Many people need medication-assisted treatment (MAT) when they go through addiction treatment. This is widely used with substance use disorders involving both drugs and alcohol. Certain medications are used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, which could otherwise be unpleasant and even dangerous. There are two medications available for helping people curb opioid addiction: Subutex and Suboxone.
Both medications are similar, but it’s important to understand how they compare if you are struggling with substance use disorder to opioids. As you enter an addiction treatment facility, you may be given the choice of one of these medications versus the other.
Subutex and Suboxone Both Contain Another Drug, Buprenorphine
Both Subutex and Suboxone contain a drug called Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid that’s derived from opium in the poppy plant. The drug serves as a partial agonist against opioids, which means that it affects the same receptors in the brain as other opioids like oxycodone or heroin. However, unlike those drugs, the binding effects are not as strong with Buprenorphine, so you don’t have the same total feeling from it compared with other opioids.
This is the case even if the dose is increased. If you are treated with low doses of medication containing Buprenorphine, the agonist effect can help to regulate your brain chemistry while you go through withdrawal from opioids. As your symptoms are alleviated, you don’t have to suffer the pain and intense cravings you otherwise would, which allows you to function so that you can go through your drug addiction treatment.
What Are Subutex and Suboxone?
Subutex is a brand-name medication that is used to help people with opioid addictions go through the detox process to help them have an easier time as the drugs are eliminated from their system. It contains Buprenorphine and is available in a tablet form that dissolves under the tongue It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 and is considered a better, safer option than methadone.
Suboxone was also approved by the FDA in 2002 to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal from opioid addiction in detox. It can be used in different forms by dissolving between the cheeks and gums. Like Subutex, it contains Buprenorphine, but it has one more ingredient: Naloxone, another medication that can reverse an overdose by eliminating opioids from the receptors in the brain.
The reason behind the addition of Naloxone is to eliminate the potential for abuse of Suboxone itself. Instead of being a partial opioid agonist like Buprenorphine, it is a full opioid agonist. This means it does not stimulate those receptors in the brain that otherwise react to opioids. However, withdrawal symptoms aren’t quite as blunted by this medication.
What Is the Difference Between Subutex and Suboxone?
Subutex are Suboxone are mostly similar medications. The main difference between them is that Subutex only contains Buprenorphine while Suboxone contains Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Although both of these medications came out around the same time and were both FDA-approved within the same year, Subutex came first. It was determined to be effective for treating individuals struggling with opioid addiction but was also found to carry a risk of being abused itself.
This is why Suboxone was developed. The added ingredient of Naloxone completely blocks the effects of opioids on the brain’s receptors. As a result, if a person attempts to abuse Suboxone, they will experience withdrawal symptoms instead of the euphoric high they were expecting.
Considering these differences, Suboxone is probably the better medication for more people who need treatment for opioid addiction. The only exception might be pregnant women. Some experts don’t advise taking Suboxone due to the Naloxone component and the potentially dangerous effects the symptoms of withdrawal could have on their unborn babies. Others say that both drugs are safe. However, Subutex only contains Buprenorphine and doesn’t have the same effects as methadone, which makes it a safer alternative for pregnant women going through treatment.
Overall, pregnant women who have a history of relapse might be better off avoiding Suboxone. Abusing the medication can lead to serious effects on the fetus. Ready to get started? Call us today at 833-610-1174 so we can help find you the right treatment facility to fit your needs.