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Subutex for Opioid Withdrawal and Detox

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Subutex for Opioid Withdrawal and Detox


What Is Subutex?

Subutex was a sublingual (taken under the tongue) medication with the active ingredient Buprenorphine. Subutex as a brand name was discontinued in 2011, and now there are only generic forms of sublingual buprenorphine available, but many still refer to sublingual buprenorphine as “Subutex.” In this article, the terms “Subutex” and “Sublingual Buprenorphine” are to be used interchangeably.*

Subutex Doctor in Arizona

buprenorphine Chemical
Buprenorphine Compound

Subutex Doctors use Subutex for the treatment of opioid withdrawals during opioid detox. Subutex (buprenorphine) is a partial opioid Agonist — meaning that it will produce mild opioid affects, though not as strong as morphine or heroin.


How is Subutex Used For Opioid Detox?

Your Opioid Detox Doctor may choose to administer Subutex (Buprenorphine) to you in the first 1-2 days of opioid detox. The first 48 hours after quitting heroin and opioids, a patient is prone to opioid withdrawal symptoms. These are unpleasant symptoms, so doctors “ween” you off the opioid full agonists like heroin by supplementing a partial agonist like buprenorphine. This helps to step-down instead of a crash.

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Does Subutex Completely Block Opioid Withdrawals?

No, Subutex and Buprenorphine only ease the withdrawal symptoms, and is recommended in the early stages of detox and withdrawal. Buprenorphine will make the first 48 hours a little easier for you when quitting opioids, but the goal of detox is to remove the opioids from acting on the brain and body completely.

Subutex Vs Suboxone

Suboxone is another popular medication containing Buprenorphine that is used during opioid detox. However, Suboxone has the opioid antagonist “Naloxone” added to it. Naloxone, you may recognize, is the drug that reverses opioid overdoses by removing opioids from their neuro-receptors in the brain.

naloxone Chemical
Naloxone Chemical

The reason Naloxone is added to Buprenorphine in Suboxone is the potential for abuse. As we previously mentioned, Subutex will give you the mild affects of opioids (like heroin), but not the full effect. The potential for opioid addicts to abuse Subutex is very real, especially in intravenous opioid users.

If someone tries to abuse large amounts of Suboxone or inject it, the Naloxone will immediately precipitate withdrawal symptoms. A Suboxone abuser will usually only attempt to abuse the drug once, as the threat of the withdrawal symptoms help to disassociate opioids with pleasure or rewarding feelings.

It is important to understand that most buprenorphine forms now have some form of naloxone in them to prevent abuse. This is a big reason why the brand name: “Subutex” was discontinued.

Is Subutex Still Used For Detox?

Subutex was the brand name for a sublingual buprenorphine medication. It is no longer sold under the brand name Subutex, as newer formulations have replaced Subutex. However, buprenorphine (The active ingredient) is still used in opioid detox medications.

When you go to opioid detox, you will likely not receive Subutex brand buprenorphine but rather a different brand or generic version of buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine in Mesa Arizona - Active Recovery Care

Suboxone For High Risk Opioid Addictions

Your opioid detox doctor may also choose to administer Suboxone over Subutex if you have a high risk or history of relapse with illicit street opioids. If your doctor worries that you may try and get high again using heroin, fentanyl, or other street drugs that have a high risk of opioid overdose and death, Suboxone may be chosen to prevent accidental overdose.

It should be noted that suboxone is a slightly more extreme choice for medicated opioid detox than Subutex. But the choice of Suboxone is usually reserved for those with a history of abusing prescriptions or those at an extremely high risk of overdose.

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Subutex Vs. Methadone

Active Recovery Care, and many other opioid detox facilities do not opt to use methadone for detox or for opioid addiction management. Why? Methadone is a pretty serious drug, that should not be taken lightly. Methadone should be reserved for treating only the more serious cases of opioid addiction for pain management and addiction management.

Methadone is a better fit for high-risk opioid addicts that need a harm reduction model of treatment (preventing overdose and maintaining quality of life is the main focus, over stopping the use of opioids). Methadone.

Methadone is a Full Agonist — not a partial agonist or opioid antagonist. This means you will still get the full affects of the opioids. It does not help in quitting opioids, it is only a replacement type of opioid. Methadone is only recommended as an addiction or pain management medication — not for quitting or detoxing from opioids.

Opioid Detox in Mesa Arizona - Active Recovery Care Medically Supervised Detox

So why is Methadone used in Addiction Treatment?

Those with terminal illnesses and severe pain — who are expected to have to be on painkillers or opioids for long periods of time — are better candidates for methadone. Methadone is used to replace more harmful medications and drugs like heroin and/or morphine. Methadone doctors may choose to put you on a methadone schedule to get you off-of heroin and other opioids, but the goal is not usually to quit completely using opioids with methadone.

Methadone is also notoriously difficult to detox-from. Methadone withdrawal symptoms are usually very strong, and more unpleasant than withdrawal from other opioids. This is why opioid addicts and their families should be well-educated about the types of opioids before simply searching for a nearby methadone clinic for themselves or a loved one. Methadone incorrectly prescribed can worsen substance abuse issues.


Methadone Detox Using Buprenorphine

Those who are already addicted to methadone, however, may need to detox from the drug eventually. When it comes time to detox from methadone, detox professionals will usually opt to switching you from methadone to a buprenorphine medication. This acts as a step-down in the intensity of the opioid medications used for addiction management — you still get the partial opioid affects of buprenorphine until you are ready to step down again to a full opioid detox.

*NOTE – Active Recovery Care DOES NOT offer methadone, but we can help you detox FROM methadone. Contact us to learn more…

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioids in Arizona - Active Recovery Care

Subutex Doctors in Mesa, Arizona

Dr Melissa Ferrell and the Staff at Active Recovery Care are licensed to provide detox services using a number of different opioid detox medications, including Subutex and Suboxone. To start the process, you will request a consultation from ARC, and our opioid detox doctors will match your detox and medication needs.

The science of opioids, agonists, and antagonists is very wide, and it allows us to offer those addicted to opioids many options for treating their substance abuse and pain management concerns. We invite all those in Arizona who are curious about medication assisted treatment (MAT) to contact us today.

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Counseling and Integrated Therapy for Substance Abuse

We have integrated substance abuse counselors and therapists available to patients to help with all mental health concerns that you may also have.

Mental Health Counseling and Therapy Provided By Our Integrated Team At The Arizona Relationship Institute:

Our nutritional team will also help you with any malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, or chronic health conditions that are also ailing you and may be contributing to the substance abuse.

Nutritional & Medical Treatment Provided By Our Integrated Team At The Family Allergy Clinic & Wellness Center:

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Active Recovery Care is the first step in treating your concerns with opioids. We help you through the detox stages and onto the next phases of treatment, based on your unique needs.

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