Subutex® Treatment and Potential For Addiction

Updated On: Jan 13, 2024
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    Key Points:

    • Subutex® is an FDA-approved medication used to manage opioid withdrawal and addiction.
    • The active ingredient in Subutex® is buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist.
    • Subutex® has a risk of misuse and addiction on its own.
    • Subutex® differs from Suboxone, which has buprenorphine and naloxone.
    • If Subutex® addiction develops, similar treatment to opioid addiction can be effective.

    Subutex® is an FDA-approved medication used to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms and promote lifelong recovery. It’s typically used to treat opioid withdrawal in people who can’t tolerate or shouldn’t be exposed to the naloxone in Suboxone.[1]

    Though Subutex® is approved for the treatment of opioid addiction, it can have serious side effects and carries a risk of misuse and addiction on its own. If Subutex® addiction occurs, it requires similar treatment to opioid addiction.

    What Is Subutex®?

    Subutex® is the brand name for a prescription buprenorphine medication, an opioid partial agonist that’s used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective, but it does have a potential for misuse.[2] At low-to-moderate doses, buprenorphine produces effects like euphoria and respiratory depression.[3]

    The Subutex® brand name has been discontinued in the US, but generic versions of buprenorphine-only medications are available and equivalent.[4]

    How Does Subutex® Work?

    Subutex® is an opioid partial agonist that produces mild euphoria and respiratory depression, but the effects are weaker than full opioid agonists like methadone or heroin.[5] It has a ceiling effect on respiratory depression, which makes it safer than methadone for addiction treatment.

    Another unique property of Subutex® is that it has pain-relieving effects that plateau at higher doses before becoming antagonistic and causing the opposite effects. This gives Subutex® a lower risk of misuse and dependence, though it’s not entirely without risk.

    Subutex® vs. Suboxone

    Subutex® and Suboxone are two similar-sounding drugs that are used to treat opioid substance use disorder. They have a similar mechanism, which is to partially bind to and activate the opioid receptors in the brain – the ones that respond to powerful opioids like heroin and morphine – blocking most of the extreme effects and dangers.[6]

    In this respect, Subutex® and Suboxone are both useful in managing opioid withdrawal symptoms, including severe cravings, and reducing the risk of relapse and overdose.[7]

    The key difference with Suboxone is that it’s a combination drug with another ingredient – naloxone. This is an opioid antagonist that blocks the action of opioid drugs to potentially reverse an opioid overdose.

    The addition of naloxone reduces the risk of misuse and overdose in Suboxone, which is why it doesn’t have the same misuse and addiction potential as Subutex®, which is purely buprenorphine.

    Subutex® Side Effects, Misuse, and Addiction

    Subutex® doesn’t produce a powerful euphoric high like other opioids, but it can be misused and lead to addiction, withdrawal, overdose, or death. With more frequent use or use at higher doses, you can develop a tolerance to Subutex® and experience physiological dependence and uncomfortable side effects.

    Subutex® side effects vary from person to person, based on factors like the consumption of other substances, overall physical and mental health, the dosage amount, and how long it was taken.

    Some of the drug’s symptoms include:

    • Body aches
    • Sneezing
    • Headaches
    • Intense muscle pain
    • Appetite changes
    • High blood pressure
    • Physical cravings
    • Malaise
    • Intense muscle pain
    • Depression
    • Confusion
    • Mood swings
    • Irritability
    • Agitation
    • Anxiety[8]

    The short-term effects of Subutex® abuse include:

    • Stomach pain
    • Vomiting
    • Sweating
    • Constipation
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness
    • Blurred vision[9]

    The long-term effects of Subutex® abuse may include:

    • Insomnia
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Loss of appetite
    • Hives
    • Lack of energy[10]

    Addiction to Subutex®: Treatment Near Me

    Despite its frequent use in OUD treatment, Subutex® addiction can be just as challenging to overcome as other types of addiction. Tolerance and dependence on the drug can bring on powerful withdrawal effects that can encourage relapse.

    If you or a loved one are struggling with Subutex® addiction, Subutex® detox is often the first step to recovery. In a hospital or residential environment, you can wean off of Subutex® and manage symptoms in a safe and comfortable environment before undergoing addiction treatment.

    During detox, you will have the support of a team of medical professionals and Subutex® and Suboxone doctors to ensure that withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, muscle spasms, and insomnia are alleviated as much as possible.

    After detox is complete, you can evaluate our options for Subutex® addiction treatment according to your individual needs.

    Addiction treatment often includes a combination of individual and group counseling, support groups, and behavioral therapies in a range of facilities:

    Inpatient Treatment

    Inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of treatment and requires 24/7 admittance to a hospital or residential environment for around-the-clock supervision. This type of treatment is ideal for people who struggle with relapse and setbacks and require more support or people who don’t feel that their usual environment is safe or conducive to sobriety.

    Typically, inpatient treatment lasts between 30 and 45 days, but it’s possible for people to stay in treatment for longer periods as needed.

    Outpatient Treatment

    Outpatient treatment allows you to attend therapies and counseling at set times during the day and return home in the evening to spend time with family and sleep in your own bed. This is ideal for people who don’t want to delay treatment but have responsibilities to school, work, or family. Depending on your needs, outpatient treatment can last from a month to several months.

    Intensive Outpatient Treatment

    Intensive outpatient treatment is a step between inpatient and outpatient treatment. It doesn’t require full hospitalization and constant supervision, but it’s a good choice for people who feel they need more support, guidance, and supervision than a typical outpatient program offers.


    After addiction treatment, you can transition into aftercare to prepare for ongoing recovery and the challenges of day-to-day life. These programs may include sober living, 12-step programs, ongoing therapy sessions, and relapse prevention strategies.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Long Can You Be on Subutex®? Chevron Down
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