Does Subutex help with cravings?

Yes, Subutex works to stop cravings, block withdrawal symptoms, and prevents “dope sickness” as well as the euphoric “high” from heroin and other opiate based drugs. More on how Subutex works here.

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Subutex (main ingredient buprenorphine) works to stop cravings, block withdrawal symptoms, and prevents “dope sickness” as well as the “high” from heroin and other opiates and opioids. In fact, Subutex is an appropriate treatment for people who are physically or psychologically dependent on opiates or opioids, such as heroin and prescription painkillers. But use of Subutex requires medical supervision.

So, what are cravings in the first place? How exactly can Subutex help with them? How is Subutex prescribed? We provide you with answers in this article. If you still have questions, please leave them in the comments section at the end. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

What are drug cravings?

A craving is a state during which your mind develops an overwhelming desire for use of drug. A craving is mainly based in the brain, but it can manifest as physical symptoms. Not everyone who uses harder drugs like opiates or opioids experiences cravings. But it is difficult to stop using opiates after you have become addicted, because the cravings are so strong and the fear of withdrawal is so great. Appropriate treatment helps you get through withdrawal and cope with cravings.

How can Subutex help with cravings?

Does Subutex get you high? No, on the contrary it can help prevent an opiate high. Subutex is one of three medications commonly used to treat opiate addiction to drugs like heroin, morphine, codeine, oxcodone, or hydrocodone. The other two are methadone and naltrexone. Costs vary for these different medications. You may need to take this into account when considering your treatment options. So does it work, exactly?

The person who takes Subutex regularly as prescribed will feel normal, not high. This is because the main ingredient in Subutex – buprenorphine – is an a partial agonist at mu-opioid receptors in the central nervous system and an antagonist at the kappa-opioid receptors. It occupies these brain nerve receptors in a way that “trick” the brain into thinking it is receiving an opiate drug, thereby putting off withdrawal symptoms. Similarly, buprenorphine also reduces cravings. The main effects of buprenorphine are to:

  • decreased ability to experience euphoria
  • decreased physical dependence
  • lower the potential for Subutex misuse (it can’t make you high)

At the appropriate dose, Subutex treatment can:

  • block the effects of other opioids
  • decrease cravings for opioids
  • help patients stay in treatment
  • reduce illicit opioid use
  • suppress symptoms of opioid withdrawal

If cravings continue to be a problem after regular use of Subutex, your doctor will adjust your medication or help you find other ways to reduce them. Subutex is unlikely to be as effective as more optimal-dose methadone, and therefore may not be the treatment of choice for people with higher levels of physical dependence. Still, Subutex is more effective than placebo tests and is equally as effective as moderate doses of methadone in maintenance therapy treatments.

Subutex prescription for cravings treatment

Use of Subutex should be combined with concurrent behavioral therapies and with the provision of needed social services. This point so important that doctors have to take a special training course to be approved to prescribe Subutex. Physicians must attest to their capacity to refer patients for counseling when they apply to the DEA to begin prescribing buprenorphine based products.  Doctors then must take an eight (8) hour class on addiction treatment, or already possess such credentials, and then apply for a special DEA identification number.

Each doctor can treat up to 30 patients at one time, but no more. Ask if your doctor has gotten a waiver so you do not have to go to another doctor for treatment. Or, call or visit the SAMHSA website to find doctors near you who can prescribe Subutex. Doctors in each State who have waivers to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opiate addiction are listed on the SAMHSA Buprenorphine Physician Locator Web site. If your doctor is interested, SAMHSA also lists information about apply for permission to prescribe buprenorphine.

Who CAN use Subutex for cravings help?

Doctors cannot predict which individual will do better on Subutex and which one will do better on methadone. Subutex may be a good choice if:

  1. there is no methadone clinic near you
  2. you cannot get into a methadone clinic
  3. you don’t want to go to a clinic every day to get your dose of methadone
  4. you want your regular doctor to be the one who is treating you

However, abusing Subutex (using it recreationally, or not as prescribed) can lead to addiction and you may feel cravings to use Subutex again and again. If you or a loved one ever experience a problem with Subutex, don’t wait to get help. See here what Subutex addiction treatment programs and the rehab process look like.

Subutex help with cravings questions

Do you still have questions about how Subutex helps with cravings? In case there is something you would like to know, please ask your question(s) in the comments section below. We at Addiction Blog will do our best to answer all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NAABT: Who can prescribe buprenorphine
SAMHSA: The facts about Buprenorphine
SAMHSA: About buprenorphine therapy
Health NY: Buprenorphine A New Drug for Treating Heroin Addiction
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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  1. If you are not physically dependent on a opiate but you have been abusing drugs for approx 10 years benzos and alcohol being drugs of choice. I have been to multiple treatment centers. I continue to relapse presently i have cravings but I have been sober for 1 month. I was in suboxone in past and began abusing benzos. I am not on suboxone presently. I would like to go back on suboxone presently to help with cravings. Would suboxone help?

    1. Hi Andrea. Yes Suboxone can help with the withdrawal symptoms. Still, keep in mind the the safest way to overcome addiction and maintain sobriety is enrolling into a treatment center. Call our hotline to discuss your treatment options.

  2. I was on methadone for 6 years. I’ve been off it for 2 years now. But this past months I’ve been having cravings everyday … what should I do?

    1. Hi David. Congratulations on your sobriety! Cravings are hard to manage, and whether you feel them, you need to prepare for an escape strategy. Do something that you like in order to stop thinking about methadone. Also, you may try practicing meditation and yoga, or enroll into a support group and find a sponsor to call him/her when you are in crisis.

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