Comparing Subutex vs. Suboxone is one of the most important comparisons when considering various detox medications. These and other drugs help you get through the early periods of detox and withdrawal from opioids. Before making a decision on which medication is best you should understand the differences between each.
After you use drugs for months or years at a time, your body develops a tolerance to and dependence upon them. Even though they’re ultimately bad for you, your body gets used to having them. You will experience withdrawals if you suddenly stop using drugs, especially painkillers, heroin, or other opioids, after using them for a long period of time.
Long-term exposure to pain-relieving opioid drugs affects the way you perceive pain. These withdrawals can be overwhelming and sometimes incredibly painful when you quit using opioids. Doctors developed different medications to help manage the withdrawal process and make it more tolerable.
Medication-assisted treatment in a detox environment includes the aid of detox drugs. You don’t usually get to choose which medication your doctor prescribes you. It’s still helpful to understand the differences between Subutex vs. Suboxone and other detox medications. Continue reading to learn more!
Understanding the Opioid Detox Process
Regular opioid use increases the number of opioid receptors in your brain. When you use opioids for a period of time, you develop a tolerance to them. This means you need to use more of them to receive the same effect because of the increasing number of receptors.
You experience a number of uncomfortable reactions, called withdrawal symptoms when you stop using opioids. The term “detox” refers to the period of time when you experience these symptoms. Early opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Irritation, frustration, or anger
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Aches in your muscles
- Runny nose
- Insomnia or difficulties staying asleep
Your withdrawal symptoms shift as more time passes since the last time you used opiates. Later stages of the detox period include symptoms such as:
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dilated pupils
Opioid withdrawal symptoms are worst during the first few days and lessen as more time goes by. Deciding to use Subutex vs. Suboxone can help relieve some of these physical and psychological reactions.
Understanding the Differences Between Subutex vs. Suboxone
Doctors use both Subutex and Suboxone to treat opioid addiction and withdrawal. Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain which are responsible for your body’s reaction to pain. Subutex and Suboxone are both opioid medications that contain the drug buprenorphine. There is a major difference between Subutex vs. Suboxone, though.
Subutex contains only buprenorphine as its active ingredient while Suboxone combines two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. You first need to understand the differences between buprenorphine and naloxone in order to compare Subutex vs. Suboxone.
What is Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in Subutex and one of the two active ingredients in Suboxone. It is an opioid medication that is referred to as an “opioid partial agonist” by medical professionals. This means that it interacts with the same opioid receptors in the brain in the same way that drugs like painkillers and heroin do.
Buprenorphine tricks your brain into thinking you’re giving it the same supply of opioids that it’s used to receiving. The biggest difference is that it doesn’t provide the usual high that makes opioids so exciting and addictive. Since the medications function in a way similar to opiates, they lessen and essentially eliminates the withdrawal symptoms you usually experience during opioid detox.
What Happens When You Combine Buprenorphine and Naloxone?
Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone as its two active ingredients. While buprenorphine tricks the brain into thinking it’s receiving a supply of opioids, naloxone is an “opioid antagonist” which blocks the effects of additional opiates. The combination of naloxone with buprenorphine aimed to reduce abuse of the medication.
Naloxone does not activate opioid receptors the way that buprenorphine does. If you use naloxone on its own, it fills these receptors but does not activate them, sending you into an immediate state of withdrawal. Combining the two drugs keeps receptors filled and activated but limits the potential for abuse.
Treatment with Subutex vs. Suboxone
The main difference between Subutex vs. Suboxone is the potential for abuse. Since Subutex contains only buprenorphine, an opioid agonist, it carries a higher chance of abuse. The naloxone in Suboxone keeps people from misusing it as often. If you take them only as directed, though, there is no possibility of abusing them.
If you decide to go to a medication-assisted treatment program you will most likely receive a prescription for Suboxone. It works just as well as Subutex but limits your ability and likelihood to abuse it. Your doctor has experience and understands what is best for you and your situation.