Suboxone vs. Subutex: What’s the Difference?

suboxoneSuboxone and Subutex are prescription medications with similar names and different modes of action.

Both are designed to help people with a history of drug abuse and addiction, but unfortunately, both of these drugs can also become targets of abuse for specific types of people. When that abuse happens and an addiction blooms, impacted people might need specialized therapy in order to heal.

Chemical Differences

veteran and substance abuseBoth Suboxone and Subutex contain a medication that’s similar in structure to an opiate. This ingredient latches on to receptors used by drugs like heroin, and when that latching is done, people with addictions can feel a sense of relief from the drug cravings that could spark a relapse. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the need to take drugs, they could feel empowered to participate in therapy and engage in a real recovery.

That’s vital, according to an analysis in PsychCentral, as fewer than 25 percent of people who attempt a cold-turkey recovery from an addiction to heroin are successful at staying sober for one year. The rest of these people relapse to drugs because they simply can’t handle the endless cravings for drugs. The buprenorphine ingredient in Suboxone and Subutex helps with that.

An analysis from the Washington Post says that medications with buprenorphine have become the go-to choice for clinicians hoping to help their patients to overcome an addiction to opiates, and about a million people were taking drugs like this in 2012 alone.

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While Suboxone and Subutex both have buprenorphine, they’re not the same medication. Suboxone contains, in addition to buprenorphine, another medication that’s designed to prevent episodes of abuse. An archived page produced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains that this additional ingredient works a little like a damper on the effect of buprenorphine. If people take too much Suboxone, this secondary ingredient works to block the action of the entire drug. In theory, people wouldn’t get high because of this secondary ingredient. It would cap the pleasure they would feel.

The FDA suggests, then, that Subutex would be given in the first few days of the recovery process, when people are in need of the greatest amount of craving help and when they’re typically recovering in the supervised environment of a rehab center. Then, when they’re feeling more control, they’d switch to Suboxone for maintenance control. Rather than needing around-the-clock supervision, they could lean on the supervisory work each pill can provide.

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Who Abuses These Drugs?

Subutex and Suboxone were made to help people recover from addictions to drugs like:

People accustomed to taking a great deal of drugs often have brain tissues that are optimized for drugs. These people feel ill, sick, and lost without help. To them, Suboxone and Subutex don’t provide enough of a boost to deliver a high. Instead, when they take these drugs, they just feel normal.

But a person with no opiate damage might very well feel high with a hit of Suboxone or Subutex. Even tiny doses of buprenorphine, including those that are small enough that they don’t trigger the anti-abuse ingredient, can make them feel euphoric. If these recreational users take buprenorphine products, they can grow addicted very quickly.

Experts quoted by CNN suggest that the number of people who do develop addictions to these drugs is very small, especially when compared to those who abuse prescription painkillers or heroin. More people choose these drugs over Suboxone or Subutex. However, there are some people that find these medications both pleasant and convenient targets for abuse.

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The fact that these are prescription medications makes them appealing to some people. They might resist drugs that aren’t made in laboratories, worrying about purity and strength, and they may not want to take notorious drugs due to concerns about reputation or standing. Simply taking these recovery drugs seems safe and reputable, as though it’s a reasonable thing to do in order to handle life’s challenges.

But even though these medications are made in labs by professionals, and even though they are dispensed by pharmacists, there are very serious risks involved with abuse. For example, these drugs can also down breathing rates and heart rates. That could push a user into a drug-induced coma, and the longer that episode lasts, the more brain damage and tissue death takes place. Without a proper plan of action, people can die due to the drugs they experiment with.

As an addiction progresses, Suboxone can become dangerous. At very high doses, which addicted people need in order to keep the addiction alive, the dampening effect of the drug can take hold, pushing people into episodes of withdrawal long before they’re ready for it, says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. People like this might feel profoundly ill, as though they’ve been hit with a nasty case of the flu, all because of the drugs they’ve been taking and the way those drugs work.

People who abuse Suboxone and Subutex are at risk for developing an addiction to heroin. In time, the buprenorphine might not be enough to satisfy their need for a high, and heroin might seem like the only outlet for those cravings. Heroin addictions come with all sorts of extra dangers, including those associated with overdose, contamination, and arrests. That’s why it’s vital for people who are abusing Suboxone or Subutex to get into treatment now, so they won’t augment with more drugs that could do them harm.

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Getting Help

coupleAddictions to Suboxone and Subutex are difficult to conquer alone, but with the help of a qualified treatment team, these are problems that can come with real solutions. And the work might be easier than you thought possible.

At Axis, we want to smooth your entry into a sober life. We can help you through every stage of your recovery, from detox to rehab to aftercare. We can offer you a luxury rehab experience, or if you prefer a more straightforward approach, we have economy programs available as well. We’ll give you the support, the help, and the solutions you need, and it only takes a call to get started. Just call the number at the top of the page to find out more.