that can help people manage and cope through withdrawal. But addiction is a mental health issue that requires other treatments, particularly therapy, to heal.
Understand as well that because substance abuse is often only a symptom of a much larger problem within individuals. Other times, it can also be caused by the addictive characteristic of certain substances. Therefore to truly help people heal from this disease, they need holistic treatment and a solid support system.
Methadone is like buprenorphine in that it is the ingredient, not the name of the drug. It’s sold under different brand names like Dolophine and Methadone, among other names. Similar to buprenorphine, methadone is a synthetic opioid that is also used to treat addiction in patients.
It provides patients with the same euphoria and sensations as other opioids while eliminating the dangerous aspects of cravings and withdrawal pain. It can also be used to manage chronic pain.
The good thing about methadone is that it is more of a long-acting drug compared to others. A patient can reach a certain dosage and maintain that level for a long time. Methadone is a lot more potent and produces a very similar euphoric effect as other opioids. There’s rarely a need to increase the dosage to achieve the desired result.
However, that is also what makes it more dangerous. Methadone is a highly controlled substance, as while it is used as a treatment for opioid abuse, it poses a considerable risk for addiction. The euphoric effects of Subutex and Suboxone are less intense, which reduces the risk for abuse. You can only receive methadone from certified opioid treatment programs, while the other two can be prescribed to be taken at home.
Things are not as they used to be when once there were little to no options on how to help people suffering from addiction effectively, now there are options. Knowing each medication’s various characteristics and risks is vital in deciding what treatment will help you the best. There are many ways to heal now and a better and continuously developing understanding of drug addiction today.