Subutex and Suboxone are both pharmaceutical drugs used to treat opiate addiction. Both of these drugs work to reduce or eliminate opiate withdrawal symptoms by acting as partial agonists to the opioid receptors in the brain. Subutex and Suboxone contain buprenorhine as the main active ingredient which delivers the calming effect and eliminates opiate withdrawal symptoms. So what’s the difference?
Suboxone Contains Naloxone
The difference between the two drugs is that Suboxone contains naloxone which is an antagonist to the opioid receptors. Naloxone works to reduce the impact that buprenorphine has on the individual’s opioid receptors. This is why taking Suboxone does not deliver the same, more intense high as Subutex or other opiate drugs such as methadone, morphine, or heroin.
How Does Buprenorphine Work?
When someone is going through opiate withdrawal, the opioid receptors in their brain are not being activated at sufficient levels. Buprenorphine basically takes care of this deficiency by binding to those receptors that are not being activated and partially activating them, causing the individual to feel good again. In a normal state, the body can produce the necessary supply of chemicals to bind to all of the opioid receptors in the brain; however, under opiate withdrawal conditions, there is a serious deficiency because of all the hyperactivity previously caused by immense opiate consumption. Unlike heroin or methadone which are full opioid agonists, buprenorphine is only a partial agonist, keeping the person from experiencing an intense euphoric high. This is why individuals taking Suboxone and Subutex can still function normally in their personal and work life throughout treatment. See the chemical structure of buprenorhine below: