Suboxone or Subutex, Suboxone Addiction and Rehab

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated May 23, 2014

Suboxone or Subutex?

Those who take care to follow explicit medical advice tend to have better treatment outcomes. This is certainly true when it comes to taking medications for the treatment of an opiate addiction. It is also important to understand the effects of the various medications and how they can help you or a loved one kick the habit. Let’s take a look at two such medications — Suboxone and Subutex — and their similarities and differences.


Whether it’s Suboxone or Subutex, both medications have one thing in common — they share the same active ingredient — Buprenorphine. In pharmacological terms, Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist used in the treatment of opioid addiction. Since it is a partial agonist, it cannot cause potentially fatal respiratory depression when abused. This is one trait that distinguishes it from methadone, for example.

The primary ingredient in Suboxone is buprenorphine, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in treating people with an addiction to opioids. Opioids are synthetic drugs that are similar in nature to opiates, which reduce pain and induce sleep. Some examples of opioids are heroin, morphine, and Vicodin.

Suboxone Facts and Dosages

Both Suboxone and Subutex comes in dosages of 2 and 8 mg in the form of a sublingual tablet that is dissolved under the tongue. The main difference between the two medications is that Subutex contains only buprenorphine, while Suboxone also contains naloxone. During the first part of treatment, Subutex is given. Suboxone is given during the treatment’s maintenance phase.

What is Naloxone?

Naloxone in an added ingredient in the medication Suboxone that prevents the medicine from being abused. Naloxone functions as an opiate antagonist. It fills the brain’s opiate receptors and prevents other drugs from binding to these sites.

If you were high on heroin and took Suboxone containing naloxone, you would immediately enter into opiate withdrawal. Taking Suboxone as directed would produce no noticeable effect. You would have any withdrawal symptoms relieved. However, if you try abusing Suboxone by injecting it, the added ingredient naloxone will become completely activated, and you would go into a withdrawal that could not be reversed by using heroin or other opiates.

How do the medications differ from other treatment options like methadone?

Dependence treatments like methadone can only be used as a certain number of clinics specializing in addiction treatment. The number of addiction treatment centers are not enough to help all those needing treatment. In addition, methadone can be just as addictive as any opiate drug, so cross addiction can occur. The last thing you want to do when trying to discontinue one drug habit is to pick up another one. Subutex and Suboxone, on the other hand, are available because of the Drug Abuse Treatment Act of 2000 by a doctor’s prescription. This means more patients can receive treatment. These drugs are also not as addictive as methadone.

Detox With Subutex

Subutex is a sublingual tablet, meaning it must be placed under the tongue until dissolved. It is considered to be a safe method to help you detox from more dangerous opiates. Risk of addiction is low, but it is still an opioid, so its use should be monitored by a qualified doctor.

If you detox from opiates with Subutex, the buprenorphine it contains will allow you to stop your opiate use without withdrawal symptoms. The effects increase using larger doses until a plateau effect is reached at moderate doses. This is sometimes called the “ceiling effect” and is why Subutex is considered very useful and safe for rehabilitation purposes.

Need Help for Opiate Addiction?

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to opiates and needs detox, Northbound Treatment Services can help. We provide sub-acute detox and multi-faceted addiction treatment for opiate and opioid addiction. We know the hopelessness that accompanies addiction, and we are here to tell you there’s a way out. Contact us at (866) 538-4356, and start the journey to a new life today.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.