Buprenorphine, Suboxone or Subutex – Which Do You Need?
If you are addicted to opiates, do you need to take buprenorphine, Suboxone or Subutex – and what's the difference between these anyway?
Buprenorphine is an opiate, actually it's a partial opiate agonist (kind of like an opiate that doesn’t work that well) and it is the active "opiate" ingredient in both Suboxone and Subutex. Subutex and Suboxone are the only 2 FDA approved medications containing the opiate buprenorphine for use in the treatment of addiction.
Suboxone and Subutex – What's the Difference?
- Both are pills that you take sublingually (let dissolve under the tongue).
- Subutex is a pill that contains only one medicinal ingredient – buprenorphine
- Suboxone is a pill that contains 2 medicinal ingredients – buprenorphine and Naloxone – in a 4-1 ratio.
Why are they different?
When you start taking buprenorphine, you will likely start with a couple of days of induction. A couple of days during which time your body is growing accustomed to the switch from your drug of abuse to the buprenorphine, and during which time your doctor will be adjusting the dosage to get optimal results.
During this induction phase, Subutex is often used. Some doctors prefer to use only Suboxone from the start.
After the induction phase you will be given Suboxone, which is a mixture of 2 drugs, buprenorphine and Naloxone, and you will stay on Suboxone until you decide to stop buprenorphine therapy entirely. Subutex is used only in the beginning (or in some cases for people with unique medical needs).
Why Does Suboxone Contain Naloxone?
One of the main reasons why people prefer Suboxone to methadone is that Suboxone can be prescribed in a take home dose of several weeks or a month, while methadone must be taken under supervision in a clinic each day.
One of the main reasons why Suboxone can be taken home is because it contains Naloxone, and that Naloxone makes it a lot tougher to abuse.
Naloxone is an opiate antagonist. If you were to take only Naloxone, you would not be able to feel the effects of any opiate type drugs. If you took a dose of Naloxone and then took heroin – you would not feel the heroin.
Suboxone is taken sublingually. When the pill is dissolved under the tongue – the buprenorphine in the pill is absorbed into the body, but the Naloxone is not. Naloxone just doesn't work very well sublingually.
If you take Suboxone as directed, sublingually, the Naloxone does not work, and you only get the effects of the opiate buprenorphine.
If you try to abuse Suboxone by injecting it, then the Naloxone is completely activated, and will block all of the effects of the buprenorphine. If you inject Suboxone, the Naloxone will fill the opiate receptors in the brain and not only will you not get high – you will go into an immediate and full state of opiate withdrawal.
The Naloxone in Suboxone makes it less likely abused, and since you probably won't abuse it, there is no reason why you can't take home a few weeks supply at a time.