Can you get addicted to Subutex? Is Subutex addictive?

Subutex (buprenorphine) has a low abuse potential. The risk of developing addiction is also low. However, some people grow an uncontrollable need and compulsion for Subutex, which is characterized as addiction. Read more details, here.

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NO, no really. Subutex is not highly addictive because Subutex does not get you high unless used in ways OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED. Still, there is a slight addictive potential that seems to “hook” some individuals. How?

While used mainly in the treatment of opioid dependence and addiction, Subutex does contain buprenophine, which is also an opioid drug. Most commonly, those who develop Subutex addiction are using it to help them tackle another opiate addiction.

But what makes Subutex addictive? And how do you know that you’ve become addicted to Subutex, or not?  We review these questions here and invite your questions about the addictive potential of Subutex at the end.

What is Subutex used for?

Subutex is a medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of opiate dependence. It contains the active ingredient “buprenorphine hydrochloride”, which works to address symptoms of opiate dependence to stronger drugs like heroin, codeine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone.

Buprenorphine targets the opioid receptors in the brain that control how the body reacts to natural and synthetic opioids. By occupying these receptors in the brain, Subutex helps with the management of withdrawal symptoms from opioids and cravings. Subutex helps with drug cravings AND delays withdrawal. In effect, it makes it difficult to feel the effects of opiates while lessening the need for them.

What is Subutex made of?

Subutex is a Schedule III controlled substance because it contains buprenorphine, which is an opioid drug. There are many benefits from Subutex treatment as a part of a full and structured addiction treatment. In fact, medication-assisted treatment is often the best choice for dealing with opiate addiction, along with counseling and other types of support. However, despite all the benefits that come with taking Subutex regularly, it can be habit-forming.

Subutex for opiate dependence

Before you start taking Subutex, you’ll need to seek medical consult; you need an examination, assessment and doctor’s clearance for Subutex to be prescribed as an addict beginning recovery treatment. Subutex comes in the form of a tablet intended for sublingual use, meaning you keep it under your tongue until it dissolves (which usually takes 3-7 minutes).

The initial dose amount and duration of use depends on the current usage and historical dosing of opiates. For instance, if a person is taking heroin, at least 8 hours need to pass before Subutex use. By comparison, methadone requires a window of 24-36 hours of abstinence before Subutex treatment can begin. Doses of Subutex are generally increased over the days that follow initiation, or until it begins helping you of withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Deciding to take Subutex

One of the best things about being on Subutex treatment during recovery is that it provides the time for patients to focus on other things. Subutex users can focus on their efforts to repair and rebuild relationships, to learn form the experiences and mistakes, to better benefit from counseling, and to construct a new, positive life. However, Subutex is not one treatment that fits all and while some can truly benefit from it, others won’t. Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of Subutex treatment for opioid addiction to help you decide:


  • addresses and delays symptoms of opiate withdrawal
  • available in a pill form, so you don’t have to go to clinics
  • blocks the need for drug use and drug cravings
  • increases chances for successful recovery
  • less addictive than other substitute drugs
  • less costly than other treatments or than buying drugs


  • abuse can lead to overdose or death
  • can be habit-forming and addictive for some individuals
  • dangerous if mixed with benzodiazepines, alcohol or other drugs or meds
  • maintenance treatment can last up to 3 years or more-this can be costly
  • may produce unwanted side effects

Subutex addiction potential questions

Be cautious! Abusing Subutex recreationally or in doses/ways other than prescribed can lead to addiction or cross-addiction. Learn more about Suboxone Addiction Treatment Programs and Help to get ready to find the best addiction treatment program for you.

Subutex addiction is a chronic issue that is characterized by psychological need for a drug and continued use despite negative consequences to home, work, or social life. Most people can’t control an addiction on their own, and treatment is the best option.

If you or a loved one are concerned that a potential Subutex addiction has formed, you can ask for help. Medical and psychotherapeutic professionals have already helped many people give up buprenorphine and move forward in addiction treatment.

If you have any questions or concerns you’d like to share with us, please use the section below. We try to carefully read each one comment and then provide a personal and prompt answer. If we cannot specifically answer a question, we’ll refer you to someone who can.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA: The facts about BUPRENORPHINE
SAMHSA: Buprenorphine: About Buprenorphine Therapy
FDA: Subutex and Suboxone Questions and Answers
Justice: Intelligence Bulletin: Buprenorphine: Potential for Abuse
MedlinePlus: Buprenorphine Sublingual
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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