Comparison: Difference between Suboxone and Methadone


Suboxone and Methadone are two widely used medications for the treatment of opioid addiction. The use of Methadone for opioid addiction started in the late 1960s in the United States. Suboxone got medical approval in 2002. Methadone and Suboxone are in global use worldwide because of their therapeutic benefits in opioid addiction treatment. Both are FDA-approved medications endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the American Medical Association (AMA).

Suboxone and Methadone boost the recovery process by binding to the opiate receptors of the brain such that it reduces painful opioid withdrawal symptoms. As the withdrawal sickness gets lessen or eliminated, the patient can focus and make efforts for the recovery process and restoration of life, family, work, and other responsibilities.

Differences between Suboxone and Methadone
Differences between Suboxone and Methadone

The central problematic aspect of addiction is the severe physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms that emerge over time. As dependence increases, opioid users find it challenging to quit the drug and need a number of doses to avoid withdrawal syndrome. Some symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • sweating
  • tremor
  • chills
  • fever, fast heart rate, anxiety, hypertension, depression, and agitation.

The physical sickness and mental agony of opioid withdrawal make users take desperate steps. People often start injecting cheap and easily available drugs such as heroin or other narcotics, which places them at a higher risk of overdose leading to death.

Methadone and suboxone primarily address the debilitating withdrawal sickness providing a degree of physical or emotional relief and mental and physical stability that are essential for the people in the recovery phase. These two medications assist the process of treatment by keeping people in recovery for more extended periods and removing the dilemma of consuming illegal drugs to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone and Suboxone: A Comparison

comparison between Suboxone and Methadone
comparison between Suboxone and Methadone
  • Methadone is a full opioid agonist, which makes it somewhat stronger than Suboxone as it is a partial opioid agonist. But Suboxone is safer than methadone. Both are prescription medications. For the treatment of addiction, healthcare professionals give methadone only under clinical settings and dosing under the supervision of a nurse. While doctors can prescribe suboxone taken in the home.
  • Doctors often prescribe methadone in liquid form to be swallowed. Suboxone is a sublingual pill for placing under the tongue.
  • Patients on methadone treatment can only take the medication home after a period of stability on the medicine.
  • Both medications have few side effects but are safe for use at recommended doses.
  • Methadone is a single-ingredient medication, while suboxone is a combination of two medicines: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist opioid that acts on the opioid receptor sites and causes relief from withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone is an added ingredient that deters the injection use of suboxone.
  • Patients receiving methadone or suboxone require regular counseling in addition to their medications. The counseling sessions help them to develop improved skills of coping up and the ability to prevent relapse.

Limitations of Suboxone

Suboxone has been popular in the past few years due to the growing USA opioid epidemic. As a result, people became curious about the medication and tried it as a possible alternative to methadone.

Suboxone offers immediate take-home convenience, but opioid users having a high addiction does not find it strong enough to eliminate their withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone, being a partial opioid agonist, may not entirely eradicate substantial opioid withdrawal. However, it has interpatient variability.

Suboxone has much effectiveness but taking its larger doses does not produce any additional efficacy. When the opioid withdrawal of a patient is not treatable with suboxone, doctors may prescribe methadone as it’s a full opioid agonist. Methadone has no ceiling effects. There is a specific dosage of methadone for all opioid-dependent patients that will altogether remove their symptoms of withdrawal.

In the upcoming years, policymakers and legislators should promote medication-assisted treatment, but the suboxone should not be a panacea for all types of opioid addictions.

Both suboxone and methadone are lifesavers, and each has its unique advantages and efficacy. However, methadone is the first-line medication for treating mild to severe opioid addictions. The records and history of methadone’s effectiveness and its ability to completely alleviate opioid withdrawal and opioid cravings are still unbeatable.

1 thought on “Comparison: Difference between Suboxone and Methadone”

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