The Basics of Subutex Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the Subutex rehabilitation process as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from Subutex addiction.

Subutex addiction treatment begins when someone reaches out to a professional for help. Treatment professionals help the individual understand what type of treatment might be appropriate — such as whether they should start with inpatient or outpatient options. In either case, treatment typically starts with orientation to the facility or program and an assessment that lets counselors know where someone is with addiction so an individual treatment plan and goals can be set.

Typically, the person then works through the rehab process. While every person is unique and each program is different, many follow a similar type of road map through rehabilitation. That might start with detoxification, move on to behavioral therapies, and end with discharge planning and aftercare. One of the goals of a treatment program is to set individuals up with appropriate skills and coping mechanisms as well as referrals and suggestions for support systems for long-term recovery.

the four steps of rehab process

What Makes Subutex Rehabilitation Difficult?

Subutex is a Schedule III drug because buprenorphine is. This means that the drug has a recognized medical use but is also commonly abused and has a likelihood of fostering addiction when abused. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, buprenorphine and medications containing it are used illicitly worldwide. People who are most likely to abuse the drug include non-addicted opioid abusers and people who are using the drug as part of a treatment program.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for anyone in Subutex rehabilitation is that their drug of choice is the medication that is otherwise used to help make opioid detox more bearable. For those addicted to opioids such as heroin or prescription pain meds, Subutex offers a slightly easier road to quitting and can even help keep someone from returning to harder drugs in the critical early weeks or months of rehab. Someone seeking treatment for Subutex addiction may not have the same options.

The Unique Struggle of Subutex Addicts
  • is a type of opioid and can cause euphoric effects.
  • is an opioid partial antagonist, which means it can be used in treating opioid addiction.
  • can be addictive.
  • is abused worldwide by people who are not yet addicted to opioids as well as those who are struggling with opioid addiction.
  • may not be a suitable treatment for someone who is addicted to it.

Subutex Rehabilitation Statistics

Subutex and other forms of buprenorphine are being increasingly used to treat opioid addiction in a variety of settings. In fact, the number of U.S. treatment facilities providing buprenorphine increased from just over 1,000 in 2005 to just under 4,000 in 2017. Because of the potential for abuse and the nature of the Schedule III designation, the federal government does limit how much of these drugs each physician can prescribe.

Non-Heroin Opioid Treatment Admissions by Gender

52.7% Male
47.3% Female

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Buprenorphine

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, men are considerably more likely to seek treatment for non-heroin opiate abuse, including Subutex. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for non-heroin opioids was 52.7% male and 47.3% female. While non-heroin opioid addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for non-heroin opioid use was individuals aged 25 to 34, with 35 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who are seeking rehabilitation.

Non-Heroin Opioid Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment Admission Percentage of Non-Heroin Opioid Treatment Admissions
12-17 0.4%
18-24 10.4%
25-34 44.9%
35-44 25.4%
45-54 12.1%
55-64 5.9%
65+ 0.6%

Subutex Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

Recovery from any type of opioid, including Subutex, typically begins with a detox period of a few days to a few weeks. During this time, professionals work with the person being treated to make them as comfortable as possible while their body rids itself of the opioid.

Subutex has a fairly long half-life for an opioid, with an elimination half-life of between 31 and 35 hours. While the effects of Subutex, and subsequently the withdrawal symptoms, may be less fierce than those associated with heroin or other opioids, the time line for primary withdrawal signs might be longer.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Muscle spasms
Runny nose
Excessive sweating
Aches and pains
Stomach issues
Aggression or anger
Problems concentrating
Long-Term Symptoms Fatigue
Stomach issues
Cravings for the drug or opioids in general

Subutex Detoxification Medications

Whether or not someone struggling with a Subutex addiction is offered detox medications depends in part on the type of facility they enter and the methods of their treatment provider. Some providers prefer to adopt an abstinence approach, especially when a person has already moved from one drug to another in the addiction cycle. Others may be willing to try treatments with other drugs, such as Suboxone, or attempt to taper of Subutex use in a supervised setting.

Suboxone is another FDA-approved drug for treating opioid addiction. It also contains buprenorphine that can be prescribed in smaller and smaller doses to help someone wean off opioids. However, Suboxone contains naloxone, which mitigates the effects of opioids to keep someone from abusing more drugs to get the high they seek.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Subutex Addiction.

Treatment for Subutex Addiction

For the most part, Subutex addiction is typically treated with behavioral remedies. Behavioral treatments, including various types of therapy, can be administered in inpatient, residential, or outpatient settings.

Depending on someone’s needs and goals for recovery, they might begin in a program where they stay 24 hours per day (inpatient or residential). Alternatively, someone might start rehab in a partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient program that requires attendance for a few hours several days a week.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Subutex Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-12 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-4 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Support Groups Self-help groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Behavioral and Medication-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Subutex Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Further reading:

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a popular approach to treating a range of mental and behavioral health issues, including addiction. CBT is based on the premise that the way someone thinks, feels, and reacts are all related, and the way they’re related is learned.

Therapists help individuals get to the root causes of their behaviors (drug use) so they can find ways to replace those negative thoughts and behaviors with new coping skills that affirm and support sobriety.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Further reading:

Motivational enhancement therapy, or MET, is another form of talk therapy. The purpose of MET is to help the person become more active in his or her treatment by recognizing the positive aspects of sobriety and being more personally motivated to achieve it.

MET may be combined with other forms of therapy or even used as a jump-start approach to a phase of recovery.

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

Further reading:

12-step facilitation therapy is typically used in abstinence programs. These programs rely on therapies and other wellness approaches and eschew the use of medications for addiction treatment.

Treatment based on a 12-step program might be an option for some people who are dealing with a Subutex addiction, especially if they became addicted while in treatment for addiction to other opioids.

How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Subutex Addiction

When looking for a rehab center for Subutex addiction, it’s a good idea to find one with professionals who are experienced in dealing with this specific addiction. Often when you search for Subutex rehab, you find a list of facilities that are adept at treating opioid addictions with the medication. Before you commit to a facility or treatment provider, explain that you are addicted to Subutex and ask if their counselors are familiar with treating that issue.

Rehab centers that combine an option such as cognitive behavioral therapy with 12-step facilitation and support might be one option to consider. It’s also typically important to ensure that you enter a program that has the resources to offer aftercare or recommend suitable options for you when you’re ready to step down into a lower level of recovery.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.