Subutex vs. Suboxone – What’s the Difference?

Subutex and Suboxone are two medications that share an active ingredient: buprenorphine. The difference between them is that Suboxone has an additional active ingredient called naloxone. Naloxone is the same medication that first responders use to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

Suboxone is designed to help manage opioid dependency, and the opioid-blocking ingredient provides it with a safeguard that Subutex does not contain.

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Suboxone vs. Methadone – is it the same?

While the two are similar, Suboxone and methadone are not the same medication. The active ingredients in Suboxone are buprenorphine and naloxone. For methadone, the active ingredient is methadone hydrochloride. Both medications are opioids, which means they act on the body in similar ways. Both suboxone and methadone are indicated for the treatment of opioid dependence, and in some cases, chronic pain.  

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Suboxone Quick Facts

  • Suboxone has two active ingredients: Buprenorphine and Naloxone.
  • In 2017 (when the opioid crisis was at it’s worst), Americans filled 14.6 million buprenorphine prescriptions.
  • The FDA approved Suboxone for opioid addiction in 2002.
    Buprenorphine was originally developed as a safer opioid to treat pain.
  • Suboxone is available as a tablet and as a sublingual film.

Suboxone Myths

Myth 1: Taking Suboxone means you aren’t sober.

Taking Suboxone doesn’t mean you’re substituting one drug for another. Suboxone is considered a medication and therefore doesn’t qualify as a substance of abuse as long as it’s used as directed. There are many ways to get sober and the “best” option is the one that is most effective for you. The whole point of sobriety is to live and function as a healthy individual.

Myth 2: Suboxone is only for long-term

While Suboxone is usually reserved for long-term treatment, doctors can also prescribe Subutex, which is the same medication (buprenorphine) without the naloxone. Subutex is better suited for the first few days of the detoxification process when withdrawal symptoms are at their peak.

Myth 3: People that have Suboxone prescriptions often abuse it.

It may seem counter-intuitive to prescribe an opioid addict another medication, but medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone is both safe and effective. The misuse rate of Suboxone is lower than most people think, around the same rate as antibiotics. This is because Suboxone includes naltrexone, which blocks the opioid receptors and makes the drug more difficult to abuse.

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