Choosing Between Methadone vs Suboxone: How Are They Different?

After so many months or years of opiate abuse, attempts to overcome addiction through traditional drug rehab programs leave hardcore users no better off than they were before. Once the damaging effects of opiate addiction reach a certain point, a person’s recovery success depends as much on ongoing medical treatment as it does standard addiction treatment practices.

Methadone and Suboxone are both medication-based treatments for opiate addiction. For the most part, both medications work towards the same ends in terms of helping addicts abstain from compulsive drug use.

In effect, choosing between methadone vs Suboxone has as much to do with how these drugs differ as it does your own individual treatment needs.

Call our helpline at 800-891-9360 for more information on medication-based treatment programs.

The Purpose of Medication-Based Treatment Approaches

Methadone vs Suboxone

If your addiction is severe, the Suboxone treatment approach may be too flexible to be effective.

Opiate drugs, such as fentanyl, codeine and oxycodone all interact with the brain’s chemical system in similar ways. Whether taking opiates for treatment purposes or using on a recreational basis, the longer a person uses these drugs the more they alter the brain’s chemical environment.

With chronic or long-term opiate use, the brain has undergone considerable change to the point where it can no longer function in the absence of the drug due to the overall damage that’s developed along the way.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, medication-based treatment approaches are designed to support damaged brain chemical activities while restoring a normal chemical balance.

When considering methadone vs Suboxone, these two drugs interact with the brain in different ways, and so produce somewhat different results.

Methadone vs Suboxone – Differences

Full Agonist vs Partial Agonist

Ingredient-wise, methadone is an opiate-based drug, whereas Suboxone contains buprenorphine, an opiate-based ingredient. Suboxone also contains a second ingredient known as Naltrexone.

Methadone acts as a full agonist agent, fully stimulating neurotransmitter-producing cells in the brain. Suboxone acts as a partial agonist, so it only stimulates neurotransmitter activities up to a certain point before its effects start to level off.

Suboxone’s naltrexone ingredient is an antagonist agent, which is designed to bring on withdrawal effects in the event a person tries to abuse Suboxone by snorting or injecting it, according to the Food & Drug Administration. In terms of methadone vs Suboxone, Suboxone’s partial agonist effects carry a lower risk for abuse and addiction compared to methadone’s effects.

Is Methadone the Same as Suboxone?

Highly Structured Approach vs Flexible Treatment Approach

Methadone belongs to the schedule II class of narcotic drugs due to its abuse potential, while Suboxone’s lower abuse potential places it in the schedule III class. Subsequently, methadone is a highly regulated drug, so anyone receiving methadone treatment must abide by series of strict guidelines in terms of dosage administration and ongoing participation in behavioral treatment interventions.

With Suboxone’s lower abuse potential it can be administered by a general physician on an out-of-office basis. Likewise, participation in behavioral treatment is typically more flexible than in a methadone program.

Choosing Between the Two

Ultimately, choosing between methadone vs Suboxone boils down to the severity of your addiction problem. While methadone does carry a higher abuse potential, it’s the best choice for people coming off long-term, chronic opiate addictions.

Methadone’s highly structured treatment approach also works best for people dealing with severe addiction problems due to the degree of psychological dysfunction that chronic opiate abuse leaves behind.

If you need help finding a methadone or Suboxone program, feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 to speak with one of our addiction specialists.