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Does Subutex Block Opiates?

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People coming off long-term opiate addictions well know how opiate effects can persist long after they stop using. Without some form of medication treatment in place, many recovering addicts would have a difficult time maintaining abstinence on an ongoing basis.

As one of many FDA approved opiate addiction treatment medications, Subutex offers certain therapeutic benefits that drugs like methadone can’t. Unlike methadone, Subutex has a twofold effect in terms of how this drug interacts with opioid receptors in the brain.

subutex opiate addiction

Subutex is an opiate addiction treatment medication.

Does Subutex block opiates? The answer is yes, and no. Fortunately, Subutex’s ability to do both makes for an added benefit in terms of helping those in recovery overcome withdrawal and drug cravings effects.

When asking does Subutex block opiates, it helps to keep in mind that long-term opiate use alters brain function in many different ways. Any one of these aftereffects can greatly impede a person’s success in recovery. This means, Subutex’s therapeutic effectiveness can vary depending on each person’s individual treatment.

In general, opiate-blocking treatment medications help meet some of the challenges addicts face in recovery, though not all of them. Ultimately, the question “when does Subutex block opiates” has as much to do with this drug’s effectiveness as when it doesn’t.

Opiate Addiction Aftereffects

The body houses its own opioid system that’s designed to regulate pain and pleasure sensations on an ongoing basis. This system also taps into the brain’s learning or reward system. Opiate addictions leave both these systems in a state of disarray.

Opiate drugs work by activating opioid receptor sites located on cells throughout the brain, central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. When ingested, opiates interfere with the body’s ability to manage pain and in the process redefine how the brain interprets pleasure and reward.

After months or years of opiate abuse, brain and central nervous system functions have come to rely on opiates to regulate bodily functions. Once a person stops using, some form of medical treatment is needed to pick up where opiate effects leave off.

The question “does Subutex block opiates” can best be answered in terms of how this drug helps to address the obstacles addicts face in recovery. Drug cravings and withdrawal effects are the two biggest obstacles to long-term abstinence. In this regard, asking, “does Subutex block opiates” only addresses one of the two obstacles recovering addicts face.

Subutex

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Subutex exists as a brand name version for buprenorphine, one of the newer opiate addiction treatment drugs on the market. Subutex works by interacting with the same cell sites as opiates only in different ways. This drug shares certain similarities with methadone in terms of therapeutic benefits.

Both Subutex and methadone work to support cell site functions and restore normal levels of endorphins throughout the body. In the process, addicts gain much needed relief from withdrawal and drug cravings effects.

In this respect, the answer to the question “does Subutex block opiates” is no. However, Subutex takes this process one step farther, which is where the questions “does Subutex block opiates” goes from no to yes.

Subutex’s Mechanism of Action

Subutex acts as an opioid partial agonist, which refers to its ability to both activate and block affected cell site receptors. Methadone acts as a full agonist, meaning there’s no blocking mechanism in place.

Subutex forms a strong bond with cell site receptors. This means, once Subutex occupies a cell receptor other opiates like heroin and morphine can’t activate these sites. In this respect, the answer to “does Subutex block opiates” is yes.

Subutex also comes with a built-in “ceiling effect” that reduces the likelihood of abuse and addiction. After a certain dosage level, Subutex’s ability to activate cell sites maxes out.

This mechanism makes it much more difficult to get “high” off the drug in the event of a relapse occurrence. In light of Subutex’s blocking mechanism and ceiling effect, the answer to the question “does Subutex block opiate abuse” is yes.

Blocking Agents

Subutex first received FDA approval in 2002. Up until this time, opiate addiction treatment relied on methadone and a handful of opioid antagonist medications. Opioid antagonists work as blocking agents and blocking agents only.

Opioid antagonists work well in cases where a person has relapsed on multiple occasions in spite of ongoing drug treatment efforts. When ingested, these drugs bind to cell site receptors in much the same way as Subutex does, blocking other opiates out.

Antagonists-type drugs include:

  • Naltrindole
  • Naltrexone
  • Cyprodime
  • Naloxone

In effect, the need for a treatment drug that combined the therapeutic benefits of methadone and antagonist-type drugs prompted Subutex’s development. In a sense, the question “does Subutex block opiates” formed the premise for the making of this drug.

Suboxone

Buprenorphine, the sole ingredient in Subutex, also exists as a primary ingredient in Suboxone, another brand name drug. Suboxone differs from Subutex in that Suboxone contains buprenorphine plus the blocking agent, naloxone.

While the answer to “does Subutex block opiates” remains yes, Suboxone includes a built-in antagonist drug specifically designed to prevent other opiates from activating target cell sites, according to the U. S. Food & Drug Administration. Like other antagonist agents, Suboxone works well in cases where a person has a long-history of opiate abuse and has gone through multiple failed treatment attempts.

While buprenorphine acts as the primary ingredient in both Subutex and Suboxone, “how does Subutex block opiates” compared to Suboxone becomes the distinguishing feature in terms of the mechanisms involved. In effect, people coming off severe, long-term addiction problems will likely require the added antagonist ingredient found in Suboxone.

Considerations

Does Subutex block opiates? Yes, for the most part. However, someone determined to bypass Subutex’s opiate blocking mechanisms can still do so.

Methods of opiate abuse, such as snorting and injection are designed to override the drug’s ceiling effects and blocking agents. These methods of use entail grinding Subutex tablets into powder form, which essentially eliminates the drug’s therapeutic effects. When used in this way, addicts experience the full effects of the drug all at once turning a treatment medication into an addictive substance.

Ultimately, anyone considering Subutex as an opiate addiction treatment option should seriously consider getting some form of behavioral-based treatment help since addiction is as much a psychological dependency as a physical one.

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