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Subutex Warnings and Precautions

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Subutex

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using this opioid medicine include the following:
  • Subutex can cause potentially life-threatening slow and irregular breathing (called "respiratory depression"). Certain people have an increased risk for respiratory depression with Subutex, including older adults, people who already have breathing problems, and people who are taking certain other medications. Signs of respiratory depression include:
    • Extreme drowsiness
    • Unresponsiveness
    • Infrequent, deep sighing breaths
    • Unusual snoring.
  • Subutex is a narcotic medication with a significant potential for abuse. Do not use the drug more frequently or at a higher dose than prescribed. If you feel you may be developing a problem with Subutex abuse, please seek help from a healthcare provider.
  • There have been reports of liver damage in people using Subutex. To monitor for this problem, your healthcare provider should check your liver enzymes using a simple, standard blood test before you start this medication and periodically thereafter.
  • This medication can cause problems in people with head injuries or high intracranial pressure. It should only be used with extreme caution in such circumstances.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Subutex affects you, as this drug can make you drowsy. Your reflexes and reaction times may be significantly affected, even if you feel fine.
  • This medication should be used with caution in people with low blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease, gallbladder problems, or pancreatic disease. Check with your healthcare provider before taking the drug if you have any of these conditions.
  • Do not drink alcohol while using this medication. Consuming alcohol with Subutex could increase your risk for serious side effects, including extreme drowsiness, confusion, memory loss, or difficulty breathing.


  • Subutex passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to using the drug (see Subutex and Breastfeeding).
  • Subutex is a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown (see Subutex and Pregnancy).
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