Methadone vs. Suboxone: What’s the Difference?

Methadone vs. Suboxone: What’s the Difference?

Methadone vs. Suboxone: What’s the Difference?

Chronic pain is hard to live with, which is why doctors prescribe opioids to help many people deal with day-to-day life. However, the problem with opioid prescriptions is that they are highly addictive. Many people looking for a solution to their chronic pain wind up with an even greater problem — opioid dependence or substance use disorder. It’s common to see some individuals escalate from using drugs like oxycontin or morphine to full-blown heroin use when they can no longer gain access to the opioid they were originally prescribed.

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, you may have heard about how Methadone or Suboxone can help with recovery. Each drug is used to treat opioid addiction, although they differ in their chemical makeup and how treatment works. So, how do you know which drug will work best for you? While it depends on how long you’ve been using opioids and how severe the substance use is, a trusted medical professional is the one who can best help you make the decision.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about methadone vs suboxone treatment. You’ll learn about each drug’s effectiveness in treating opioid addiction, cost comparisons between them, possible side effects from use, and other important considerations when deciding between the two treatment options.

What’s the Difference Between Methadone and Suboxone?

Methadone is a prescription opioid medication used to treat opioid dependence and morphine addiction. It comes in liquid or tablet form, which you can take daily at a clinic, doctor’s office, or addiction treatment centre. Suboxone is also an opioid medication that comes in tablet form or can be dissolved under the tongue (sublingual), but with two added ingredients: buprenorphine (partial opiate agonist) and naloxone (opioid antagonist).

Both drugs work similarly to help you stop taking other opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers by reducing cravings for these substances and also keeping you from feeling sick. Methadone and Suboxone treatments are far more effective than quitting “cold turkey” because of the intense withdrawal symptoms that are associated with opioids.

The main difference between methadone vs suboxone treatment programs would be the way they’re administered and what type of monitoring your doctor provides during your treatment period. Methadone is usually taken for a minimum of 12 months, while Suboxone may be taken anywhere from a few months to a year or more.

Is Methadone More Effective Than Suboxone?

Both Methadone and Suboxone have been proven effective in helping people overcome opioid addiction. However, they are different in how they work. Methadone is a long-acting synthetic narcotic that stops withdrawal symptoms, blocks the effects of other opioids, and helps you withdraw from them. It relieves cravings so you can focus on your treatment plan and stay away from opioids.

In contrast to Methadone, Suboxone is an opioid agonist–antagonist drug that works by switching off cravings for heroin or other opioids by blocking their receptors in the brain. Many studies have shown Methadone and Suboxone treatment to produce equally positive results, but it’s up to your doctor to determine which is best for you.

Men and women of all ages have seen positive results from both Methadone and Suboxone treatment. People who are severely addicted to opioids may stay on Methadone for years. It’s up to your doctor to determine when you’re stable enough to start slowly tapering off the drug.

However, pregnant women looking to beat opioid addiction will likely be recommended Methadone treatment. Even though there are some potential risks while taking Methadone while pregnant, studies have shown the benefits greatly outweigh any possible negative effects. While Suboxone doesn’t appear to produce any negative effects either, there aren’t enough studies yet to prove whether or not taking the drug would have adverse effects on the fetus.

Should I Get Methadone or Suboxone Treatment?

If you’re wondering whether to get Methadone or Suboxone treatment, the first thing you should know is that they work in different ways and have different side effects.

Methadone’s formula has been around longer than Suboxone, but both drugs can help people who struggle with heroin or other opiate addictions by blocking the euphoric effects of opioids and reducing cravings. Methadone treatment lasts anywhere from several months to a year (or longer), depending on how long it takes for your brain chemistry to recover from substance use. The average length of time people spend on Methadone maintenance ranges between 12 and 24 months before they’re ready to leave treatment.

Therapy session with a patient

While taking Methadone, the individual may experience side effects like physical dependence, dry mouth, dizziness, digestive distress, and sexual impotence. When the individual is ready to taper off Methadone, they may experience some uncomfortable side effects as well. The body will have to relearn how to live without the drug, which is why it’s crucial to taper off slowly under the supervision of your doctor. They may experience symptoms like:

  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Shivering or trembling

On the other hand, Suboxone lasts much less time because it comes in a tablet form rather than liquid; patients receive one dose daily as opposed to some patients requiring multiple doses throughout the day like with Methadone treatment programs. Most patients stay on this medication for about three months before being transitioned off to another form of therapy like group counseling or individual therapy sessions with a therapist specializing in psychosocial care.

Suboxone can produce side effects like constipation, dry mouth, insomnia, blurred vision, drowsiness, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and sore tongue. The withdrawal symptoms from Suboxone may produce similar effects as Methadone (listed above), along with:

  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Digestive stress
  • Drug cravings
  • Indigestion

Cost of Methadone vs. Suboxone

If you or a loved one is seeking help, you may be wondering how much Methadone and Suboxone treatment costs. Before choosing either drug to help you in your recovery, remember you have options. Let’s take a look at them below.

Fortunately, Canadian Methadone clinics are typically covered by government programs and insurance plans. All doctor visits are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP). Suboxone and Methadone requires a prescription from your doctor, which may or may not be covered by your insurance provider.

Contact CATC for Help Choosing Between Methadone and Suboxone

Remember, if you’re experiencing opioid addiction, you don’t have to go through it alone. Methadone and Suboxone have been proven highly effective in helping people get on the path to recovery and ultimately regain control of their lives.

If you’re not sure which treatment is right for you, give us a call at Canadian Addiction Treatment Centres (CATC) at 1-877-937-2282 or fill out our contact form and we’ll get in touch with you. Our team of experts can help you decide what treatment will work best for your situation and begin the recovery process.