Buprenorphine is a semisynthetic partial opioid and an agonist-antagonist of the opioid receptors in the brain. It is an analgesic for pain. The properties of Subutex are the same as those of morphine. It binds to the receptors that have been affected by opioids. Subutex attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors and blocks other opioids from sticking to those receptors. Its partial agonist properties mean that it can activate the opioid receptors enough to stop a person from feeling sick but not enough to create a feeling of euphoria.
Buprenorphine was approved by the FDA in 2002 as a Schedule III narcotic to be used in opiate detox and to treat opioid dependence. It produces less respiratory depression symptoms and milder withdrawal symptoms than methadone, oxycodone, heroin, or morphine. Buprenorphine blocks the mu receptors in the brain, interfering with opioid interaction.
However, this drug also affects the kappa opioid receptors, those responsible for mood, and can create a feeling of well-being. For this reason, buprenorphine abuse can develop. It should be noted that buprenorphine in other forms is not approved for treatment of opioid addictions. Like Suboxone, Subutex can only be legally used to treat opiate dependence when prescribed by a trained physician. It has very specific uses during detox and opiate drug rehab. If a woman is in treatment and pregnant with substance abuse problem, Subutex is the drug of choice to treat her opioid detox. If the patient has an allergic reaction to Naloxone, which is also found in Suboxone, then Subutex can be substituted. The use of these drugs is for short-term treatment of opiate dependence as Subutex is addictive and will induce uncomfortable, sometimes painful, withdrawal symptoms.
- Slurred speech
- Decrease in respiration
- Increased sweating
- Back pain
- Sleep problems
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