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Subutex vs. Suboxone: Which Is Safer During Pregnancy?

Subutex vs. Suboxone: Which Is Safer During Pregnancy?

Ideally, we would all plan pregnancies for when we were at our healthiest, both mentally and physically. But sometimes life has other plans — many women who are struggling with opioid addiction manage to get pregnant. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s also not one in which you’re doomed, either.

If you get pregnant while you’re taking medications to manage your opioid addiction, you might wonder if you should stop taking them. The short answer is that no, you shouldn’t. But the longer answer is that it might depend on which type of medication you take. The providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center explain more about whether you should take Subutex or Suboxone during your pregnancy.

What the difference is between the two drugs

Opioid addiction is increasing among the general population, and pregnant women are no exception. 

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is now the gold standard in treating opioid addiction. You have a few different options: methadone, Subutex, or Suboxone.

Methadone is a synthetic form of opioid that’s believed to be safer than harder forms such as heroin. You can become addicted to methadone, too; it just won’t give you the same high you once got. However, this drug has been around since the end of World War II, and its use has largely fallen out of favor.

Subutex is the name for buprenorphine, a drug that falls into a category called partial opioid agonists. This means it still presents many of the same risks as harder opioids, but you’re less likely to get high from it. You can become dependent on it, just the same as you can with heroin or opioid pills like hydrocodone (Vicodin®) or oxycodone (Oxycontin®). However, it has a much weaker effect.

Suboxone is buprenorphine plus naloxone. The inclusion of naloxone is designed to prevent the risk of overdose, and it’s the same drug police use to reverse overdoses. While Subutex is possible to abuse, it’s much harder to do so with Suboxone because the naloxone prevents you from getting as high.

Both drugs are designed to reduce cravings and can greatly assist in getting off of harder opioids.

Which one you should use during pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) approves the use of methadone, Subutex, and Suboxone during pregnancy.

One study reported that Suboxone is safer than the alternatives during pregnancy, and no negative outcomes were associated with its use. Infants born to mothers who took Suboxone were much less likely to experience opioid withdrawal symptoms after birth.

However, a lot depends on when you begin your treatment. If you’re already well-established on a particular medication, we may keep you on it (with the approval from your obstetrician, of course). We don’t want to change what’s already working.

But if you’re new to trying to get off heroin, for example, we might start you on Subutex. This drug can be more effective than alternative medications, especially in the early recovery stages.

Making the decision to take medications to keep you off of harder drugs is not something to be taken lightly, and we always encourage you to be honest with your prenatal care provider. But staying off of harder drugs is essential, both for you and for your developing baby. We want to keep every available option open to us, which often includes medications like Subutex and Suboxone. 

If you’re pregnant and addicted to opioids, it’s crucial to get on a treatment plan. Call the providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center, or request an appointment online at one of our many locations throughout Southern Arizona.

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