Methadone versus Suboxone: Which One is Right for Me?
Medication-assisted treatment options for opiate addiction provide much needed support for people recovering from chronic and long-term addiction problems. Methadone and Suboxone exist as two as the most commonly used treatment medications. While both forms of treatment work towards the same overall goal, they go about it in different ways in terms of their effects.
When choosing between methadone versus Suboxone, a person’s current circumstances offer certain key clues as to which medication will work best.
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Medication-assisted treatments specifically address the brain chemical imbalances left behind by chronic opiate abuse, according to the Los Angeles Department of Health. With long-term opiate abuse, the effects of the drug change the brain’s chemical environment in a profound way. These changes account for why opiate addiction carries such a high relapse rate.
With methadone versus Suboxone, both drugs work to stabilize and restore a normal chemical balance in the brain, but they do this in different ways.
Methadone versus Suboxone – Factors to Consider
Detoxing vs. Long-Term Treatment
The detox stage brings on the most severe of withdrawal effects. Once a person completes detox, withdrawal aftereffects can continue for months or even years after stopping drug use. As a general rule, the more severe the addiction the more difficult these two stages will be.
Methadone acts as a full agonist agent, whereas Suboxone is partial a agonist. In effect, full agonist agents exert a stronger effect on the brain’s chemical system than a partial agonist, which can work well for someone recovering from severe opiate addiction.
While methadone and Suboxone can both be used for detoxification and long-term maintenance purposes, methadone works best on both counts when recovering from severe opiate addiction.
Structured vs. Unstructured Treatment Approach
Methadone versus Suboxone treatment differs as far as program requirements go. Methadone treatment requires patients to frequent a clinic facility on a daily basis. Methadone programs also require patients to take part in behavior-based treatments as a condition of receiving daily methadone doses.
With Suboxone treatment, the medication can be administered by authorized physicians on an out-of-office basis. While patients are required to take part in behavior-based treatment, it’s much easier for a person to bypass this requirement.
Behavioral treatments play an essential role in helping a person address the root of the addiction problem while developing essential coping skills for managing daily life pressures and responsibilities on a drug-free basis. According to Semel Institute, someone coming off a long-term addiction problem will likely require the type of structure afforded through a methadone-based treatment approach.
Actively Using vs. Drug-Free
Another factor to consider when choosing methadone versus Suboxone has to do with whether you’re still abusing opiates or not.
Methadone is a synthetic opiate drug, whereas Suboxone contains both an opiate agent known as burpenorphine, and naltrexone, a drug that incites withdrawal effects. The naltrexone component acts as a relapse prevention measure. This means someone who’s still abusing opiates will go into full-blown withdrawal if he of she takes Suboxone, whereas methadone won’t produce this effect.
Under these conditions, both methadone and Suboxone will work well if you’ve already gone through detox. Otherwise, methadone is the way to go for someone who’s still actively using.