One of the most common ways to treat opioid addiction is through replacement drugs. Drugs like Buprenorphine, Bubrenex, Suboxone and Subutex and just some of these. All of the drugs are considered Buprenorphine products and also have very similar effects as well as side effects.
While they are opioids, they are said to be far milder than other opioids like morphine, oxycodone or fentanyl. Therefore the theory is that these drugs are ‘safe’ to be used to gradually ease an addict from opioid addiction. Just how safe are these drugs, though? Is it possible to become addicted to them?
Unfortunately, the answer is “yes” as everyday people struggle with addictions to these Buprenorphine products. Some have started taking them as a substitute to resolving an addiction to a prescription painkiller opioid drug or heroin. Others may have come across them on the street, using them because they were not educated on the effects or because the needed a quick fix when withdrawing from another opiate.
These drugs are also approved to treat acute pain for those with no history of opiate addiction as well as chronic pain. The drugs come in injectable forms as well as oral liquid and sublingual.
As stated above the drugs Buprenorphine, Bubrenex, Suboxone and Subutex are all related drugs used legally to help curb addictions to opiates. These substances are available as Subutex, pure buprenorphine, or Suboxone, a combination drug. These are the only two FDA-approved forms of these drugs. Bubrenex, a solution used for injection, is not approved for the treatment of opioid addiction. Subutex and Suboxone are administered sublingually (under the tongue).
Buprenorphine is administered gradually. In low doses it provides enough of the drug in the system to prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms, and over time doses are increased to moderate levels. At this point, however, the effects reach a plateau and the effects do not increase with further increases in dose. This is known as the “ceiling effect”. It is because of this ceiling effect that buprenorphine has a low potential for addiction.
Drug Histories of Buprenorphine Bubrenex Suboxone Subutex
Of this group of drugs Buprenorphine was the first known substance. It was derived from a opiate alkaloid called Thebaine which is chemically similar to both morphine and codeine. The substance was not marketed until the 1980s when a sublingual tablet was promoted. Later an injectable form was also available. The substance was introduced by a company called Reckitt Benckiser.
Initially this drug was used as a basic painkiller. In 2002 with the birth of Suboxone and Subutex they were approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in handling opiate dependency in long term users.
In the United States these substances were classified as Schedule III drugs meaning:
• That they have less “potential for abuse” than other drug, which are in the Schedule I and Schedule II categories.
• That they are allowed or, accepted to be used medically.
• And, with that said there is still a risk for dependence or addiction both mental and physical.
Some take these drugs on a twice-daily basis while others may have to have a dose administered to them every 2 to 3 days. Other users are given a 30-day take home of the drugs. This can be dangerous for a recovering addict as they could take more of the medications then allowed to try to achieve a high from it. The other problem with this is mixing the drugs with any other opiate like heroin or prescription pain drugs. The outcome of this is often deadly and ends in overdose and even death.
While early studies indicated that Buprenorphine products like Bubrenex, Suboxone and Subtex may be able to resolve opiate abuse problems, the issues with them have grown with their increased use.
For a small percentage, opiate replacement therapy has helped them to be “free of illicit and prescription drugs” and stay out of rehabilitation, hospitals and prison. For others a number of problems have occurred including becoming addicted to these drugs, chronic relapse, overdose and death.
There are a number of factors that determine addictive potential, but the three main factors are the speed of onset, the level of pleasure (euphoria) it provides, and the duration of action. Drugs with short, intense cycles are more likely to be addictive than those with longer and milder effects. Heroin, for example, provides a fast, strong high. Hence, its strong addictive properties.
Buprenorphine has a slow onset, mild effect and a long duration. While it does still provide a “high,” it is not as desirable as other opioids like heroin or oxycodone. Users can get a stronger rush by injecting it, but in its sublingual form it is less addictive.
Buprenorphine can be a silent addiction, as it creeps up unexpectedly over time. It can be especially difficult to recognize if one is battling an addiction to another opioid.
Therefore users as well as family members and other loves ones should watch for the following signs of buprenorphine addiction:
• The user may have a lot of attention on obtaining or consuming Buprenorphine, Bubrenex, Suboxone or Subutex.
• He may exhibit an uncontrollable compulsion to take these drugs.
• He will have strong cravings for the drugs that can’t be soothed.
• He will continue to use these buprenorphine products despite negative consequences.
• He may “doctor-shop” to get more than one prescription, falsify prescriptions or buy it on the black market.
While buprenorphine is safer than heroin and other strong opioids, it is still a drug with the potential for addiction. There is no safe addiction, no matter the degree.
In very high doses, buprenorphine can precipitate opioid withdrawal symptoms and make the user ill. Signs of opioid withdrawal include:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Muscle aches or cramps
• Mild fever
Respiratory depression because of overdose is possible, and there is some evidence of organ damage besides being taxing to the liver. Information is limited about use during pregnancy, and methadone remains standard care for opioid-addicted mothers. Some say that these drugs are less addictive and dangerous than the other replacement substance, methadone but the facts still remains that they do have a series of side effects and an addictive potential for any user.