Suboxone vs. Methadone: What’s Better for Opiate Detox?

When people who are addicted to opiates, which can be one of the most difficult drugs to get off. The withdrawals can be life-threatening if not supervised by a medical professional. Most addicts stay addicted because of the fears of withdrawal. Addicts would rather risk the chance of overdosing than go through withdrawal. It just proves how powerful the disease of addiction is.

Suboxone vs. Methadone: What's Better for Opiate Detox?

What Are Maintenance Drugs for Opioid Dependence?

There are plenty of maintenance drugs to aid in detoxing off opioids such as heroin and oxycodone; be it prescribed or street drugs. Those who choose to use MAT or Medication-Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction have a choice of medications. Most kinds of MAT involve medications that use an “opioid agonist.”  This works the same way as the opiate that was being abused by the opioid agonist binding to the same receptors in the, but in a safer and more controlled manner. These medications can reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce cravings, allowing for a more gradual, controlled recovery process and reducing the risk of relapse. The two opioid agonists used in MAT are methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone).

When getting off opiates we want the best and easiest way. Surely we wish it could be done with a flick of the switch but unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. So let’s compare the two, Methadone and Suboxone to see if one is a better way for opiate detox.

Both are used to treat opioid addiction from the following drugs:

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • OxyContin (Oxycodone)
  • Fentanyl
  • Vicodin

How Do Suboxone and Methadone Work?

Methadone – works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It lessens the painful withdrawal symptoms of opiate withdrawal and blocks the euphoric effects of opiate drugs. Methadone dosages need to be slowly built up over time to avoid the risk of overdosing.

Even though Methadone does not create the “high” or euphoric effect that opioid addicts chase, it does have a sedative effect. You can also grow a tolerance to it, which means you have to take more for the drug to work, which in turn grows into a dependence, which turns into an addiction. And where there is an addiction, there is a chance for overdose.

Per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2017, about 261,000 people age 12 and older reported using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once in their life. Methadone was responsible for 3,194 overdose deaths in 2017, or about 1 per 100,000 people.4 In 2014, it accounted for 1% of all opioids prescribed for pain but was responsible for 23% of all prescription opioid deaths.

Suboxone – is a partial agonist opioid. Like methadone, it binds to the brain’s opioid receptors but does not fully stimulate them like methadone. Because it is only a partial agonist opioid, Suboxone may be less effective at managing cravings and withdrawal symptoms for severe cases of addiction but it has a lower risk of addiction due to what is known as a “ceiling effect” for opioid effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression. The ceiling effect makes buprenorphine safer in two key ways: it results in a lower risk of addiction than other opioids, and also results in a lower risk of respiratory problems.

How Are These Medications Administered?

Methadone – can be given in liquid methadone can be dispensed with a measuring pump. It also can be given in tablet form, which can either be swallowed or dissolved in water and then administered in an oral dose.

Suboxone – administered as a daily tablet or film, in which doses are generally between 12 and 32 milligrams that dissolve under the tongue. Swallowing it does not have the same effect.

How Long Do You Need to Take the Medication?

Methadone – is used as long as the patient is stable and benefiting from the treatment.

Suboxone – the amount of time you’ll need to take Suboxone varies based on your circumstances and history with opioid addiction.

Which One is More Dangerous?

So in the end they both have their pros and cons but since methadone has a higher chance of overdose, addiction, and longer treatment programs, Suboxone would be a better choice in opiate detox. Methadone is one of those maintenance drugs are, because of how long you are on the maintenance program, you would be just trading one drug for another.

When it comes to Allure Detox, we provide much more than the bare minimum.  Of course, we help clients stop using safely – that’s just a given.  Almost as important as that, though, is that we offer clients the foundation for a lifetime of relief and recovery.

Get the Help You Need

That’s the Allure Detox promise: that patients leave our care with more than good health at their disposal. Our focus is on minimizing your withdrawal symptoms to a comfortable level while beginning the comprehensive treatment process that will keep you sober.