Subutex is also known as Buprenorphine because of its active ingredient, buprenorphine HCL.
It is a tablet form medication used as a maintenance treatment for recovering opioid users and in pain management. As a partial agonist at the mu-receptor, Subutex helps prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Subutex (Buprenorphine) has approved Subutex as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT).2 This means that Subutex should be used as part of other addiction treatment programs such as counseling, compliance monitoring, and other recovery-focused therapies for people with opioid use disorder (OUD).
Buprenorphine is the first medication accessible through prescription by physicians conducting opioid treatment programs (OTPs).
However, its accessibility is not limited to OTPs only as various law provisions such as the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000) and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) provide for accessibility through qualified physicians with adequate training.3
Before you start using Subutex, read through the medication guide provided by your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
It’s recommended to abstain from opioid use for at least 12 to 24 hours (or until the opioid levels in the blood are significantly low before taking the medication), or it could cause precipitated withdrawal syndrome. Subutex works effectively during the early onset of withdrawal.
Usually, Subutex is used once a day. Place the tablet under your tongue, sublingual, and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes to allow complete dissolution. Avoid swallowing, chewing, or injecting as it may lead to overdose or death.
Subutex dosage is based on the patient’s medical condition and response to treatment. Do not take higher doses or take it for longer than prescribed. Even when you forgot to take your dose, never try to compensate for the missed dose by taking a double dose.
The duration of Subutex therapy is customized to the specific needs of each patient, and in certain instances, treatment may be indefinite. Individuals may participate in ongoing treatment—with or without MAT—to avoid relapse. When the time comes to stop taking Subutex, do so faithfully.
The most important thing is to follow the doctor’s instructions. Your health practitioner or pharmacist should be able to answer all your questions regarding the proper use of Subutex and other treatment options that exist.
Taking Subutex can cause various side effects, from common/mild to severe.
Common side effects include:
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Constipation, nausea, and headache
- Dry mouth
Severe side effects include:
- Respiratory issues
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Nerve damage, itching, and swelling
- Neonatal abstinence syndrome
- Painful or difficult urination
The above list does not include all side effects of Subutex. Patients should consult their healthcare practitioners or pharmacists to get more information.
Both patients and practitioners are also urged to report any side effects they experience to any nearby pharmacist.