|Drug Class||Mixed opioid agonist-antagonists|
|Working||Works by preventing the withdrawal symptoms
caused by stopping other opioids
|Kicks In||Less than half an hour (for pain)|
|Lasts Long||Up to 24 hours (for pain)|
|Treatment Period||Over 12 months (for therapy)|
Subutex is a prescription medicine, which is used to treat opioid use (pain drug) disorder. It can be taken in various ways – by placing the tablet under the tongue, or in the cheek, by injecting it, or as a skin patch (sublingual). It may also be given to you for other treatments also, talk to your doctor about this. Subutex is considered a major part of the medical, social, and psychological treatment program for those people who are suffering from opioid use disorder. Its active ingredient contains buprenorphine (as hydrochloride). Drugs like heroin, morphine, oxycodone, or codeine can be replaced with Subutex as it helps in withdrawal with these opioids.
How does Subutex work?
Depending on the type of opioid receptor present in the brain, it can act as an agonist, partial agonist, or antagonist. So, it prevents withdrawal symptoms produced by stopping other opioids.
It treats people with opioid use disorder. One should patiently wait for some withdrawal symptoms to show, then only Subutex can bind to the receptors. After that, the dosage is regularly adjusted throughout the treatment.
It may also be used for the treatment of chronic pain. A transdermal patch is available for the same. These patches are prescribed for those kinds of pain that don’t last long.
Subutex can be used for several other reasons also. Talk with your doctor about this.
Read the prescription usage guide as suggested by your doctor or your pharmacist. Do not take Subutex on your own. Inform your doctor beforehand about any medication or any supplements you are taking, or it can interfere with your normal body metabolism and interact with Subutex.
Place the drug under the tongue for at least 5 to 10 minutes and let it dissolve properly. If more than one tablet has been prescribed, place all of them together or a minimum of two under your tongue for dissolving. Do not chew or swallow them as it may not work well.
You should start taking Subutex after 2 days of stopping other opioids. Avoid misusing it as it may not help with your present condition. Subutex along with certain other drugs can be used as a maintenance treatment.
The medication works well when taken with the first signs of opioid withdrawal. If started too soon, can cause severe side effects.
You should begin with the lowest effective dosage so that the drug adjusts with your body. Also, do not suddenly stop taking the medication because sudden discontinuation of Subutex can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
You should take this drug at strict regular intervals for maximum benefits. If you miss a single dose, it can cause a reversal of the treatment.
After you take Subutex for a longer period, your body may become used to the drug or it may not work well. Your doctor may increase or decrease your dosage to reduce your discomfort.
Inform your doctor if you are not getting better or it becomes worse.
Common side effects include nausea, drowsiness, headache, or constipation. Seek medical help if problems persist for long. Get up slowly if you feel dizzy or lightheaded. Eat dietary fibers to prevent constipation.
If abused, injected, or mixed with other opioids or depressants, can cause severe breathing problems.
Serious side effects include mental/mood changes, abdominal pain, weight loss, and interrupted breathing during sleep. The most severe of them is respiratory depression. It occurs when Subutex is taken along with alcohol.
Withdrawal may occur if stopped abruptly, and symptoms may include diarrhea, muscle stiffness/shakiness, or irritability. Notify your doctor right away about the changes you feel.
Subutex in some cases can cause serious liver disease. Contact your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of liver damage, including dark urine, loss of appetite, yellowing eyes or skin, abdominal pain.
Do not take Subutex tablets if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Get medical help if you see any symptoms of an allergic reaction, rash, itching/swelling, severe dizziness, trouble breathing, although allergic symptoms are rare.
Subutex is also associated with the risk of psychological dependence. It has a half-life of about 24 to 60 hours. One should be under medical supervision to prevent withdrawal.
Avoid taking Subutex during pregnancy as it may pose harm to your developing fetus.
Inform your doctor about all your prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking as it may interfere with the normal functioning of Subutex. Inform your doctor if you are having alcohol as it can lead to suppression of brain activity, resulting in sedation, behavioral changes, and intoxication.
Certain pain medications like nalbuphine or butorphanol can interact with Subutex and can cause severe side effects.
Drugs including dofetilide, ibutilide, quinidine, etc., can alter normal heart rhythm upon interaction.
- It may affect your ability to drive, so be safe not to take it when you plan to drive. It is a criminal offense when you drive under the influence of this drug.
- Do not chew, snort, or inject the drug as it can harm you.
- It should not be taken for uses other than intended.
- Your blood pressure may drop suddenly upon administration of Subutex, so don’t panic. Also, get up safely as it may feel dizzy.
- Remember to keep this drug out of the reach of children or where it is inaccessible for them.
- Do not take Subutex tablets if you are allergic to any of its additives. Also, do not take multiple pills or it can cause overdosing and severe side effects.
- Do not discontinue the medication abruptly or it may lead to some side effects and comeback of withdrawal symptoms.
- Do not store the tablets above 30°C temperature.
- Store in the original nylon/aluminum/uPVC blister packs.
- You should discard the package after 2 years as the shelf life is 2 years only.
- Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
- Store in a tight, light-resistant container with a child-resistant safety and closure.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does Subutex work?
Subutex contains Buprenorphine that works in two ways:
- It displaces other opioids from the receptors they occupy in the brain.
- Then, it binds tightly to these same receptors, so that other opioids cannot occupy them.
Thus, it prevents withdrawal symptoms produced by stopping other opioids.
Can Subutex make you sleepy?
Opioids are generally associated with symptoms like tiredness and weakness. As a result, you may feel a bit sleepy after taking the medication.
Can Subutex cause high blood pressure?
No. However, your blood pressure may drop suddenly upon administration of Subutex. So, consult your doctor regarding this issue.
Can Subutex be used for pain?
Subutex may be used for the treatment of chronic pain. A transdermal patch is available for the same. These patches are prescribed for those kinds of pain that don’t last long.
Can Subutex be used when pregnant?
Since Subutex is an opioid, it is generally not prescribed during pregnancy as it may harm your developing fetus.
Will Subutex work if swallowed?
Subutex will not work properly when swallowed. You should keep the tablets under your tongue and let them dissolve on their own.
Will Subutex make you gain weight?
Regular use of Subutex makes people feel tiring. It can lead to weight gain.