Subutex is one of the brand name forms of the drug buprenorphine. It is a partial opioid antagonist that affects opioid receptors in ways used to treat opioid addiction. Subutex helps to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms people experience when they stop taking more potent opioids such as heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl.
It is usually administered as a dissolvable tablet that is placed under the tongue and allowed to melt. Subutex is weaker than the opioids which are often abused. It also causes fewer side effects than methadone and is less likely to be abused.
Buprenorphine works by stimulating the same opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system that full opioid agonists do. However, the effects are minimal, and taking higher doses doesn’t increase the effects. To better understand how buprenorphine works, you first need to understand how drugs like heroin affect the brain.
When a full opioid agonist like heroin or fentanyl binds to an opioid receptor, it activates that receptor to the fullest extent possible and this produces rapid pain relief and euphoria. This is why oxycodone and hydrocodone are so effective at reducing pain and also why they are highly addictive. People enjoy the feel-good effects and relaxation. In contrast, Subutex activates the opioid receptors only minimally so the euphoria is significantly reduced. Furthermore, there’s not much pain relief and the effects come on a lot more gradually.
While Subutex can help people who are struggling with opioid addiction, it can also be addictive. This may be surprising but you need to keep in mind that Subutex is an opioid drug. While the user won’t experience a euphoric high, their brain and body can still become dependent on the drug. A person who is addicted to Subutex and stops using it abruptly will experience effects similar to those associated with morphine, heroin, methadone, and other opioids. However, these symptoms are usually less intense.
How Subutex is Used in Addiction Treatment
As a partial opioid agonist Subutex is generally only prescribed for short-term use. Patients often use it for just the first two days after they stop taking opioids and it can help soothe the cravings of opioid receptors quite effectively and reduce both physical and psychological symptoms. After this, doctors switch them over to Suboxone or another combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. However, some people don’t tolerate these drugs well. In such a case, the doctor may recommend that they continue using Subutex while also participating in an addiction treatment program that includes therapy and peer support.
If the individual becomes dependent, they will work with their doctor to gradually reduce their buprenorphine use until they no longer need to use it. After this, they should look out for any side effects they experience. Individuals should also continue the activities they engage in to support their recovery, such as counseling or 12-step meetings. It is important to understand that Subutex doesn’t cure addiction or replace rehab. It simply helps people struggling with addiction manage their withdrawal symptoms.
How Subutex Can Be Abused
It was initially thought that Subutex had a very low potential for abuse. However, this view changed over time as buprenorphine misuse and abuse increased and the drug was sold on the black market. People who abuse Subutex usually inject intravenously or crush the pills into a powder and snort it. Among patients treated for opioid addiction, a significant percentage misuse buprenorphine. Some have been prescribed the drug to treat opioid addiction while others access it on the street or from people who have prescriptions.
Dangers of Buprenorphine Misuse
Even though Subutex isn’t a full opioid agonist, it is a powerful partial opioid agonist, and misusing and abusing it can lead to serious consequences including overdose.
Symptoms of Subutex overdose include:
- Low blood pressure
- Depressed respiration
- Pinpoint pupils
Newborns whose mothers abused buprenorphine during pregnancy may also develop neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Infant Subutex withdrawal symptoms include tremors, apnea, convulsions, irritability, and respiratory depression. These symptoms tend to be less intense than those that result from the use of full opioid agonists. Babies with mild physical symptoms can recover without treatment.
Injecting Subutex can also put an individual at increased risk of hepatitis and HIV since they may share needles and other paraphernalia with other people. The psychological symptoms of intravenous use, such as greater attachment to the ritual of preparation, as well as the immediacy of effects, can make withdrawals more severe for IV users.
What are Subutex Withdrawals Like?
Withdrawal from Subutex can definitely occur if you suddenly stop using the drug. The symptoms can be both mental and physical and they include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood swings
- Subutex cravings
Each person will have a unique experience. Symptoms vary depending on the length of time the person was taking Subutex, how often they used it, and the dosage they took. However, Subutex withdrawal is typically uncomfortable but not dangerous or deadly.
You may be asking “how long does withdrawal symptoms start after stopping Subutex?”. If you stop using the drug suddenly, symptoms usually begin around 48 hours after the last dose and they can continue for up to ten days. The third day is usually the hardest and many people relapse at this point. This is why a gradual tapering off tends to be more successful. The tapering schedule is usually between 7 and 28 days.
Managing Withdrawal from Subutex
The first step in recovering from a Subutex addition is to be evaluated by a medical professional. They will assess the severity of your addiction in an effort to come up with the best type of treatment for your needs. After you’ve been evaluated, you can enter detox. Since your body will struggle to function without Subutex, you will experience withdrawal. People who are going through withdrawal from Subutex need to undergo medical supervision because the side effects can be extremely uncomfortable.
When you enroll in a detox facility, you’ll likely get increasingly smaller doses of the drug over a long period so that withdrawal is gradual and symptoms are properly controlled. Still, you’ll need to be patient while your body returns to normal, healthy functioning.
Once the most severe withdrawals from Subutex have passed, you’ll be able to benefit from individual counseling, group therapy, and other types of treatment designed to help you stay clean. This treatment may need to be intensive at first. If you were enrolled in inpatient treatment, you’ll need aftercare when you return to the community.
Even when Subutex is completely out of your system, you may still experience cravings for the drug. This is because addiction is a chronic disease and while it can be treated, it can’t be cured. That’s why you need to learn how to manage triggers and deal with cravings. Ongoing support from professionals and peers is essential. In addition to cognitive-behavioral therapy, you may benefit from family counseling, yoga, meditation, 12-step programs, and other types of treatment.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Subutex Detox
Detox and rehab can take place either on an inpatient or an outpatient basis. With inpatient or residential treatment, the individual lives at a facility with other people struggling with addiction, and they are monitored by professionals during the treatment process. Meanwhile, if you enter an outpatient program, you’ll continue to live at home but you’ll attend frequent counseling sessions and drug administration sessions at a facility.
A doctor will control the dosage and timing of Subutex as you go through the detox process. Detox will run until the drug is completely out of your system and your withdrawal symptoms have subsided. After detox, you’ll need further treatment to prevent relapse.
Whether you enter residential or outpatient treatment will depend on your personal circumstances and how severe your addiction is. If you are using buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction, you may be put on a tapering schedule and gradually weaned off the drug. However, if you were abusing buprenorphine for recreational purposes, it may be best to undergo a full detox.
Other Strategies to Overcome Subutex Withdrawals
There are some simple strategies that help you during the withdrawal process. These include:
- Drinking more fluids than usual to prevent dehydration
- Eating a nutritious, balanced diet so you get enough vitamins and electrolytes
- Meditating, listening to music, or practicing other relaxation techniques to manage agitation and anxiety
- Engaging in mild to moderate exercise to combat restlessness
- Working with your doctor or a physical therapist to find safe ways to manage pain
- Reading or finding a hobby so you have something else to focus on
- Getting support from individuals who have gone through a similar process
Can I Detox from Subutex at Home?
Some people want to detox at home because they don’t have a prescription for Subutex and they don’t have a relationship with a doctor. Others are concerned that they won’t be able to afford professional treatment. However, addiction is considered a medical illness and insurance companies typically offer coverage. For most people, therefore, insurance is the best way to pay for rehab. Be sure to reach out to your insurance provider to find out what type of care your policy covers.
Some people who detox at home do so by quitting cold turkey. Medical professionals don’t recommend this since the body can go into shock. Withdrawal symptoms can arise faster and be much more severe than they would be if the individual was weaned off under supervision.
Some people hear about the dangers of abruptly coming off Subutex and they try to taper off on their own. While tapering is supported by medical professionals, it’s still best to be supervised while you do it. Trying to detox on your own increases the likelihood of failure even if you taper off. Relapsing is discouraging and psychologically distressing for individuals and it can make it harder to try to get clean again.
What’s the Difference Between Subutex and Suboxone Withdrawal?
As we noted earlier, Suboxone is a medication that is also used to treat opioid addiction and it contains a mixture of buprenorphine and naloxone. Unlike Subutex, it is suitable for long-term use but like Subutex, Suboxone can be addictive. Coming off Suboxone cold turkey will cause you to experience withdrawal effects. The severity and duration of the symptoms will vary depending on how long you used the drug and how much you took.
A General Subutex Withdrawal Timeline
Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Drug cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Muscle and body aches
- Problems concentrating
Most of the physical symptoms are experienced within the first 72 hours and withdrawal symptoms are generally at their worst during this period. Physical Suboxone withdrawals usually go away after a month but psychological symptoms can continue for several months.
As the first week progresses, people usually experience aches and pains, insomnia, and mood swings. Depression is the most significant symptom after the second week. Even after a month, individuals are often still experiencing depression and intense cravings. This is when the risk of relapse is at its highest.
Because the Subutex and Suboxone withdrawal timeline can be drawn out, anyone who has stopped taking this drug needs to work with a medical professional to prevent relapse. If you want to quit using Subutex or suboxone because you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, professional support is especially important. A doctor may recommend a sped-up tapering schedule or prescribe methadone, which can be safe for use during pregnancy.
Manage Your Withdrawal Comfortably at Divine Detox
If you are recovering from an opioid addiction, you may have been given Subutex or Suboxone to help relieve your withdrawal symptoms. Maybe you’ve been using these drugs recreationally and things have spiraled out of control. In either case, you need to seek help. Instead of quitting abruptly, reach out to our top-rated addiction treatment facility to find out how you can become opioid-free.
Treatment needs to be tailored specifically to your needs so it’s important that you talk to the professionals at Divine Detox and get an expert assessment. Call our toll-free number today and have a confidential chat with one of the team members at our luxury detox facility.