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What is Subutex?

Subutex, also known as buprenorphine, is an opioid medication. It helps treat opioid use disorder, chronic pain, and acute pain.

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How to take Subutex?

Read the instruction sheets given by your pharmacist before you start taking sublingual buprenorphine and every time you get a refill. If you have any queries regarding medication doses, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Use the medicine as per the doctor’s prescription, usually one time a day. Place the pill under your tongue for approximately 10 minutes and let it dissolve completely. If you need more than one tablet a day, you can place another tablet under your tongue right away or put two pills at a time under the tongue. Do not chew or swallow this medication; it may not work well enough.

Buprenorphine (Subutex) alone is usually helpful for the first two days after you stop taking all other opioids. Typically, the medical team gives it in a doctor’s office or clinic. Then, your doctor will switch you to the combination of naloxone or buprenorphine medication for maintenance treatment. The naloxone combination works the same way as buprenorphine alone to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Its combination with naloxone prevents misuse (injection) of the medication.

Buprenorphine works best when you start the first dose after opioid withdrawal signs have begun. It can cause withdrawal symptoms if you start it too soon after your last opioid use.

Do not suddenly stop taking this medication, or it could cause withdrawal symptoms, especially if you were using it for a long duration or in high doses. To prevent withdrawal, your doctor may help you to lower your dosage gradually. Tell each of your medical healthcare providers if you face any withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Restlessness;
  • Watery eyes;
  • Mental or mood changes including trouble sleeping, anxiety, thoughts of suicide;
  • Runny nose;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Nausea;
  • Muscle aches;
  • Sweating; or
  • Sudden changes in behavior

Do not inject buprenorphine. It is dangerous to inject and may result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Inform your doctor if there is no improvement in your condition, it is bothersome, or if it gets worse.

What to know before taking Subutex?

Before taking Subutex, tell the doctor if you are allergic to it or if you have other allergies. This product may have inactive ingredients, which can result in an allergic reaction or other issues.

You should discuss your medical history with your doctor or pharmacist, especially of:

  • Breathing problems such as sleep apnea, asthma, COPD-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • Brain disorders such as a tumor, head injury, seizures;
  • Mental or mood disorders such as depression, confusion;
  • Liver disease;
  • Stomach or intestinal problems such as constipation, blockage, paralytic ileus, diarrhea due to infection; or
  • Difficulty urinating due to enlarged prostate

This drug may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Avoid driving or using any machinery or do anything that requires alertness. Avoid consumption of alcohol. Alcohol can increase your risk of breathing problems.

Buprenorphine (Subutex) may result in a condition that affects the heart rhythm or QT prolongation. Rarely, QT prolongation can cause severe fast or irregular heartbeat and other symptoms like fainting, severe dizziness requiring immediate medical attention.

What are the benefits of using Subutex?

Subutex helps treat pain drug (opioid) addiction. The formulated combination of buprenorphine/naloxone is an opioid antagonist.

A transdermal patch of this medicine is available for the treatment of chronic pain. This patch is not for use in acute pain or pain after injury and opioid addiction treatment.

What are the side effects of Subutex?

Dizziness, drowsiness, headache, or constipation may occur. If any of these effects are bothersome and persists, tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

To prevent constipation, drink enough water, eat dietary fiber, and exercise. You may require a laxative after proper medical consultation.

To reduce the risk of lightheadedness and dizziness, stand up slowly while getting up from a sitting or lying position.

Severe breathing problems may occur if one abuse, inject or mix this drug with other depressants such as alcohol, benzodiazepines (diazepam), other opioid medications.

Go for emergency medical help if you have severe side effects, including:

  • Mental or mood changes such as confusion, agitation, hallucinations;
  • Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep);
  • Stomach or abdominal pain;
  • Signs of non-efficient functioning of adrenal glands such as weight loss, unusual tiredness;
  • Fainting;
  • Severe dizziness;
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat;
  • Unusual drowsiness or difficulty in waking up; or
  • Shallow breathing

It is unlikely to have a severe allergic reaction due to this drug. However, seek medical attention if you notice any signs of a severe allergic reaction, including severe dizziness, rash, trouble breathing, itching, or swelling of your face, throat, or tongue.

It is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Take your doctor’s medical advice regarding side effects. Report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

How Subutex works?

Subutex works by displacing other opioids bound to the receptors and accelerate an acute withdrawal. The dose of Subutex leads to adjustment until symptoms improve and individuals remain on maintenance dose through the treatment.

It works in the form of a transdermal patch to treat chronic pain. When an individual uses it as a transdermal patch, the potency of buprenorphine maybe 100-115 times that of morphine.

It affects different types of opioid receptors in different ways. Based on the type of receptor, it may be agonist, partial agonist, or antagonist.

What to avoid while using Subutex?

Avoid consumption of alcohol. It can result in dangerous side effects, or death could occur.

Avoid driving a vehicle or operating any machinery until you know this medicine’s effect on you. Drowsiness or dizziness can cause accidental falls or severe injuries.