Suboxone: A Safer Alternative to Methadone


As a top addiction treatment facility, White Sands Treatment Center often hears questions like, “What is Subutex?” “What is methadone?” and “How does methadone work?” Subutex and Suboxone both contain an ingredient called buprenorphine. Suboxone and Subutex are drugs used to treat opiate addiction, as is methadone. Subutex is a brand name for buprenorphine, while in Suboxone. buprenorphine is combined with another drug, naloxone. Both of these medications have been shown to interact with the same brain receptors that are impacted by opiates. Thus, these medications are effective for alleviating painful withdrawal symptoms and the strong cravings that people usually experience when they stop taking opiates.

Opiates include the street drug heroin as well as prescription pain medications such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Dilaudid, and morphine. Although opiates are effective for managing pain, they are highly addictive. Opiates attach themselves to receptors in the brain, the spinal cord, and the gastrointestinal tract. Once a person is addicted to opiates, stopping the drug causes extreme physical withdrawal symptoms. Within the first 24 hours of withdrawal, a person will begin to feel restless, anxious, and achy. The addict will also begin yawning often and have a runny nose, tearing eyes, excessive sweating, and insomnia. After the first 24 hours, symptoms advance to include abdominal cramping, goosebumps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure. These symptoms are usually extreme and uncomfortable, but they begin to subside after about 72 hours. By one week, the symptoms are usually completely gone.

Medical detox for an opiate addiction requires careful professional supervision of the patient. Many addicts receive prescription medication that will minimize the withdrawal symptoms. Two of the synthetic opioids used in this process are methadone and buprenorphine. Suboxone and Subutex both contain buprenorphine, but the inclusion of naloxone in Suboxone makes it less prone to abuse, and it has largely replaced Subutex as a withdrawal treatment option. These drugs are more accessible, less-addictive alternatives to methadone, though methadone is still used by some addicts in need of long-term drug therapy. A physician will determine whether methadone or buprenorphine is the best medication based on an addict’s history.

Methadone eases opiate addiction withdrawal by blocking the high of the opiates. Methadone is a full agonist opiate, which means that taken in high dosages, it can be dangerous. When a physician prescribes and supervises a patient’s detox with methadone, the outcome is typically without issue; however, lethal overdose is possible. The buprenorphine present in Suboxone works similarly to methadone. Suboxone is a partial agonist opiate, which means that this medication can only partially activate the opiate receptors, and then the results stop. Suboxone has maximum effects that cannot be increased despite the dosage, which means that overdosing is unlikely. Because of this dosage ceiling, physicians can even prescribe Suboxone in home dosages. Extreme care is still required when taking this medication, especially when taking it in conjunction with other medications.

Anyone wondering about drug addiction and specifically an opiate addiction might find themselves asking the question, “What is Subutex?” as they explore possible treatment options. At White Sands Treatment Center in Fort Myers, Florida, we have a private and accredited treatment facility that includes full rehab services to help people recover from drug addiction successfully. Our high-quality programs are covered by many private insurance plans, and we can even help with travel arrangements, when necessary. Our treatment plan begins with a free assessment to determine the specific needs of every patient. Our team devises a custom and personalized treatment plan that addresses the addiction issues. Medical detox is both safe and comprehensive to help addicts prepare for the rehabilitation journey that lays ahead. We offer therapy and counseling to help patients explore their addiction and their triggers. The individualized counseling also focuses on strategies to manage these triggers and cope with them effectively and positively after discharge. When it’s time to get help, call us at White Sands Treatment Center. You can also fill out the form on our website, and a representative will reach out to you with a solution for getting sober.