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Subutex Addiction

Subutex is one brand of the drug buprenorphine, an opioid medication used by medical professionals to treat opioid addiction. By acting on receptors in the central nervous system, Subutex alters brain chemistry and makes other narcotics less effective, and therefore less attractive; this can actually lessen the compulsive actions and constant cravings that are the earmarks of addiction.

While physical dependency may still remain, the hope is that this opioid substitute will battle the behaviors that are the root of addiction. Then, theoretically, patients take Subutex as a daily medication, gradually tapering off use with relative ease and fewer side effects. Still, the fact remains that Subutex is an opioid, one with its own set of side effects and dangers.

Subutex addiction is not only possible, it is even likely among addicts with a history of relapse and addiction to multiple drugs. As with morphine, heroin, or oxycodone, people taking Subutex for long periods of time can become numb to the effects, needing more and more to achieve the altered sense of well-being they have become accustomed to. Ironically, addicts can find themselves addicted to the very drug they took in hopes of finally achieving sobriety.


Prescriptions for opioids like Subutex increased 10 fold between 1990 and 2010, despite the fact that statistics continue to show that they are highly addictive. Dependency on these drugs affects more than 5 million Americans annually, leading to approximately 17,000 deaths in the U.S. per year. That these staggering numbers are a result of a study of the American public is no coincidence; though Americans constitute a mere 4.6 percent of the world’s population, they consume a staggering 80% of the world’s opioid supply. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’S) 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that in 2009 approximately 23.5 million people 12 years of age or older needed treatment because of drug or alcohol abuse. Of those people, only about 11.2 percent received treatment at a facility dedicated to treating addiction and the issues that surround it. Among people using painkillers for non-medically prescribed reasons, only 18 percent received those pills from their doctor; 70 percent obtained them because they were stole, bought, or were given to them for free by friends and family.

Symptoms of Subutex Addiction An addiction to Subutex can become apparent to outsiders as the user begins to exhibit a host of physical and psychological symptoms:

  • mood swings
  • changes in personality
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • lack of libido

Additionally, a person with substance use disorder may find themselves withdrawing from everyday life, no longer participating in activities they used to enjoy and isolating themselves from loved ones. Their actions may seem obsessive and secretive, as they go to great lengths to obtain drugs and hide their behavior from others. In desperation, many addicts attempt to go “cold turkey” in hopes they can rid themselves instantly of any and all intoxicants.

If you abruptly stop taking Subutex, be aware that you may experience withdrawal symptoms:

  • muscle aches
  • runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • restlessness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • sweating
  • muscle stiffness
  • tremors
  • insomnia
  • mood changes
Cliffside Malibu - Sunset


Any time you’re using Subutex in a manner other than as directed by your doctor, you’re abusing the drug, and the results can be catastrophic. Physically, the symptoms start small, and you may experience an increase in the typical side effects listed above. Then, as your body is overloaded with the drug, breathing problems can begin to occur, making it more difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs to survive; this is especially true whenever Subutex is used in conjunction with other sedatives, like alcohol, and other narcotics, increasing the possibility of accidental death. You may experience mood changes, hallucinations, severe stomach and abdominal pain, severe drowsiness (to the point being unaware of your surroundings), and extreme lethargy. Psychologically, Subutex addiction can be taxing, especially for individuals who turned to the medication as a way to rid themselves of other addictions.

The circle can be vicious, and finding yourself once again fighting constant cravings and physical dependency can lead to feelings of despondency, depression, and overall defeat. Addicts become so focused on consuming the object of their obsession that everything else takes a back seat. This includes family, friends, jobs, school—anything that would or could get in the way of achieving that all-consuming high fades into the background. Addicts tend to lose friends, become estranged from their families, and have difficulty keeping a job. Subutex is a particularly expensive drug, a person with substance use disorderion is difficult to financially maintain; Subutex addicts may turn to begging or even stealing in order to support their habit.

Cliffside Malibu - Detox


Being addicted to Subutex can feel like an endless struggle. When you’ve admitted your dependency and decide to get help, an inpatient facility has all the tools you need to start winning the addiction battle.

  • Detox – As described above, withdrawing from Subutex is not a pain-free experience. Symptoms range from nausea and vomiting to severe muscle tremors, and the desire to return to using just to end the discomfort can be strong. Inpatient treatment offers medically-supervised detox options, so you can free yourself of Subutex while you and your symptoms are addressed and cared for in the best manner possible.
  • Support – A combination of private, family, and group counseling sessions will address every facet of your addiction. You’ll have the chance to explore your past, identify possible triggers, reevaluate your social circles, and share your experiences with others who can empathize with where you have been and where you want to go.
  • Plan for the future – Inpatient rehab isn’t just about your stay there; it’s also a chance to form a game plan as you move forward. To this end, your team can help you map out a post-rehab plan which might include things like a list of nearby 12-step meetings, help scheduling counseling sessions, vocational assistance, and a room in transitional housing.


If you or a loved one is struggling with a Subutex dependency, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. With the help of experienced professionals and the right support, recovery is possible. Reach out to Cliffside Malibu at 1-800-501-1988; help is only a phone call away.


Call now to speak confidentially with an admission counselor.

(424) 320-3061