Should I Switch to Buprenorphine Treatment?
If you have been on methadone treatment and are wondering whether or not to switch to buprenorphine, it is important to consider all the factors before making a decision. No one medication is right for every individual, and one option may be better for you at a certain point in your treatment than at another. Still, understanding your needs is essential to choosing the right medication for you in your current stage of recovery.
Your Recovery, Your Needs
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Patients can possibly switch from methadone to buprenorphine treatment, but because the two medications are so different, patients may not always be satisfied with the results.” This is why you must consider all your treatment needs and your current stage of recovery, as well as any other pressing matters, before making the switch.
First, ask yourself why you want to move to buprenorphine treatment. Many prefer it because they are able to get their medication from a doctor’s office instead of having to go to a clinic for methadone. They can also visit less frequently, as the doctor is able to write a prescription for buprenorphine and the patient does not have to visit daily for their treatment. If these are the reasons why you are considering the move to buprenorphine, ask yourself several other questions as well:
- Is my recovery currently stable with methadone?
- Have I been free of relapse for a long period of time while on the medication?
- Am I happy with my treatment?
- What is bothering me if I am unhappy?
If your recovery feels stable and you have not relapsed in a long time, you are likely a better candidate to make the switch. If you do not currently feel stable, it is probably best that you discuss your situation with your methadone doctor and perhaps ask to have your prescription dosage changed. If you are unhappy with your treatment, consider why that is, and understand that many other methadone clinics exist where a different doctor can treat you.
The Truth about Switching to Buprenorphine
SAMHSA states, “Studies indicate that buprenorphine is equally as effective as moderate doses of methadone. However, because buprenorphine is unlikely to be as effective as more optimal-dose methadone, it may not be the treatment of choice for patients with high levels of physical dependency.”
Many aspects of buprenorphine treatment can make it desirable, especially to those who have been going to methadone clinics, but the medication itself does not create effects that are as strong as those associated with methadone. Therefore, if you require optimal-dose methadone, you may want to stay with your treatment. If your dosages have gone down and you have still managed to abstain from opioid abuse, buprenorphine might be a sensible choice.
According to the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice, there are “advantages and disadvantages” to each medication. Still, it is important not to endanger yourself, especially if you are currently very dependent on opioids and need a more intensive medication. If you have more questions, call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?). We can help you consider and discover which medication may be more beneficial for you.