Subutex is an opioid-type medicine, which contains the active ingredient buprenorphine. Opioids act in the same way as other strong painkillers such as codeine, morphine, and heroin. Subutex works by mimicking the natural endorphins that are found in the brain and spinal cord.
The main use for subutex is as a substitute for heroin. Subutex is different from methadone another heroin substitutes as the effect on the brain is not as strong. Subutex is taken orally and the tablet must be placed under the tongue for it to work as it is absorbed straight into the blood stream, if it is swallowed it will not work. Some of the side effects of Subutex can be, an unexpected drop in blood pressure that may result in feeling faint when standing up to quickly. Other possible side effects also include headaches, insomnia , constipation and nausea. The long term side effects are addiction, as subutex is highly addictive and can also cause overdose, which can occur if taken with other medication or alcohol.
Many people feel clearer headed with subutex compared with methadone. It also tends to be more comfortable from which to detox. The other benefits of subutex are that it reduces cravings for heroin and it also contains a blocking effect so if heroin is used on top of the subutex the effects of the heroin are cancelled out. If you are using heroin you need to wait at least 8 hours after your last use before taking the subutex or between 24 – 36 hours after your last use of methadone. The reason for this is in order for subutex to be effective it is necessary to have a low level of methadone or heroin in your system. You need to be feeling slight withdrawals before starting use of subutex otherwise it can cause withdrawals to start suddenly. The first 2-3 days of taking subutex there may be uncomfortable feelings but the craving to use heroin will not be there. Subutex can be dangerous, even fatal if used with other drugs such as anti depressants, strong painkillers, tranquilizers, sleeping tablets, alcohol, etc. If subutex is injected the risk of overdose and death is even higher.
Subutex is becoming increasingly easier and cheaper to obtain on the black market compared with other drugs, and this is amplifying the number of addictions to subutex. Subutex was first licensed in the U.K for treatment of opioid addiction in 1999. Studies made by the UN International Narcotics control board found that between 2000 and 2004 the consumption of subutex tripled due to the fact that subutex has become more accessible and cheaper than heroin.