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According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as of 2019, 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders, while only 1 in 7 people receive treatment.

In this write-up, you will learn about opioid abuse and the paradox of opioid abuse treatment: medications like subutex and methadone used to treat opioid abuse get patients addicted to them, if care is not taken. You will also learn about the treatment programme of addiction to these drugs, how long does it take and what it involves.

Using methadone, substitol, subutex and suboxone to treat drug abuse

When people get addicted to commonly abused opioids such as heroin, medications like methadone and subutex are prescribed by physicians. These have two things in common – they are long-acting opioids and opioid agonists. Effects they exert on bodily functions last for hours and they bind to the same body receptors heroin binds to. When this happens, heroin cannot bind and cause euphoria or ‘highness’.

That could seem to be a good treatment, but the problem with their usage lies in their chemical structure: they are opioids too. They exert effects similar to that of illegal opioids, though in milder degrees. Therefore, their prescription and administration is licensed mainly to accredited methadone clinics.

Now, let’s take a close look at these approved medications.

What is methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid used for opioid maintenance therapy and chronic pain management. It is marketed mainly as Dolophine and Methadose. This medication is mainly taken by mouth and rarely by injection. When injected, it is 100% available for utilization and results in methadone intoxication. Methadone is utilized in managing opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Being approved by the World Health Organization, it is used under medical supervision. Unfortunately, it creates euphoria and can be abused. That’s why its administration is supervised.

Methadone is used to suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms.

What is substitol and its uses?

Substitol, known as morphine sulphate, is a semi-synthetic opioid that is prescribed for pain relief by licensed specialists. Substitol is not usually used in treating short-term pain e.g. from surgery.

Substitol is available as controlled-release oral pills. Higher strengths of this drug cause substitol overdose. Dissolved substitol injected into the body leads to rapid release and absorption of a potentially fatal dose. Substitol is highly addictive.

Substitol is prescribed for moderate and long-term pain management.

7 symptoms of methadone and subsitol abuse

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Constricted pupils
  • Drowsiness and muscle weakness
  • Clammy, pale skin
  • Shallow breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Unconsciousness and coma

In severe cases, these may result in respiratory and cardiac arrest.

 8 ways of methadone and substitol abuse

  • Taking substitol and heroin together
  • Combining methadone and alcohol
  • Taking substitol and cocaine together
  • Intravenous substitol injection
  • Using methadone and substitol in higher doses than prescribed
  • Receiving treatment from various doctors at the same time
  • Lying to a doctor to get higher doses
  • Buying street methadone and substitol.
Subutex is indicated for treatment of opioid use disorder.

Subutex, what does this medication do?

Subutex, a brand name for Buprenorphine, is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic. It is produced by modification of the naturally-occurring opioid – morphine. It is used to treat opioid use disorder, acute and chronic pain. Subutex misuse is prevented by subutex-suboxone combinations.

Subutex administration is under the tongue, by injection or skin patches. Subutex is the best for substitution therapy. It has a very low risk for overdose. However, people abuse subutex. Sometimes doctors use subutex and methadone together for treatment.

According to Wikipedia, research is ongoing in subutex treatment of depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Suboxone tablets are also used to treat opioid use disorder.

What is suboxone?

Suboxone is a brand name for buprenorphine. It is employed alongside counselling to treat opioid use disorder. It decreases withdrawal symptoms for about 24 hours. It is administered under the tongue or between the gums and the cheek.

This medication contains naloxone, an opioid antagonist which blocks effects of other opioids. Naloxone is poorly absorbed by mouth and blocks the effect of buprenorphine, if suboxone is misused by injection. A popular treatment procedure – rapid opiate detox with suboxone – utilizes this medication.

3 ways of abusing suboxone

  • Using suboxone and methadone
  • Using suboxone and cocaine
  • Combining suboxone with alcohol

Addiction can result from mismanaged treatment courses, curiosity, peer influence or self medication. Whichever way it occurred, there’s one thing – it is possible to suppress withdrawal symptoms and overcome dependence.

How is methadone, substitol, subutex, suboxone addiction treated?

Detoxification treatment is popularly used to resolve addiction. Detoxification cleanses the body and suppresses withdrawal symptoms e.g. drug cravings. Treatment may be inpatient or outpatient. Detoxification procedure chosen depends on analysis of patient’s addiction history, patient’s metabolism and contraindications e.g. heart disease.

Detoxification treatment is indicated for patients who have used less than:

  1. 40–50 mg of methadone
  2. 400–500 mg of substitol
  3. 100 mg of oxycontin

Contact us to find out whether you are a candidate for addiction treatment >>>

 5 phases of detoxification treatment 

Managing methadone, substitol, subutex or suboxone addiction is challenging. Learn how to begin your journey towards recovery. Detoxification treatment has five integral steps which are explained below:

Step 1. Diagnostics

This is the starting point for methadone rapid detox and substitol rapid detox treatments. Diagnostics evaluate the physical and psychological state of the patient. This is in line with approved guidelines. Standard diagnostics take note of the following:

  • Physical examination by clinician 
  • Hepatitis B and C, HIV tests
  • Blood analysis and testing
  • Urine test
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Level of addiction
  • Mental health status
  • Voluntariness for treatment
  • Presence of depression

Results are analysed. Physicians use this data to develop treatment plans. Tests for underlying health conditions may be taken and assessed to see if they would affect the treatment procedure.

 Step 2. Detoxification

Results obtained determine the most suitable detoxification procedure for the patient. Detox methods include – UROD (ultra-rapid opioid detoxification), NET (neuro jet) therapy and Pharmacotherapy. This step is meant to be quick, painless and restore a patient’s sleep and appetite.

  • Ultra-rapid detoxification: This is a recent detox procedure with high efficacy. This method of detoxification aims at speeding up the body’s cleansing process while suppressing withdrawal symptoms. It is the primary treatment course followed when the patient has been examined and no contraindications will be developed by this procedure. Examples of UROD include suboxone anesthesia detox and methadone anesthesia detox. Patients are administered anaesthesia for 6–8 hours and receive opioid antagonists – naloxone or naltrexone – which blocks opioids at brain receptors. UROD aims to overcome unpleasant symptoms while the patient is asleep, so pain will not be felt. Upon awakening, crises would have significantly reduced. Remnants are managed with non-opioid analgesics. This is repeated twice or thrice for optimum results.
  • NET: Neuro jet therapy uses a neuro jet device to stimulate specific neurons in the brain. These neurons secrete opioids e.g. dopamine and endorphins when excited with special impulses. Man’s innate protection against stress, shock and pain depends on secretion of these opioids. However, their secretion is inhibited by opioid abuse. Neuro jet is a small device used to normalize levels of dopamine and endorphins in the brain. This procedure is painless – the patient feels tickling or vibrations only. The frequency and intensity of impulses  are computer-controlled.
  • Pharmacotherapy: This aspect of detoxification focuses on prescription of medications that’ll address diagnostic results. These medications eliminate withdrawal symptoms and include hypnotics, antidepressants and psycho-stabilizers used to manage nervousness, irritability, dysphoria, insomnia, and other withdrawal symptoms. Ferments are given to help assimilate food nutrients e.g. amino acids which may not be utilised because of disturbed diets or impaired appetite. Therapies for detoxification and elimination of medications used are planned too. Pharmacotherapy has the advantage of being safe and non-addictive.

Step 3. Physiotherapy

This combines physical therapy, medical therapy and deep tissue massage in addiction management. Deep tissue massage relaxes the body, calms the altered state caused by opioids and normalizes dopamine levels in patients who undergo this procedure. It accelerates detoxification by improving blood and lymph circulation which speeds up release of toxic substances from the body.

Step 4. Pharmacological blockade

This is the final stage of the treatment procedure. Naltrexone is implanted in patients. As an opioid antagonist, it blocks opioid receptors and inhibits actions of excitatory opioids. If a patient happens to take methadone or even heroin, it will not cause euphoria or ‘highness’.

Step 5. Post-treatment services

This is part of our treatment package. Follow-up counselling which can be delivered at home is available to regularly monitor treatment progress. Substance use disorder education helps to enlighten patients leading to healthier living.

What are the benefits and results of enrolling in an addiction treatment programme?

Individuals who enrol in treatment schemes for methadone, substitol, subutex, suboxone addiction are guided on the path to healthy living by a team of experts. The benefits and expected results include:

  • Relieving and management of withdrawal symptoms
  • Detoxification treatment helps to cleanse the body of harmful byproducts
  • Pharmacotherapeutic medications promote recovery from the effects of drugs
  • Pharmacological blockades prevent relapse
  • Diagnostics help to outline other medical conditions that may have progressed unnoticed
  • Access to medical personnel who provide support round the clock
  • Release of financial resources which would have been spent buying these drugs to other needs
  • Patients are assisted to live healthier lives by rehabilitative personnel
  • Post-treatment services help individuals to overcome any difficulties they may face

Enrolling in addiction treatment is one way to break free from the cycle of opioid addiction and overcome craving for these medications. With plans tailored towards solving specific needs of patients, many are guided on the path to healthier living. Addiction treatment services are designed to be as patient-friendly as ever. 

Begin your journey to recovery. Learn how to enroll in detoxification addiction treatment programme >>>

Published on October 15, 2020

by Dr Vorobjev Clinic team

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