Subutex and Suboxone are opioid medications with the same active ingredient: buprenorphine. But, only Suboxone has an additional medication called naloxone, which blocks the effects of opioid drugs.
Both Subutex and Suboxone treat opioid addiction by keeping cravings and withdrawal symptoms manageable. Subutex is during detox, whereas Suboxone can be used long-term.
Differences Between Suboxone and Subutex
|Suboxone vs Subutex||Suboxone||Subutex|
|Active Ingredients||Buprenorphine, Naloxone||Buprenorphine|
|Includes Opioid Blockers||Yes||No|
|Delivery||Oral, Sublingual||Oral, Sublingual, Monthly Injection, Implant|
|Brand Names||Suboxone, Zubsolv||Subutex, Sublocade, Belbuca, Probuphine|
|Most Common Uses||Outpatient treatment or at home (with prescription)||Detox/Inpatient treatment|
What is Subutex?
Subutex is one of the most popular medications for treating opioid addiction.
- It works by satisfying opioid receptors in the brain that are craving drugs, which alleviates withdrawal symptoms and helps people stay sober long enough for them to start feeling better.
- Doctors use Subutex during the detox process to get the patient off of opioids without sending them into full withdrawals that lead to relapse.
While buprenorphine doesn’t take away withdrawal symptoms entirely, it makes it much easier to convince people to get help. Detoxing from opioids is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last forever, and medications like Subutex can help get you through.
Does Subutex do the same thing as Suboxone?
Yes. The point of both medications is to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.
The buprenorphine in Subutex and Suboxone satisfies opioid cravings but produces less powerful effects than other opioids like heroin or Oxycontin.
When is Subutex used?
Subutex is used in a clinical setting, like a drug detox or addiction treatment center. At treatment facilities, Subutex is administered under the supervision of medical staff. Suboxone, though, can be taken at home.
The goal is to slowly lower the level of opioids in the patient’s system so that they don’t experience the overwhelming withdrawals that lead to relapse.
Why do doctors prescribe Subutex if it has no opioid blocker?
Subutex is the best medication to use when beginning treatment for opioid addiction. This is when withdrawal symptoms are at their worst.
The fact that Subutex does not contain the opioid blocker Naloxone is actually an advantage in the early stages of treatment because the patient can begin taking the medication as soon as they enter treatment.
Suboxone, on the other hand, is not recommended for people who are still using opioid drugs in their system. Taking Suboxone before opioids have cleared the system can make withdrawal symptoms worse. This is known as precipitated withdrawal.
Why do doctors prescribe Subutex and Suboxone?
Buprenorphine is used to treat opioid addiction because they lessen the effects of withdrawal while satisfying the brain’s craving for the drug.
Subutex, which is simply buprenorphine, helps reduce the individual’s desire to use, which is especially strong in the first few days without opioids.
Suboxone does the same thing, but with the added blocker Naloxone, it is safe for long term use as a maintenance medication.
Once we address the physical symptoms, the patient can fully engage in their recovery by attending therapy, going to meetings and forming connections with other sober people.
Can any doctor prescribe Suboxone?
No, physicians must be registered with the Food and Drug Administration and obtain a waiver to prescribe Suboxone or Subutex.
Even though buprenorphine is safe when used appropriately, it is still a powerful opioid medication. Buprenorphine is listed as a Schedule III controlled substance by the FDA and is tightly restricted to prevent the medication from being abused or falling into the wrong hands.
Why is there naloxone in Suboxone?
Suboxone adds yet another layer of safety with the addition of naloxone, a medication that blocks the effects of opioids.
When someone takes suboxone by mouth, the naloxone has no effect. However, if someone attempts to abuse their Suboxone by injecting it, the opioid-blocker activates and prevents the individual from feeling the full effects.
Naloxone is the same medication that first responders use to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Subutex does not contain naloxone.
Is Suboxone more expensive than Subutex?
The retail price of Suboxone is about $200 for (30 day supply) and Subutex is $160 for 30 days. Suboxone offers this coupon to significantly reduce the price per month.
Health insurance (including Medicaid) covers both medications. If you have insurance, it is just a copay- usually $25 per script. Most insurances require therapy to authorize the medication, which would be a separate cost.
You can’t substitute Subutex for Suboxone just because it’s cheaper. Unlike Suboxone, Subutex would rarely be given at-home or long-term.
Are Subutex and Suboxone dangerous?
Not when taken as directed. While there is potential for abuse, Suboxone and Subutex are only partial opioids. That means there is a ceiling effect, which:
- will not get you high like other opioid medications
- is less likely to cause overdose
- does not increase effects with higher doses
Research shows more people are willing to accept treatment only if these medications are included because they significantly improve withdrawal symptoms and reduce mental cravings.
It’s a way to get more people help and meet the struggling person where they are at.
Can you become addicted to Suboxone or Subutex?
It is possible to get addicted to Suboxone or Subutex, but it’s not common. Here’s why:
- Buprenorphine is a partial-agonist opioid, so Suboxone and Subutex have less intense effects compared to typical opioids.
- People that are prescribed buprenorphine already have a tolerance to opioids.
- The Naloxone in Suboxone adds another layer of safety by helping to prevent overdose
People who are already addicted to opioids won’t feel high from buprenorphine because they are already opioid-tolerant. Because the effects are less intense, taking Suboxone and Subutex satisfies the craving without reinforcing addictive behavior.
Is Suboxone safer than Subutex?
Suboxone is considered safer than Subutex when it comes to the potential for overdose. If someone tries to inject Suboxone, the naloxone will partially block opioid receptors and reduce the chance of overdose less than Subutex.
However, both Suboxone and Subutex are safe medications, especially when administered under the care of an accredited addiction treatment facility.
Do Suboxone and Subutex work for opioid addiction?
Yes! Both Suboxone and Subutex are considered effective treatment options for opioid use disorders. It does need to be said, though, that they are not perfect. Some people who take Suboxone continue abusing opioids or other medications.
Most treatment success stories come from a holistic approach that includes appropriate individual and group therapies, not medication alone.
Does JourneyPure offer Suboxone?
Yes. JourneyPure has Suboxone Clinics in Tennessee and Kentucky in the following locations:
- Lexington Suboxone Clinic (KY)
- Louisville Suboxone Clinic (KY)
- Paducah Suboxone Clinic (KY)
- Bowling Green Suboxone Clinic (KY)
- Elizabethtown Suboxone Clinic (KY)
- Knoxville Suboxone Clinic (TN)
JourneyPure.com doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, count records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the fields and their own personal recovery.
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