First and foremost, what is Subutex? What is it used for?
Subutex is a brand name of the generic buprenorphine, which is used to treat opioid dependence. Opioids are prescription drugs that include things like oxycodone, as well as the illicit street drug heroin.
The U.S. is currently in the midst of a severe opioid epidemic, and drugs like Subutex are being relied upon to help users move away from their addiction to opioids. In some cases, Subutex or buprenorphine may be used for other reasons, such as a pain reliever, but this is less common.
The active ingredient of Subutex, which is buprenorphine, is known as an opioid partial agonist. This means that it interacts with the same receptors in the brain as opioids do, but it doesn’t cause people to feel the high that these drugs would. When you take Subutex, the theory is that you don’t experience the cravings for opioids that you would otherwise.
It’s essentially a way to trick your brain into thinking you’ve been exposed to opioids, which can help prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms occur because your body has become physically dependent on the presence of opioids to bind to these certain central nervous system receptors. When the opioids aren’t present on the receptors, it sends your body into a type of shock. This can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, which make it difficult to stop using opioids.
What happens when Subutex is taken is that it binds to these certain receptors, but without allowing for the euphoric effects of other drugs. If you were to take another opioid, the buprenorphine wouldn’t let it bind to these receptors.
Since buprenorphine is a partial agonist, it means it can’t activate opioid receptors enough to create euphoria. It’s also unlikely that buprenorphine would slow respiration enough to lead to an overdose, as commonly happens with opioids.
There are two drugs that are often confused with one another, which are Subutex and Suboxone. Subutex is different from Suboxone because it contains only one active ingredient: buprenorphine. Suboxone, on the other hand, contains both buprenorphine and something else called naloxone, which is added to help prevent abuse of the medicine.