Is Methadone the Same as Suboxone?
Suboxone and methadone are both treatment options for opioid addiction, but no, they are not the same. They are different drugs that work differently in many ways to treat addiction. Nevertheless, a person may decide to switch between the two medications at certain times in their life.
Methadone vs. Suboxone
Methadone is a generic drug––its brand names being Dolophine and Methadose––that is also a synthetic opioid agonist. It acts the same way that other opioid agonists, including heroin, morphine, and oxycodone, do, but it has a much longer duration of effects. Therefore, methadone can be taken once daily and treat the symptoms of opioid addiction.
It can also relieve withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, block opioid receptors, and generally allow patients to attend treatment with fewer side effects of stopping their drug abuse. It minimizes the chance of relapse because of this and is well tolerated by many individuals. It can be tapered off slowly to avoid withdrawal or a person can stay maintained on it indefinitely.
Suboxone is a brand name drug containing buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it has agonist and antagonist properties. It works much in the same way that methadone does, providing relief from cravings and withdrawal and being safe for both medically-assisted withdrawal and maintenance––but there are some other differences between the two drugs.
Suboxone is much safer in abuse situations and is abused much less than methadone. This is because buprenorphine, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has a ceiling effect that causes its opioid effects to eventually level off, protecting users from dangerous overdose and other issues. In addition, the naloxone in the drug decreases “the likelihood of diversion and misuse of the combination drug product” by precipitating withdrawal in those who crush and inject the tablets. Though Suboxone is safer from abuse, however, it does not cause effects as strong as those caused by methadone.
Which Medication is Better?
Since these two medications are not the same, many people wonder which they should take or which is better for them. If you are someone who has a mild dependence on and addiction to opioids, Suboxone may be a better choice for your needs. The drug can also be administered in a doctor’s office, which can make it much more convenient than methadone, which can only be dispensed in a clinic.
Methadone, though, is much safer and more beneficial to those who have severe dependencies on opioids. Because there isn’t a ceiling effect on the drug and its optimal doses create more intense effects, those whose dependencies on opioids cause them to experience severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms may want to take methadone.
Anyone can switch between these two medications too if they decide one may be better for them at the time. It is just important to consider all of the aspects of each drug as well as your needs as a patient before you decide to switch.