Suboxone and Subutex: What’s the Difference?

Suboxone and Subutex are two welcomed medications that have helped countless people put an end to their opioid addiction for good. 

For more than a decade, Americans have been caught in the midst of an opioid epidemic. People from all walks of life regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and geographical location have been affected by opioids that come from both the pharmacy and the streets. Since 1999, approximately 750,000 people have died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those 750,000 deaths, two out of three of them involved opioids like heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc. So many people have died from a drug overdose across the country that chances are you know at least one person who has lost their life to it. 

An unforeseen curveball was thrown into the opioid epidemic with the emergence of COVID-19. The CDC also reports that in the 12 months ending in May 2020, opioid overdose rose an astonishing 38.4%. Keep in mind that these results only account for the first three or so months of the pandemic and that the increase in opioid overdose deaths is likely much higher.

Even in the face of rising opioid overdose deaths, there is still an incredible amount of hope for those who recover from their opioid addictions and go on to live a sober life. Part of that hope comes from the implementation of medications like Suboxone and Subutex designed specifically to help treat opioid addiction. 

What are Suboxone and Subutex?

Suboxone and Subutex are two FDA-approved prescription medications that have been proven to help treat opioid dependence. They are most frequently prescribed to those participating in a medication-assisted treatment program (MAT) where they can benefit from the use of the medication while obtaining evidence-based therapies simultaneously. The length of time that a person stays on Suboxone or Subutex will depend on several factors, such as the severity of their opioid use disorder, the withdrawal symptoms they are experiencing, and if they have any other underlying mental health conditions. It is possible to include Subutex or Suboxone in a person’s treatment plan for a few weeks to a few years, but again that depends on factors that are unique to the individual. 

The Difference Between Suboxone and Subutex

Both Suboxone and Subutex are capable of helping to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms as well as curb cravings for continued opioid use. However, there are a few major differences between the two, starting with their ingredient make-up.

Subutex is the brand name for a medication containing only buprenorphine as its active ingredient. Suboxone is the brand name for a medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone. At first glance, this might not seem like a major difference, but it is. That is because of naloxone. 

What is naloxone?

  • Naloxone is the main ingredient in the popular opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan. It is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it binds directly to the opioid receptors in the brain and blocks the effects of opioids. It is also capable of reversing the effects of opioids, which is why it is commonly used in emergency situations where an individual is suspected of overdosing on opioids. But those who take Suboxone are not going to experience the same effect as someone who is administered straight naloxone. That is because Suboxone also contains buprenorphine.

What is buprenorphine?

  • Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This is where Suboxone and Subutex begin to vary. When buprenorphine is administered, it will also bind to the opioid receptors like naloxone does, but only does so partially. Because it does not fully bind, not all opioid effects are blocked and none are reversed. 

As mentioned before, Suboxone and Subutex both contain buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is capable of reducing cravings, reducing likelihood of relapse, and allowing individuals to focus on the therapeutic work they need to accomplish in their recovery without being distracted by prolonged withdrawal symptoms.This is the vital ingredient in both Suboxone and Subutex, as it does the most to help negate the negative effects of opioid addiction. But, why don’t both medications contain naloxone?

Subutex was proving to work wonders for those having powerful withdrawal symptoms and continued opioid cravings. It is still working to do those very same things! But, it was becoming obvious that people were beginning to abuse Subutex, throwing a wrench in recovery plans. Buprenorphine is not a habit-forming drug if it is taken as directed by a medical professional, but when it is abused, individuals can get high off of it. This is where Suboxone comes into play. 

With the inclusion of naloxone, Suboxone helped to mitigate abuse potential for those recovering from opioid addiction. Suboxone, like Subutex, can be habit-forming, but only when abused in large amounts. The risk of becoming addicted to Suboxone is much less, which makes this medication a viable option for all types of different patients (especially those with a history of severe opioid use disorder). 

Suboxone and Subutex, while they have been abused and continue to be abused, do much more help than harm. They have been attributed to saving the lives of countless individuals by helping reduce painful withdrawal symptoms and keep opioid craving at bay, allowing for a full focus on recovery. 

Drug Rehab in California 

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, know that you are not alone. You are not alone in your use and you are not alone in your recovery. This is a disease that is impacting millions of people throughout the United States.

The good news is that there is help. We are here to help you overcome your battle with opioid addiction so that you can begin living a happy, healthy, opioid-free life once and for all. 

So, do not wait any longer. Call us right now to learn more about how we can help you stop using and begin living a drug-free life.


  • My name is Matthew and I was a resident here at CBH from 6/22/2020 through 7/23/2020.. I just Graduated the program in 32 days and I am writing this because I am truly Thankful to them All.. I would like to Give CBH 7 Stars but it will only like me give 5.

    Matthew N.
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  • Let me start by saying that this place has saved my life as I had been struggling with alcoholism since getting out of college. I had tried numerous 12 step programs and always experienced somewhere that I always struggled to relate with. Once I arrived at California Behavioral Health, they welcomed me with open arms.

    Andy W

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