Coping with an addiction is a painful and arduous task, but addicts never should feel alone. Most drug addicts suffer from severe depression, anxiety, and isolation. The act of abusing drugs forces them into a life of seclusion; far away from their loved ones. What addicts must understand is that they are not alone in their struggle with addiction. Contrary to their belief, their addiction affects all of those people around them; especially the ones they love. Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disorder that can completely take over an individual’s life. Dealing with addiction is difficult, but it is far from impossible. Thousands of addicts and their families have successfully overcome addiction. Recognizing the problem, getting treatment, maintaining a good support network and constant evolution are the guidelines to overcoming addiction.

Opiates on the Brain

The chemical effect of opiates on the brain creates the need, urge to reuse the drug. The Synaptic cleft is the gap between neurons where electrical signals jump (messages). The gap between the two is so great that messages cannot be sent electrically; instead it crosses by means of chemical ‘messengers’ called neurotransmitters. Dopamine is one type of neurotransmitter, which responsible for the feeling of pleasure. A neuron produces dopamine, packed into containers called vesicles. When the electrical impulse arrives at the neuron’s terminal, the vesicle moves to the neural membrane and releases the dopamine in the synaptic cleft. Dopamine then moves across gap to the receptors of the next neuron. Eventually the dopamine will leave this new neuron and go back to the first neuron, in what is called uptake pumps. This is the normal function of neurotransmitters, neurons, and dopamine. It is important that the dopamine does not stay on the cleft.

When a person takes opiates they enter into the brain at the reward pathway. The opiate binds to opiate receptors on another neuron; there are opiate receptors in the brain because of the natural opiates the body produces. This intake of opiates creates a dramatic increase in the amount of dopamine in the synaptic clefts, in the reward pathway. It is still not known for sure how opiates create more dopamine in the brain. One theory states that when opiates enter the brain and binds to receptors, the neurons release less GABA. GABA is responsible for inhibiting dopamine; ergo less GABA equals more dopamine. This increase in dopamine is responsible for the intense pleasure the opiate user feels. Like other drug abuse, prolonged opiate abuse creates a tolerance to the drug. This requires higher volumes of use to achieve wanted effects. Over a long period dopamine receptors decrease, so when an individual stops or quits they no longer have that increased feeling of pleasure. Quitting heroin creates less dopamine and fewer receptors for dopamine to bind to create a moodier, depressed, anxious, and irritable person. Extreme effects of not using are called opiate withdrawal, which can be life threatening.

Subutex

Subutex is a prescription, partial opioid agonist that is used to treat opioid dependency. The drug is made of buprenorphine which works on the MU receptors and the KAPPA receptor. When it reaches the MU receptors it will displace full opioid agonists like: morphine, methadone, heroin and other opioids from the receptor. This negates any of the effects of those full opioids and the drug has lower abuse potential, lower levels of physical dependency, ceiling effect, and greater overdose safety. This drug is used because it reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings that are associated with opioid addiction. The drug is used for detoxification and medical maintenance programs. Subutex is delivered in pill form and taken orally by dissolving under the tongue. As the drug enters the body it binds to the same MU receptors in the brain and blocks heroin’s effects with a much weaker opioid effect than other opioids. The effects of the drug are not zero, therefore there is still a potential for abuse. Buprenorphine is on the list of medications that are considered dangerous and harmful when used incorrectly by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

Signs and Symptoms of Subutex Abuse

Subutex is has a higher rate of being abused when it is in pill form. Individuals will crush the tablet to snort or inject it (when diluted in water). When it is ingested in this way it can produce the euphoric effects that are similar to abusing other opiates like heroin and morphine. This drug is considered to have a higher risk for abuse than Suboxone, which is a combination of Buprenorphine combined with Naloxone. The signs and symptoms of Subutex abuse/addiction are similar to other opioids. Anyone displaying these signs could be abusing or addicted to Subutex:

-mood swings
-changes in sleeping patterns
-neglecting hobbies or normal activates
-persistent failure to complete responsibilities at work, home, or school
-Flu-like symptoms-yellowing of skin and eyes
-Nosebleeds-and signs of injection (needle marks on arms/legs/other parts of the body

Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms of Subutex are similar to other opioids and include:

-yawning
-secretion of tears
-anxiety
-restlessness
-nausea or vomiting
-muscle aches
-insomnia
-sweating
-goose bumps
-dilated pupils

If a loved one is experiencing or exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms then they could be addicted to Subutex. It is imperative that they get professional help immediately. Opioid addiction is incredibly dangerous. Abusing this drug is especially dangerous because of the nature of abusing them. Addicts often take higher doses of opiates like heroin to counteract the euphoria-blocking effects of the Subutex, which can often lead to fatal overdose.

Effects of Subutex Abuse

The effects of Subutex abuse are similar to abusing other opiates. This drug was created to have less significant euphoric effects, but it can still be abused. When an individual abuses Subutex they will feel euphoria, but it will produce a lower sedation or cognitive impairment than that of heroin or other powerful opioids. Short term side effects of Subutex include euphoria, sedation, and decreased pain. The undesired effects of abusing Subutex are:

-body aches
-Flu-like symptoms
-constipation
-mood swings
-sweating
-dizziness
-vomiting

More serious side effects include:

-yellow skin
-dark urine
-yellowing in the whites of the eyes
-severe stomach pain
-Light-colored bowl movements

The long term effects of Subutex are not as severe as full opioid agonists, but can be severe depending on the method of delivery. Injection can caused abscesses and blood borne disease like HIV. It can also cause nasal damage if it is snorted.

Treatment for Subutex Abuse

If you or a loved one is addicted to Subutex it is important to seek professional help. The best treatment for opioid abuse is a long-term in-patient treatment center. Speaking with an addiction specialist can help the addict and their family find the best possible option. It is important that they look at every possibility and not be deterred by time, money, or location because getting sober and healthy is of the utmost importance.