I Am Currently Taking Methadone, But I Want to Switch to Buprenorphine – Is it Safe?
Methadone is an effective and widely used form of medication in mitigating opioid withdrawal symptoms and making the process of detoxification much less uncomfortable. However, methadone is itself an opioid agonist, meaning that you can get heavily addicted to it and suffer withdrawal symptoms which can be counterproductive to your long-term recovery goals.
Another option is buprenorphine. Similar to methadone, buprenorphine will activate your opioid receptors and help you deal with severe pain and other withdrawal symptoms. Although they are used for similar reasons, these two drugs have a lot of differences and their success for your individual situation will vary depending on a variety of factors.
Benefits of Buprenorphine over Methadone
- It’s a partial opioid agonist, not a full opioid agonist. This means that it results in less physical dependence and a lower potential for misuse or addiction than methadone and other opioids.
- The profile for withdrawal is relatively mild compared with methadone. This is due to a ceiling effect that occurs after a certain dosage level, resulting in a stability in withdrawal symptoms even if the dosage is increased.
- Your likelihood of relapse can be reduced with the use of buprenorphine due to the reduction in cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, methadone is more effective for heavy addicts.
- Methadone will likely require you to visit a clinic on a daily basis, while buprenorphine usually only requires monthly visits.
- The risk of a fatal overdose is lower for buprenorphine than for methadone.
Is Buprenorphine Safe?
You might be wondering why buprenorphine isn’t more popular based on all of its benefits over methadone. Studies have shown that some people prefer methadone for its lower cost and “head-nodding” effects that are lacking in buprenorphine. Additionally, buprenorphine can still be addictive, despite the withdrawal symptoms being less intense.
Back to the original question – is buprenorphine safe? It can be, if it’s what works for you.
In general, buprenorphine has been shown to be safe, as far as opioids and partial opioids go. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if you should go to buprenorphine treatments for your symptoms:
- What is your level of addiction and sensitivity to withdrawal symptoms?
- Do you want a medication that will quickly take away your urge to get high or one that will slowly lower your urges?
- Do you still have opioids in your system? This can impact the way different medications cause your body to respond.
- What is your support network? If you have a strong line of support, this can affect your likelihood of relapse and therefore which type of medication you should take.
Ultimately, the final decision of whether or not you should switch from methadone to buprenorphine will depend on your individual needs and the way your body responds and reacts to different types of treatments. The best way to know for sure if you should switch to buprenorphine is to talk to your doctor.
However, if you have more questions about the differences between methadone and buprenorphine, call us at 800-891-9360 and we’ll provide you with accurate and up-to-date information and resources.