Opioid addiction is a life-threatening struggle that can be effectively treated with medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines the use of medication and therapy.
Medications approved to treat opioid addiction include:
- buprenorphine (Subutex)
- buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone, Zubsolv)
One common question people have is: which medication is best for opioid addiction? All of these treatment medications can be effective for helping people recover from addiction.
Read more about medication-assisted treatment
What Is The Difference Between Suboxone And Subutex?
Although they both contain buprenorphine, there are several differences between Suboxone and Subutex. Namely, their form, ingredients, and potential for abuse.
What Is Subutex?
Subutex is the brand name for buprenorphine, a schedule III controlled substance.
Unlike Suboxone, Subutex does not contain naloxone—a drug capable of blocking the effects of other opioid drugs.
Buprenorphine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid dependence in 2002 and may be offered during detox to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms.
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What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is the brand name for a combination product containing buprenorphine and naloxone. It comes in the form of a sublingual film, whereas Subutex comes in the form of a sublingual tablet.
Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist that is FDA-approved to treat opioid dependence.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that’s FDA-approved to treat and reverse an opioid overdose.
Suboxone was approved by the FDA in 2012 as an alternative to Subutex to treat opioid addiction. It is generally taken daily as a short-term or long-term treatment.
Potential For Abuse
Compared to Subutex, Suboxone has a lower abuse potential. This is because it contains naloxone, which—when combined with buprenorphine—can create a ceiling effect.
This ceiling effect means that Suboxone is unlikely to lead to respiratory depression or euphoria—both of which can occur as side effects of buprenorphine alone.
Unlike full opioid agonists like methadone or heroin, the euphoric effects of buprenorphine are much weaker. When taken as directed, buprenorphine can be safe and effective.
What Is The Difference Between Suboxone And Zubsolv?
Suboxone and Zubsolv are both combination drug products containing buprenorphine and naloxone.
Differences between the two drugs include:
- Form: Suboxone comes in the form of a film. Zubsolv comes in tablet form.
- Cost: Zubsolv is more expensive than Suboxone.
- Bioavailability: Zubsolv can produce the same effects as Suboxone in smaller doses.
- Taste: Zubsolv has a minty taste, while Suboxone has a citrus taste.
Benefits Of Suboxone, Subutex, and Zubsolv For Opiate Addiction
Despite their differences, all three of these medications can offer significant benefits for people who are struggling with opioid addiction, due to how they work.
Buprenorphine drugs can:
- reduce opioid cravings
- reduce effects of physical dependency (i.e. opioid withdrawal symptoms)
- reduce the risk of fatal overdose
- help keep people in treatment
Treatment providers will prescribe medications for opioid addiction based on each person’s individual needs and other factors, such as cost and drug availability.
Are There Dangers Of Taking Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is safe and effective for opioid addiction when taken as prescribed.
Due to its potential for misuse, the use of buprenorphine alone may be subject to monitoring by your doctor.
Buprenorphine, and its combination products, can also cause some side effects, including constipation and physical dependence.
Can You Overdose On Buprenorphine?
Overdose can occur if you take buprenorphine with other depressants, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids.
This risk is lower with Suboxone and Zubsolv, due to the presence of naloxone.
Where Can You Find Subutex And Suboxone Treatment?
Suboxone and Subutex can be prescribed for use at home.
They may also be provided as part of an addiction treatment program for people who abuse prescription painkillers like oxycodone or the illicit drug heroin.
Treatment programs that may offer Suboxone or Subutex include:
- inpatient treatment programs
- residential rehab programs
- partial hospitalization programs
- intensive outpatient treatment
- outpatient treatment programs
Not all rehab centers or doctors offer the same treatments for opioid addiction.
You’ll have to check with the treatment provider beforehand if you’re wondering whether they offer Suboxone or Subutex as a treatment option.
Recovery from opioid addiction is possible. If you’re ready to find treatment for yourself or a loved one addicted to opioids, call our helpline today to find treatment options near you.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA)—How effective are medications to treat opioid use disorder?
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—Buprenoprhine
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—Naloxone
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—Medication Assisted Treatment
- Zubsolv—Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)