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Advantages and Disadvantages of Suboxone and Methadone for Treating Opioid Addiction

April 25, 2017

Suboxone and Methadone are two medicine assisted treatment (MAT) options used to treat opioid and heroin addiction.  While detox centers typically use one of these medications to minimize withdrawal and curb cravings during the first week of treatment at drug rehab facilities, both Methadone and Suboxone are used by outpatient facilities as maintenance medication and therapy. But beyond the initial treatment at a detox center, how effective are medicine assisted treatment options such as Suboxone and Methadone?  What are the advantages and disadvantages?  What are the risks?

The MAT Controversy Surrounding Methadone and Suboxone

Nothing is more controversial than Suboxone and Methadone when it comes to treating drug addiction.  While some genuinely believe that Suboxone and/or Methadone has saved their lives, others believe it’s just “replacing one drug (or addiction) with another”.

It’s important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating addiction.  Thus, like anything else, what works for some may not work for others.  We genuinely believe that Suboxone and Methadone can be viable long-term treatment options for certain individuals but not for others.  Below we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both MAT options.

Advantages of Suboxone and Methadone for Treating Heroin and Opioid Addiction

Both drugs work similarly and cultivate the same effects in MAT patients.  Both Suboxone and Methadone bind to opioid receptors in the brain and reduce cravings, block the effects of other opiates (at the right dose) and practically eliminate withdrawal.  When done right, Methadone and Suboxone patients don’t get high and they can live normal, productive lives.

Because both MAT options block the effects of other more potent opiates like oxycodone, morphine, heroin and even fentanyl, MAT patients typically avoid doing other opiates for the simple reason that they won’t be able to obtain that euphoric effect.

And despite what many think, Suboxone and Methadone don’t produce feelings of euphoria for those who are using them in a clinical setting.  This is because A) the dose is regulated and B) they’ve already been using and addicted to more potent opiates.  Thus, even at higher doses, neither medication produces a “high” or feeling of euphoria.

Another advantages is that compared to residential drug rehab, MAT is far less expensive and may even be covered by private and/or state insurance.

Disadvantages of Suboxone and Methadone for Treating Opioid and Heroin Addiction

Suboxone and Methadone when used in a clinical outpatient setting require a long-term commitment.  While there’s no obligation to be or stay on either medication forever, it is advised to participate in either program for awhile to garner the mental and emotional help and support while the medication prevents withdrawal and stabilizes the body.

For those that eventually come off of Suboxone and Methadone, a slow taper is highly recommended.  This is because the body becomes physically dependent on the medication, similar to how someone who suffers from depression and takes Zoloft can’t just quit taking it cold turkey.  However, a slow and steady taper can be highly effective and significantly minimize and even eliminate any withdrawal they would have felt if they quit cold turkey or tapered too quickly.

It’s because of the dependency that the uneducated claim that MAT patients are just replacing one addiction for another.  Because there are no feelings of euphoria or “high” from either Suboxone or Methadone in a clinical setting, patients don’t become “addicted” to their medication.  However, withdrawal symptoms can be severe and elongated by quitting cold turkey or tapering too fast.  Thus, a slow, carefully planned taper with your doctor is highly recommended.

Conclusion

Residential drug rehab and therapy at a top addiction treatment center is ideal for anyone who can afford it and/or have the right insurance that covers it.  However, MAT such as Suboxone and Methadone may be a viable alternative for those who simply aren’t eligible or can’t go to drug rehab.

Looking for a Pet Friendly Heroin Detox and Drug Rehab?

The Well Recovery Center is a pet friendly heroin detox and drug rehab facility and a great place to start a healthy, substance-free life.  We now also offer MAT!

We are couples and pet friendly!  Contact us now and let us help to propel you into healthy, happy sober living.  You are invited to our beautiful drug rehab facility in California and so is your pet!

Written and Published by William, Kill The Heroin Epidemic Nationwide, Heroin News and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)

7 thoughts on “Advantages and Disadvantages of Suboxone and Methadone for Treating Opioid Addiction”

  1. I’m in a program, where I take Methadone. I have been in the program for 6 months now. This program has saved my life & along with counseling & group therapy. I believe if a person lives by the program they can live a normal life.

    1. Keep up the great work on your recovery.Just remember what ever the treatment modality is that works for you is what is needed at this time.
      All the best,
      Polly McCormick
      CEO The Well Recovery Center

  2. When I first got clean 11yrs ago it was with suboxone and found that didn’t help. Because I would not take it one day, use, then when I started feeling icky I took a quarter to half a pill. As of April 16, 2008 I went to detox and they started me on methadone. And I’ve been on methadone ever since. That really saved my life, I have a routine, and I needed something greater and stronger then me at the time. I have a life now.

  3. I have more than 20 years on MMT, nothing worked for me. I spent as much time in prison as I have now on MMT and I can tell you I’d rather be on MMT than in prison. It has allowed me to be a tax paying productive person. I never used again once I was regulated and got with the program and got settled in. After 3 months I was working and clean. Do I consider myself a addict…yes I do, I’ll have that label until I die, I’m ok with that…I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I pay for my own treatment, I always have. No insurance I’ve ever had has covered…which is sad because these were big health providers BC&BS, United Healthcare…even after parity was passed they still refused coverage. They wouldn’t help with a 200.00 a month payment, yet they will now happily pay for Suboxone which is more than twice the cost of methadone. There seems to be a real lack of support for Methadone…hmm do you think, (like I do) that there is simply not enough cash to be made off of Methadone. I do!

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