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Zubsolv vs Suboxone: Which is Better for Treating Opiate Addiction?

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

January 23, 2019

Zubsolv and Suboxone are both partial opioids used in the treatment of opioid addiction. While they are both used in very similar situations, these medications each carry their own risks and side effects. It is important to understand the differences between these drugs and the effects they could have on an individual.

Zubsolv and Suboxone are forms of Buprenorphine/Naloxone and are used in Medication-Assisted Therapy treatment of opiate addictions. Zubsolv has a greater bioavailability than Suboxone, and therefore patients need a smaller dose of Zubsolv to get the same effects that Suboxone will offer. Each drug can lead to a dangerous outcome when paired with other drugs and alcohol—so it’s important to follow strict orders from a doctor. Buprenorphine offers a safe and effective treatment against the withdrawals and cravings of opiates.

Have you ever had a cold that lasts for weeks, and finally you have no choice but to take medicine? Without that medicine you probably wouldn’t have kicked the cold, right? Like a cold, opiate addictions are frequently difficult to treat with willpower alone, and sometimes a medical intervention is necessary to stay clean. While a person is quitting an opioid, they can experience very serious withdrawals, anxiety, panic, and tremendous pain. Sometimes a person with an opiate addiction will be drawn back into using, because the withdrawals are so intense—this is where partial opioids like Suboxone and Zubsolv can help.

The Definition of Addiction

Sometimes it’s hard to face addiction head-on without a helping hand, and even after a person wants to stop using a drug, they’ll often find out that they can’t stop alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “addiction is…a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.”

What Is An Opiate Addiction?

Opiate addiction can be a dangerous situation, both mentally and physically—because with an addiction, a person will go to great lengths (sometimes endangering themselves or others) to get their drug of choice. All the while they might not realize how much of the drug they are actually using. Medication-assisted therapies can be extremely helpful for a person suffering from opiate addiction.

Opiate addiction can occur with a variety of different drugs—whether illicit drugs like heroin or opium, highly effective medicines like morphine, or other prescription drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Opioids also include:

  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone (Percocet or Oxycontin)

What often happens when a person is prescribed an opioid for pain is that their body is no longer able to deal with the pain naturally. In most cases, the nerve cells in the brain grow accustomed to having opiates around. When you stop taking them, it can often lead to uncomfortable feelings known as withdrawals.

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Most Common Withdrawal Symptoms From Opioids

When a person decides to quit using a drug, actually stopping can prove to be more difficult than a simple resolution, usually painful withdrawals will occur. It’s common for a person suffering from an opiate addiction to have a hard time avoiding opioid use on their own, so a medication-assisted therapy can sometimes be the best approach to staying clean.

According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, the symptoms related to opioid withdrawals are:

Early symptoms of withdrawal:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Late symptoms of withdrawal:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

What Is Medication-Assisted Therapy For Treatment Of Opiate Addiction?

Medication-assisted therapy gives an individual in recovery an opportunity to slowly wean off of a drug. It’s defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association as, “the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for the treatment of substance use disorders. A combination of medication and behavioral therapies is effective in the treatment of substance use disorders, and can help some people to sustain recovery.”

Buprenorphine For Medication-Assisted Therapy

In many cases, with an opioid addiction, the most commonly used medications for treatment are buprenorphine such as Zubsolv and Suboxone, or Methadone. Both Zubsolv and Suboxone can be prescribed by a licensed physician to be taken in increments, whereas methadone is typically only issued in a highly structured clinic. “Buprenorphine offers several benefits to those with opioid dependency and to others for whom treatment in a methadone clinic is not preferred or is less convenient” (SAMHSA).

What Is The Difference Between Zubsolv And Suboxone?

Zubsolv and Suboxone are pretty similar both 80 percent buprenorphine and 20 percent naloxone, partial agonist opiates, but the first noticeable difference is how much they cost. A 30-day supply of Suboxone costs anywhere between $130 and $470, whereas the same supply of Zubsolv can cost anywhere between $350 and $700.

The taste of each medication is the next big difference—Suboxone has a citrus orange flavor, and Zubsolv tastes like mint. Most patients prefer one flavor or the other, but the cost can be the real deciding factor. They come in different pill forms as well; Suboxone is administered as a film tablet, whereas Zubsolv is taken as a sublingual tablet.

What Is The Bioavailability Of Zubsolv And Suboxone?

Though there are a few similarities to Zubsolv and Suboxone—each drug will lower the craving for opiates, and the symptoms of dependency such as withdrawal; but because of the bioavailability of Zubsolv (or amount it can be used by the body), the drug is administered in smaller amounts.

A Zubsolv 5.7/1.1 milligram (buprenorphine/naloxone) tablet will give the body just as much buprenorphine/naloxone as a Suboxone 8/2 milligram film tablet. In other words, it takes a smaller dose of Zubsolv to get the same effect as a dose of Suboxone…

How Does Each Drug Work?

When using either Zubsolv or Suboxone, “it sets in motion a chain of nerve cell activities that underlies most of the familiar opioid effects, for example, pain reduction, feelings of well-being or pleasure, and respiratory suppression. By stimulating the receptor only partially, buprenorphine yields those same effects, but with less intensity than heroin, morphine, or methadone, all of which stimulate the receptor fully” (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

How Can I Get Zubsolv Or Suboxone?

Those who wish to be put onto a buprenorphine regimen like Zubsolv or Suboxone, (or switch from Suboxone to Zubsolv), must first take part in an exam by a licensed physician to ensure that the drugs are safe for their use. Because of the opioid ingredient in buprenorphine, each of the drugs can be misused. Buprenorphine can also have side effects similar to opioids—so nausea, cravings, muscle cramps, insomnia, and irritability can occur when taking Suboxone and Zubsolv.

Each drug must be prescribed by a professional, and it’s not advised to take buprenorphine without a prescription.

Is Zubsolv Or Suboxone Dangerous?

Drinking alcohol, or taking any other drugs while on Suboxone and Zubsolv can be highly dangerous and can lead to overdose or death… The main point to look at here is that buprenorphine keeps people safe from dangerous opioid addictions like heroin.

They are sometimes considered to be the lesser of two evils, and both Zubsolv and Suboxone are safer alternatives to an addiction to heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, or codeine—especially with another drug rehab treatment. Medication-assisted therapies, to be fully effective, are meant to be paired with cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy.

Finding Help For An Opiate Addiction

If you are suffering from an addiction to opiates, you’re not alone… There are approximately 26.4 – 36 million people who abuse opioids worldwide—and many never live to see treatment. Contact Us today to learn more about addiction treatment, and ask if Zubsolv or Suboxone is right for you. Together we can fight opiate addiction…

National Institute on Drug Abuse - The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics

U.S. National Library of Medicine - Practical Considerations for the Clinical Use of Buprenorphine

SAMHSA - Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

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