Suboxone and Subutex: Is there a Difference?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 4 million people have abused opioid pain relievers in the past month. This statistic is staggering, and it points to the desperate need for treatment options when it comes to opiate dependence. Fortunately, in recent years there have been a number of advances in medications for the treatment of opiate addiction. The most promising of these are Suboxone and Subutex. Both serve the same purpose, but they are also different.

Similarities Between Suboxone and Subutex

Suboxone and Subutex can be prescribed in a doctor's office.

Suboxone and Subutex can be prescribed in a doctor’s office.

The most obvious thing that Suboxone and Subutex have in common is their primary active ingredient, buprenorphine. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, buprenorphine is a sublingual tablet, prescribed under the brand names of Suboxone and Subutex, for the treatment of opiate dependence and addiction. They also have other things in common, such as:

  • the fact that both can be prescribed in a doctor’s office,
  • both are outpatient medications that can be taken at home,
  • both are effective in the treatment of opiate dependence and addiction, and
  • both are opioid agonists, meaning they work to block opioid receptors in the brain, which reduces cravings for, and some of the pleasurable effects of, opiate abuse.

All of these similarities may make it seem as though Suboxone and Subutex are the same thing. However, they most certainly are not the same, and the difference between them is a substantial one.

The Difference Between Suboxone and Subutex

There is only one real difference between Suboxone and Subutex. That difference is naloxone. According to the National Library of Medicine, the only active ingredient in Subutex is buprenorphine, whereas Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning that causes anyone that uses opiates while on it to immediately go into withdrawal. This creates a number of added benefits for Suboxone over Subutex. These include:

  • less chance of accidental overdose,
  • less chance of abuse,
  • less chance of relapse, and
  • less chance of combining other medications with it.

All of these benefits help maintain the medication maintenance treatment, and increase the chances of recovery from opiate abuse.

Why it Matters

No one treatment option is right for everyone. If you are struggling with opiate dependence or addiction, it is important that you speak with your doctor or a treatment professional about your options, to determine if Suboxone is right for you and your circumstances. What is most important, however, is that you seek help. Addiction is a dangerous and complicated disease, but there is help available.