What is Subutex?

Subutex (buprenorphine) is a medicine prescribed to adults who are addicted to opioid drugs, including heroin and narcotic painkillers like morphine. Subutex can help you break your dependence on opioid drugs by preventing or stopping withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking opioids and by reducing cravings for the drugs. It works by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, which prevents the abused drugs from hooking on and having an effect.

Other medicines that treat opioid dependence, such as methadone, are distributed only at clinics where the doctors specialize in addiction treatment. When Subutex was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002, it was the first drug for treating opioid addiction that could be distributed in a doctor's office and dispensed at a pharmacy.

If you are trying to break an addiction to opioids, your doctor is likely to start you on a low dose of Subutex and have you take it in his or her office. Your doctor may increase your dose over several days. Eventually, you'll probably be switched to another drug, Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, another ingredient that helps with opioid withdrawal.

Subutex is less addictive than methadone and is easier to take. It comes as a 2 milligram (mg) or 8 mg tablet. The tablets go under your tongue, where they dissolve.

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