How Suboxone and Subutex Can Help Chronic Pain

Anyone who suffers from chronic pain knows how difficult it is to lead a normal life. Chronic pain is not only physically debilitating, but can also become psychologically and emotionally debilitating as well. Your ability to perform your job and day-to-day tasks is challenged and your personal relationships often suffer because of the mental and emotional toll your chronic pain takes on you.

One of the most widely used methods of chronic pain management is through the use opioid medications. Opioids such as Vicodin, morphine, codeine and other related painkillers are very effective at controlling and eliminating pain and, if taken properly, are very safe. There are risks to using opioid painkillers for long-term management of pain, however. Even if taken properly, long-term use of opioid painkillers can lead to dependency, abuse and addiction. These risk factors are even greater for patients with a history of addiction.

Chronic pain sufferers who have a history of substance abuse have few choices when it comes to medication-based pain management. Recently, however, the FDA-approved drug buprenorphine has been used with some success. Buprenorphine comes in two forms: Subutex, which is composed of only buprenorphine, and Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Subutex and Suboxone are methadone-like medications that allow patients to detoxify from opiates without becoming ill with withdrawal symptoms. They are also used in the long-term maintenance of opioid dependency. Unlike methadone, however, Subutex and Suboxone are less addictive and easier to come off of.

Because Subutex and Suboxone are partial opiates that work to block pain receptors, they can be an attractive option for long-term chronic pain management. Compared to opioid painkillers, long-term use Subutex and Suboxone has a lower risk of physical dependency and milder withdrawal symptoms when usage ends. Even with these benefits, there are some risks to using Subutex and Suboxone, and both should only be taken under the supervision of a trained medical professional. Overdosing or taking Suboxone with alcohol, sedatives or CNS depressants can lead to severe complications that include disability and death.

Using Subutex and Suboxone has its advantages, but using them alone is not an effective treatment for chronic pain and/or opioid addiction. Managing chronic pain should include more than just medication; it should also include non-medication based treatments to address the psychological and emotional components of chronic pain. On the same note, the only way to effectively treat opiate addiction is to use Subutex and Suboxone as part of a comprehensive program that includes addiction education, counseling and behavioral therapy.

If you’re suffering from chronic pain and have a history of substance abuse, find an addiction treatment program that offers a chronic pain management program. These types of programs will give you the tools you need to manage your chronic pain and overcome your addiction to prescription painkillers.

Don’t let chronic pain define who you are any longer. Get the help you need and deserve through a pain management program that specializes in patients with substance abuse problems.

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28 Responses to “How Suboxone and Subutex Can Help Chronic Pain”

  1. Thomas Martin

    many back surgeries and with failed back syndrome, stenosis, spondolitis, ect. over 6 years now.. Neurologisists report pain will likley remain permanent with poss. additional surgery. my quality of life is becomming deminished by pain most times

    Reply
  2. Mary baughman

    I have been on norco along with many other narcotic pain medications for almost 4 yrs. I kept running out to fast and got so sick from the withdrawl these medicines would make you go through. So I talked to my dr and he suggested suboxene. Ive been on it for two wks now and im doing great! I really like this medicine. Also I havent felt a need to take more, so the suboxenes really working for my chronic pain. Thank god this medicine is available and I recommend this med for anyone looking to get off pain killers.

    Reply
  3. Brenda Oleary

    Your article gave me hope to get off the morphine I’ve been on for so long. But then my insurance told me they don’t cover suboxone because they don’t cover addictions. Is there any hope this will be approved by the FDA for pain control. I do have a history of addiction and I am looking for an opiate alternative but I am allergic to NSAIDS. My chronic pain comes from severe OA.

    Reply
  4. steven love

    I have been prescribed suboxone for the last 3 yrs. I was addicted to painkillers. The med helps with pain but I am led to believe that it is not the answer long term for pain as I also have had severe sciatic nerve problems. The issue is that the longer you take it the higher your tolerance to it becomes, and the lower your tolerance to pain becomes. So over time even though the short term benefit to it is substantial. Long term it is just another addiction though controlled. I am talking about a taper now to come off with the doctor. It is a tool to get from point a to point b and should be used for this purpose only in my opinion. A tool that has saved my marriage my job and my sense of self. It is very bittersweet to say the least.

    Reply
  5. Kimberly Johnson

    Hello, my name is Kim and I just wanted to comment on the use of Suboxone for pain management. I’ve been taken this medication now for about 5& 1/2 years for cronic neck,showlder,and upper back pain which stems from an accident I had when I was 27.I got addicted to oppiods over time and went through rehabs. It wasen’t until 2007 when I finnally got the help I needed. Saboxone saved my life. Allot of my pain is severe nerve pain stemming from my spinal cord and herniated discs includind a bone spur that’s into my cord space. If it were not for the miricle of Suboxone I may not be here living a happy life :)

    Reply
  6. richard

    Hi Im going to be taking subox in three days for chronic pain. Wonderinh what first day is like?

    Reply
  7. cindy barrett

    ive been on suboxone since2009 im a addict. i tok 30 vicion and 30 somas a day. this progressed since my back surgury in 1999. for a while it helped now i keep relapsing suboxtone is not working anymore

    Reply
  8. Darrell

    I have five herniated disc in the my lower back from accidents in construction work. I lost my insurance about five years ago after no longer being able to work. When I lost my insurance my doctor referred me to a pain management facility. I was put on hydracodone for the pain and ambien for sleep. The social stigma is almost more than I can stand. Twice I have quit taking pain medication and after about two months I begin to think about suicide. It is not worth living in constant bad pain. Now many pain management facilities have closed. Others will not see you and unless you have insurance. I can’t work with the pain so I can’t afford the insurance .. my son told me about subaoxen. I bought it from someone, I don’t have the money for the doctor. I took 1/2 of a sublingual strip after waiting 24 hours after taking my last pain pill. I had no withdrawal from the pain medication. Today is day three and still no withdrawal symptoms and I hurt less while taking the suboxone than I have in years. I don’t plan on continuing to take it but at least it is helping me through withdrawal from hydrocodone.

    Reply
  9. jewel

    I was in a horribla accident. Herniated discs.bulged discs.in neck and back. Nerve damage in leg and shoulder as well but i refused to stay on opiates for my whole life without trying to do without and use other methods of pain relief. My doc referred me to using suboxone since i do have a high pain level. So i just took my first one. I hope i get great results like the most of u. But fear my pain is too severe. But u will never know until you try.and everyone is going to have a diff reaction. Keep sharing. This blog helped me.

    Reply
  10. William Francis

    I have been perscribed Suboxone for 3 years and 4 months and have been taking it as perscribed since then and it was been effective and benifical in every aspect of my life. I was diagnoised with Pinched nerves in my C2 and C4 which causes me a tremendous amount of pain. While taking my prescribed doses it has eliminated all my effects of the pinched nerve in itself. Also i need to mention it is vital to take this medication as perscribed and with the sole intent to treat the pain and manage ur pain as well. Thanks have great day.

    Reply
  11. mario Leyva

    I was prescribed suboxone from my dr like a year ago!, I have three broken screw’s and every cage that they put in between all of my disc are collapsed so I have severe agonizing chronic pain!!, and all it did for me was give me severe debilitating headache’s and made me nauseous and vomite!!!!, but I am not saying that it is going to do the same to who ever is going to take it or that is being prescribed it by there dr., because medicine effects everybody different!!, but just be careful because it messed me up!!!!, and what hurt the worst was when I was throwing up because it was making me jerk my head and neck!!!!!!, awe man just talking about it is kinda making me hurt a little!!, but I have to say that it was not pleasant not at “ALL”!!!, I am not trying to scare anyone but I do want people to know that it does have side effects and they are not fun!!!, so just be careful!!!.

    Signed, NO MORE PAIN!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  12. Becky

    I have had pain for 5 years. 3 of those years on Lortab, and the other three on SUBOXONE.

    I LOVE SUBOXONE!!! I would never take any other pain med again!

    I also get a procedure done once a year…they go into the spinal canal(while your awake), and they cauterize all the nerves near the area of pain. After my First procedure, my sciatic pain slowly went away. It’s been gone ever since.

    I can Jog now, lift weights, play with my kids!!!

    SUBOXONE has given me my life back!!! I encourage everyone, everywhere, that is suffering in pain to try it and see if it works for you!!! And if for some reason it doesn’t work, DO NOT settle with what you have, keep searching! One day you’ll find what works for you!!

    God Bless You!

    Reply
  13. Katie- Idaho Falls

    I LOVE SUBUTEX! This medication is an absolute miracle to me! I have struggled from opiat addiction for years now! Every part of me wanted to stop taking them but my mind. I thought detox was going to be the hardest part of quitting. I checked myself into a detox facility and went through the misery of coming down. After just days of being clean the thought of the horrific detox wasnnt enough to keep me clean. Staying clean is just as hard if not harder then actually coming down. I fianlly gave soxutex a try. It has done wonders for me. It completly takes away the craving of wanting to use. It basically feels as if my addiction switch in my head as finally been flipped off. You dont need it the second you wake up it the morning because the doses last such a long time. I am more clear headed then I have been since I can even remember, I am motivated to get the things done I need to in a day without the distraction of getting high or even thoinking about getting high! I am 100% satified with this medication and will never use opiates again! Please take my advice and give it a try! ITS WORTH IT AND SO ARE YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES!

    Reply
  14. Dee

    I have chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, post heretic neuralgia from the shingles, spondylitis , stenosis, and need neck surgery on disc 3-4, cervical radiculopothy,

    Reply
  15. eric

    I have many chronic pain problems like crohn’s disease and got bit by a copperhead and it caused a lot of nerve damged and a got a bad back and nerve damged in my legs and a lot of other stuff I need help!!! and I have took Lortad it didn’t help I hear that SUBUTEX could help please help me !! thanks

    Reply
  16. NATALIE

    I had stage 3b cancer , no matter what pain med. the dr put me on I could not even get out of bed. I started taking subutex and it gave my life back , my small kids there mom and my husband his wife . I MAY not have long on earth but Subutex made it where not in bed .GOD BLESS

    Reply
  17. carolyn dearen

    i suffer very severe low back pain, due to degenerative disc disease, after a fall i had about 10 years ago. until now, i have declined to take any narcotic meds, but the pain is so bad, i am rethinking that decision. could soboxone help this kind of pain?

    Reply
  18. william

    blah. I cant get any pain relief and am at a loss of what to do. It does however help with withdrawal symptoms.

    Reply
  19. Sindee

    Hi Carolyn,
    I am not a Doctor, so check with your PA. But, I can tell you that I took Oxycontin and oxycodone (full opioid agonists) for 6 years due to ruptured-herniated lower back disks, sciatica, and SI Joint Syndrome. I wish I knew about Subutex and Suboxone before stating them. I was up to 420 mg (or more) of oxycodone 1 year ago b/c of tolerance!!! Not kidding. (probably under-exaggerating) This is b/c the brain makes more “pain receptors” if the receptors are always filled with pain meds-blockers, so then you have to take more to fill the extra ones. Etc., etc., etc. Until you reach the point where you abuse them or get really scared of the level of meds you are taking. (like me) I have hopefully been off of full opioid agonists long enough to where the receptors have decreased in qty and my brain has started re-making my own endorphins again. If so, I will be ready to try Suboxone or Subutex.
    They are PARTIAL Opioid agonists, so they do help pain, but only up to a certain level. Full opioids may give someone a big spike in pain relief, but then drop way down and have to be repeated. With Suboxone, it goes up, let’s say halfway, and stays at that level for a much, much longer time. The half-life (I think) is 30 hours). With full poioids, you can take a lot and get more pain relief, and for some, get higher and “doped up”. With Suboxone, you can only go so high before you cannot get more pain relief or get higher. I feel this is probably a better drug for most people to start out with because of all these properties.
    As good as this sounds, if you are currently taking full opoids, (Vicoden, hydro, oxys) and you take Suboxone or Subutex with going into at least mild-moderate withdrawal first, you will be plunged into full withdrawal. This is because although Suboxone and Subutex are only “partial opioid agonists, the have a stronger binding affinity (attraction0 to the receptor, and will knock the other full pain meds right off in order to get onto those receptors. Suboxone is much worse because it has Naloxalone (sp? CasaPalma?) in it and that med is used to reverse an opioid overdose and will knock off all the opioid meds from the receptors within minutes–BIG and FAST withdrawal.
    Those who need to get off opioids, especially when dealing with pain issues, would be wise to call this facility and ask about their program. Since this is a “comment posting”, take my wisdom as such–from someone whom you do know and don’t know if I know anything about this. Call your PC Doctor first if pain is the only issue.
    TRY NOT to start with full opioid narcotics. Even Vicodin. It will lead you down a path you don’t want to go. Even if it works at first, you will need more and more, until you are afraid you will wake up dead like heath ledger or Whitney Houston. I have been in SEVERE pain for over a year with only Aleve and had to cut back on that and take Prilosec OTC, as it caused a stomach ulcer. I can do nothing with my 10 yr old son, and like Casa Palmera says, the lack of ability to do anything has caused extreme psychological and emotional disturbance in my supposed “life” or lack thereof. I’ll let you know if Suboxone-Subutex gives me any relief and life back. Good luck!

    Reply
  20. Katie Haanen

    I have been using Suboxone for over a year now. With generative disc disease, failed treatments an surgery not an option. I refuse to take narcotics because several years ago I took large doses of Methadone for chronic migraines, lived life in a fog, developed sleep apnea and was extremely difficult to detox from. I have had friends who are dependent on narcotics and watched them go to any lengths to get more because they take 2-3 times their prescribed dose. (I say “had” because they both stole from me to feed their dependency).
    My problem now is that my Doctor sent me a letter in the MAIL saying he no longer prescribes it to any of his patients and that I should find another Doctor. No recommendations, NOTHING. I have gone through my family Dr. for assistance and because I DO NOT HAVE AN OPIOID DEPENDENCY…NO ONE WILL PRESCRIBE IT!!! I have tried every other medication and Suboxone has worked the best. Better that any amount of narcotics.
    So, I am at my wits end. It is almost as though they are telling me “Well, become addicted, go through treatment and then we will prescribe it to you.” Ummmm…I kinda wanted to avoid the addiction/dependency part. So now what?

    Reply
  21. Jeff

    My list of inflictions that cause pain is long; MS, 4 back surgeries, and cancer to name a few.
    I spent over five years completely dependent on opiates for my pain management. I was up to 300mgs of Oxy a day, and during regular hospital visits was on massive I doses.
    My pain management clinic was shut down by the FDA. My regular docs would not prescribe the amount of meds I needed for my pain, and withdrawals only added to my misery. I ended up at a methadone clinic on 180 mgs (huge amount).
    After three years of being a methadone zombie with my little black box, a dr. friend of mine was licensed for Suboxone. I was just looking to be free of the dependency, deal with the pain, and do a re-set.
    I think I went into the Suboxone treatment with a positive attitude, and I’m happy to say its done a nice job controlling my pain.
    I’m at the point that I am on a 2 mg. maintenance dose. When my pain hits a certain level, I’ll take 4 mgs. I may take as many as three 4 mg. doses a day, until the very sever pain subsides. When the pain subsides I begin to tapper back to my 2 mgs. I can usually do that in a week or so.

    Here’s the only challenge. If you are like me, I would have pain, take an opiate, like Oxy, or Vicodin, etc. within a half hour the pain begins to subside and we fell the euphoria of the opiate. I hear a lot of people who swear Suboxone does not work for pain. I think most people feel that way, because they have merged the pain relief and euphoria together as one phenomenon.
    There is no doubt that for pure pain relief the traditional opiates do a better and quicker job for short tern severe pain. If you’re like me, the dependency becomes as big, or bigger an issue than the pain itself.
    I will never be pain free, and I will always need to take meds to help control the pain, but my life has been so much better since I began using Suboxone, to first overcome the dependency, and second to control my pain.
    If you have chronic pain, dependency issues, an open mind, and access to a doctor licensed to prescribe Suboxone, than give it a try.

    Reply
  22. alicaconawayrccdykl

    I do not know whether it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with your site. It seems like some of the text on your posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too? This may be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Appreciate it

    Reply
  23. Jenny

    Be careful. It’s a great medication for pain control but once you go on it, you will eventually be pulled off without notice. I was taking it for pain because I was told it would be easier to come off because I had worries about being addicted to pain Meds I was receiving. Surprise!!! They do not warn you if you go on this medication you can and will be pulled off and then you will never be allowed to take another narcotic as long as you live. They do not tell you that. And when they do that, you have no warning until your pharmacy cannot fill your script. I was told My insurance refused to pay for this and was in complete shock. Cold turkey, unable to ever take a narcotic and sentenced to live in severe pain. Besides severe depression, severe pain the only choice is to not exist as I barely was as it was because you cannot be raised on this medication. I didn’t abuse my Meds and I warn you its better to have some relief than nothing and be branded as an addict because of this medication. On top of that, you have to pay a doctor a hundred dollar copayment, that began a year after being in it. It destroys your teeth, my urine smells awful and I have never been tested or given a physical because addicts taking this, you will be labeled get dirty looks, you are a waste of breath. Save yourself and refuse it. If you have chronic pain you will be taken off and you will be as surprised as me and it may turn life into a world of pain. I barely leave my home and these people let you know you are less than dog crap.

    Reply
  24. Graham

    I also had taken methadone 40mgs (20 mg every 12 hours) and opana 10mg IR x 4 a day, I also have taken every other opiate made for severe chronic pain from several surgeries and need both hips replaced at 42. I agree that opiates no matter how helpful will produce dependance physically in 100% of people, it is the mental dependance that causes behavior problems. My point is that I was on about 800-850 mgs of oxycodone for about 2-3 years then put on duragesic patches and losenges and was very dependant. I finally detoxed down to almost no methadone and used percocet 10mg to her down to 5mgs of methadone before going to suboxone. I think the medicine is very very good for dependance of opiates and also. Helps very well for severe chronic pain. At about 10-16 mgs once I dropped below 8mgs daily I lost a lot of the pain Mngt ability. However it is true you must go to a dr. And say you are an addict or you will not be prescribed it. Which is nonsense. The drug works for chronic pain and is safer than methadone and much safer than all the other full agonist pain Meds. Why the DEA and FDA do not team up to allow Dr’s to have this option to give for pain for opiate dependant (non-naive) patients is just kind of insanity. The drug is a class 3 and provides better safer and less amount needed than any class 2 narcotic. One last thing I want to say is many people find headaches with suboxone ( for some reason the naloxone) that is mixed with it to deter IV abuse ( which is said to not be activated if taken orally) causes some patients to get migraine style headaches. I had this happen so dr. Switched me to subutex generic which has no naloxone, and the headaches went away. The medication is working for 2 years now and as I said I has to say I am addict to stay on maintenance but it allows me to work and have a life with my fiance and the prospect of having children. So my life is quality again. I hope so much that the DEA and FDA will pass amendments to DATA 2000 to allow for chronic pain administration. They would stop much of their big to do about oxycodone prescribing that they are so over board now on eradicating. Allthey have done from what I see and hear is made many drug dealers wealthy. Unfortunately I think it is all true. Hopefully they will at least allow this for pain patients without causing all the hassles for prescribers.
    My experience has been all good to subutex. I hope all of you have same effect from it and find a quality life again.

    Reply
  25. Nichole

    I’ve never posted any information as to which medications I take but after reading the last two comments I changed my mind…Ive been taking buprenorphine alone for the past year without complications arising regarding a “time limit” or having to tell my doctor that I’m am addict. In fact, my doctor has to specify that it is for pain for the pharmacy to be able to fill it because even though he is certified to write

    Reply
  26. Robin

    I have done much research on sub and pain treatment and discovered that the US is the only country that uses it for rehab. It was designed for pain management and is prescribed as such everywhere but in the US. It is my opinion that our gov is addicted to their “war on drugs” and refuse to make a real solution available to everyone. 80% of the prescription abuse problem would vanish and they would lose money. Nothing takes the pain away completely but at least w subtex my life is stable, my pain is controlled and I no longer have a “dirty little secret” and feel ashamed if myself for not being able to take low doses of powerful meds. Opiads are designed to be adjective, it’s the nature if the drug. The dose has to be increase at least every 6 months to provide the same level of pain relief. I have been on every pain medication available for 12 years and got booted out of PM due to an arrest in a case that’s was dropped as it was proven that a person in my car set me up. I had the same prob w oxy and opana and all the others… My dose went higher and higher and I was never stable anymore. After ab 6 months w no meds and dying slowly on my couch a friend brought me subtex. I wish I had been put on it first. It has saved my life. To jenny, who got suddenly dropped off, your dr sucks and you need to find a compassionate PM. I hope you have been taken care if. Thanks for listening.

    Reply
  27. Becky

    Robin, you nailed it. Great post. I plan to get on Suboxone and, like you stated, “end my little dirty ashamed secret”!

    Reply

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