Dangers of Going from Methadone to Suboxone
Both methadone and Suboxone are good tools for helping with an addiction to opioids.
You can only be on one of these drugs at the same time. However, for whatever reason, your doctor may decide to switch you from methadone to Suboxone.
While this is usually a safe process, it can have some dangerous side effects to keep an eye out for.
Why Would Someone Want to Switch From Methadone to Suboxone?
Easier to Take Doses
Methadone is a potent drug. While this is great for stopping illicit drug use, it can be a problem if a person tries to abuse the drug. Therefore, it is only dispensed at a clinic, meaning that patients must make an outing there on a daily basis just to get their prescribed dose.
For some, this may be inconvenient. Since Suboxone is less potent, it can be prescribed by a doctor and taken at home. This eliminates the daily trip to the clinic and makes it a much more convenient option that methadone.
Benefits for Pregnant Women
When women who are taking methadone get pregnant, they have to start considering the health of their children. While methadone doesn’t cause a fetus any terrible side effects, it can cause them to develop neonatal abstinence syndrome after they are born.
Suboxone, on the other hand, has proven to be much safer for babies. Therefore, a doctor might recommend switching a mother to Suboxone if she is trying to become pregnant.
Dangerous Effects of Switching Medications
Not as Effective
While Suboxone is about as effective as moderate doses of methadone, it’s not quite as effective as optimal-dose methadone. This means that you not get the protection you need if you’re a severe addict.
You might be able to slip back into your old opiate habit before you become used to the new Suboxone dose, sending you back into a downward spiral.
Might Not Get the Dose Right
While your doctor is an expert at knowing how much medication to give their patients, they might not be able to get the exact dose right the first time. If you are prescribed too much or too little Suboxone, you could be at risk for experiencing spontaneous withdrawal or precipitated withdrawal.
Puts You at Risk for Relapse
Regardless of if you get the right dose or not, you’ll probably still have to go through a period of precipitated withdrawal. To initiate this, your doctor will try to taper down your methadone dose to 30 mg. Then, they will make you wait somewhere between 36 and 96 hours before starting your new Suboxone prescription.
As a final check before beginning Suboxone, they will wait until your score on the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale is somewhere between 5 to 15.
This ensures that the methadone is out of your system and you are ready for Suboxone treatment. However, it also means that you will be susceptible to your old opiate habits. If you would decide to try taking your old drugs, they would absolutely be effective and cause you to get high.
Even this one small slip-up could send you back into addiction.
While switching from methadone to Suboxone sounds scary, chances are that your doctor has a good reason for wanting you to switch. As long as you can follow their directions and dosage, you should be completely fine during and after the transition.