What’s the Difference between Suboxone and Methadone?

There are two popular opiate detoxification medications. While they both are effective for treating opiate/opioid dependence, they do have differences in the way that they act, their side effects, and their abuse potential. When you are considering an opiate detoxification, you need to take a look at both of these medications to decide which one is right for you. If you need help, call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?).


Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. This combination is beneficial because not only does it have the opiate replacement agent buprenorphine, it also contains naloxone, which is an opiate agonist. This gives Suboxone a distinct advantage over other treatments.

The naloxone does not allow a drug user to take illicit opiates while they are on Suboxone. If they do, they risk going into withdrawal. It also puts a ceiling on how much Suboxone they can abuse and still feel euphoric. The ceiling effect will only allow them to get to a certain level before it plateaus.

Suboxone and Methadone

Both Suboxone and methadone can cause extreme drowsiness.

Suboxone has a variety of side effects. According to the manufacturer of Suboxone, Indivior Incorporated, the serious side effects of Suboxone are:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Pain in the upper right quadrant of the body
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Dark colored urine
  • Light colored stool
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes

The serious side effects of Suboxone may be very dangerous if left untreated.


Methadone is by far the most popular and used treatment for opiate detoxification. There are over 250,000 more people using methadone over Suboxone. Methadone is a single action opiate substitution medication. It also has some very serious side effects. According to the National Library of Medicine, these side effects are:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Hallucinations

These side effects require immediate treatment.

Methadone Versus Suboxone, What’s the Difference?

Methadone and Suboxone have some differences. Methadone:

  • Is single medication
  • Is cheaper
  • Has less risky side effects
  • Has a better chance of remaining off opiates on a maintenance program
  • Has better long term outcomes
  • Is more likely to cause severe withdrawal symptoms unless you taper off it
  • Is more likely to cause an overdose
  • Requires visits to a clinic every 24 hours

Suboxone or Methadone – Why One Isn’t Much Better than the Other

In many studies Suboxone:

  • Is a combination of medications
  • Has more risky side effects
  • Is more difficult to say on during a maintenance program
  • Is easier to get
  • Does not require visits to a clinic every 24 hours
  • Can be taken home as a prescription medication
  • Has less serious withdrawal
  • Is much easier to taper
  • Is extremely expensive
  • Has a ceiling so you do not overdose

Just like the choice in treatment center depends on your needs, so does the choice between Suboxone and methadone. Methadone is a stronger drug and works better for severe addiction where Suboxone is lighter but still works for moderate addiction.

Finding Treatment with Suboxone or Methadone

Although these medications are usually lumped together, there are some differences between the two. Which you choose depends on your requirements for treatment. You can find treatment with either Suboxone or methadone simply by calling 800-891-9360(Who Answers?). We can help you find a treatment center that offers both of these opiate addiction medications.

How Our Helpline Works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the MethadoneClinic.com helpline is a private and convenient solution.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither MethadoneClinic.com nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.