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How Can a Subutex Doctor Treat Substance Abuse?

Suboxone, which is available only by prescription, can help opioid addicts recover because it reduces withdrawal symptoms and helps addicts better control their drug cravings. Suboxone is helpful, but since it is a prohibited substance, getting a prescription for it in an emergency might be challenging. In medication-assisted therapy (MAT), Subutex is used to help patients cut back on or stop using heroin or other opioids like morphine or other painkillers.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex) for the office-based treatment of opioid addiction in 2002. Office-based pharmacotherapy aims to increase the number of opiate-dependent patients receiving treatment and the number of doctors addressing this issue. In this post, I review everything you need to know about Subutex, the difference between Subutex vs Suboxone, and how a Subutex Doctor can help you with your substance abuse. Read ahead and find out how doctors use Subutex to treat substance abuse. 



What is Subutex?

The drug Subutex is helpful in the fight against addiction. Subutex is used in programs to reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms and deter drug abuse. Before they are permitted to prescribe Subutex, doctors must fulfill specific requirements. Treatment for opioid addiction and dependence involves buprenorphine. The medication buprenorphine(another name for Subutex) is a mixed opioid agonist-antagonist pharmacological class member drug. It assists in avoiding withdrawal symptoms brought on by quitting the use of other opioids. It is utilized as a component of a comprehensive drug misuse treatment program (such as compliance monitoring, counseling, behavioral contract, and lifestyle changes).

How Buprenorphine (Subutex) Works

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. At low to moderate doses, it causes side effects including euphoria or respiratory depression. The effects of buprenorphine, however, are less potent than those of complete opioid agonists like methadone and heroin. Formerly used as a painkiller, buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist that interacts with opioid receptors in the brain to reduce pain and promote feelings of well-being. Although buprenorphine isn’t a complete opioid, it behaves quite similarly to one when used as prescribed, providing moderate receptor site activity but no euphoria. Buprenorphine will therefore stop opiate withdrawal symptoms from occurring and lessen cravings for heroin and prescription medications. Buprenorphine(Subutex) is safe and effective when taken as directed. Buprenorphine’s distinctive pharmacological characteristics and benefits include:

  • Reduce the negative effects of physical opioid dependence, including cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Boost safety in overdose situations
  • Reduce the likelihood of abuse

Doctors Using Buprenorphine(Subutex) for Opioid Use Disorder

Using Subutex is one of the most useful methods to treat substance dependence. An OUD patient must be in the early stages of opioid withdrawal and have abstained from opioid use for at least 12 to 24 hours in order to start treatment. Patients who are not in the early stages of withdrawal or who have opioids in their bloodstream may experience acute withdrawal.

If necessary, the dose of buprenorphine may be changed once a patient has stopped using opioids altogether or has reduced their usage, is no longer feeling cravings, and is having minimal, if any, negative effects. Once patients are stabilized, it may be possible to go from daily to alternate-day dosing due to buprenorphine’s long-acting nature. 

Each patient’s needs are taken into account when determining how long they will get buprenorphine, and in some circumstances, therapy may be indefinite. Individuals can participate in ongoing treatment, either with or without MAT, to ward off potential relapse.

Benefits Of Subutex

If you are battling with substance abuse, Subutex may be able to help as part of a thorough treatment program or as prescribed by a Subutex doctor at a clinic.

Treatment with Subutex has two main advantages, which are:

  • reduction of heroin and other opioid withdrawal’s harsh withdrawal phase and cravings.
  • stabilization of symptoms, enabling emphasis on behavioral therapy as part of addiction treatment.

What Makes Subutex Different?

Contrary to methadone, which is only offered as a drug for the treatment of addiction through rigid methadone clinics, buprenorphine can be prescribed and administered at doctor’s offices. Buprenorphine prescriptions can now be obtained from a licensed U.S. doctor in-office rather than at a particular clinic, greatly expanding access to treatment. To better provide a “whole-patient” approach to addiction therapy, buprenorphine, like any other medication used in MAT, is a component of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes counseling and behavioral therapies.

How Effective is Subutex In Treating Substance Abuse?

When used as a part of an all-encompassing treatment plan that treats the body, mind, and environment where opioids have been used, Subutex treatment is more likely to be successful. For instance, therapy might combine buprenorphine with counseling, alternative therapies, and the creation of a strong social support system made up of friends, family, and peers. An overdose from taking buprenorphine alone is unlikely to occur.



While making constructive changes in their lives, the person is kept stable by buprenorphine maintenance. Because Subutex’s effects continue for a long time, only once per day, or even less frequently, is necessary for dosage. Subutex is much less expensive than heroin. Therefore, doctors find Subutex suitable and safe medication when it comes to treating substance abuse.  

Side Effects Of Subutex

Subutex should be taken under the strict supervision of a Subutex Specialist. Subutex has a lot of potential for abuse. Here are common side effects of taking Subutex:

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Respiratory distress
  • Overdose
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal

What Happens During A Subutex Treatment Substance Abuse Session?

In general, those beginning an addiction treatment program can anticipate moving through a number of steps, with some minor adjustments made to each operation to meet the needs of individual patients. These actions could involve:

  • a step of assessment to ascertain the patient’s unique treatment requirements, which may involve a physical examination and a mental health assessment.
  • Detoxification: When treating opioid use problems, a medical detox procedure is frequently used.
  • counseling and therapy, both individual and group.
  • Any major co-occurring medical or mental health conditions should get medical and/or psychiatric therapy.
  • Before the program is over, the personnel at the treatment facility will help you make a strategy for your ongoing recovery. This plan may include things like alumni programs, consistent outpatient therapy, and support group participation.
  • Verify if your insurance is active.

Can Buprenorphine(Subutex) Interact With Other Drugs?

It can be extremely risky to combine methadone or buprenorphine with other medicines that depress the central nervous system. Avoid alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other opioids (e.g., Ativan, Xanax, Restoril, Valium, clonazepam). It is particularly dangerous to take them after beginning opioid agonist therapy. Your dose of buprenorphine may wear off more quickly if you use other medicines while receiving opioid agonist therapy, which increases the likelihood that you will suffer withdrawal.

Subutex vs Suboxone: What’s The Difference?

So what’s the difference between suboxone and subutex? Let’s explore:

Buprenorphine is a Schedule III substance, meaning it has a lower potential for addiction than methadone, which is a Schedule II substance. Buprenorphine is hence frequently regarded as a safer opiate therapy drug than methadone. The FDA authorized Suboxone and Subutex, two medications designed to treat opiate addiction, in 2002. The key distinction is that Subutex solely contains buprenorphine, whereas Suboxone also contains naloxone. Buprenorphine is a Schedule III substance, meaning it has a lower potential for addiction than methadone, which is a Schedule II substance. Buprenorphine is hence frequently regarded as a safer opiate therapy drug than methadone. The Drug Enforcement Agency reports that in 2013, approximately 16,000 doctors were authorized to administer drugs like Suboxone and Subutex that contain buprenorphine. 9.3 million prescriptions for these drugs were written in 2012. Naloxone and buprenorphine were combined to create Suboxone in order to prevent drug misuse. Since naloxone is an opioid antagonist, it prevents opioids from acting at receptor sites. When Suboxone is injected, the user experiences induced withdrawal, which can be upsetting. Regarding their risk for abuse, Subutex and Suboxone also differ from one another. Naloxone is present in Suboxone, which may make it less likely to be abused. As a result, those with serious addictions or those who have already sought treatment but relapsed may find that this is the best option.



The Bottom Line…

An opioid drug called buprenorphine or commonly known as Subutex is used to treat pain and opioid addiction. Buprenorphine can be administered as a patch that is placed on the skin while it is being used to relieve pain. For seven days, it relieves discomfort. Buprenorphine(Subutex) and naloxone are used to treat opioid addiction, typically in the form of a pill that is swallowed sublingually (sublingual). More than 47,000 Americans passed away from an opioid overdose in 2017.  In the same year, it was projected that 1.7 million Americans battled an opioid use disorder involving prescription medications. 7 million people’s lives are at risk due to the diversion and misuse of prescription opioids, yet there are drugs like buprenorphine that can help these people cure their opioid use disorders. By mixing naloxone with buprenorphine, which can trigger withdrawal if injected, you can stop people from abusing the drug. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, do not delay and seek treatment at your earliest convenience at any Outpatient rehab where doctors use Subutex to treat substance abuse. 

Are you suffering from substance abuse? Find a substance abuse professional that can help you overcome your addiction.

Jordyn Mastrodomenico LPC, LCADC CTP
Author: Jordyn Mastrodomenico LPC, LCADC CTP

Jordyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) and Certified Trauma Professional (CTP). She holds a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling, from Caldwell University, Jordyn has extensive experience in Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient settings and is skilled at guiding clients through the recovery process in individual and group therapy sessions.

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