Medication Assisted Treatment is becoming a preferred level of care for opioid dependence because our country is dealing with an opioid epidemic. Individuals struggling with an opioid addiction may be considering Suboxone or Methadone as a form of treatment to help them get sober.

This level of care allows the individual to be treated on an outpatient basis, so they can maintain their daily lives.

Inpatient treatment may not work for someone who has to work to support their family, is unable to afford it, or has no one to care for their children.

It would be wonderful if everyone had the luxury to go to an inpatient program, but it may not be a viable option for many.

Suboxone vs. Methadone – Similarities

Methadone and Suboxone are excellent options in an outpatient opioid treatment program when they can’t take time off work or have a family to maintain. Suboxone and Methadone are both narcotics, but they are very different and can’t be taken together.

Both medications are monitored by a physician specifically trained in using them to treat addiction. Methadone and Suboxone are addictive and will cause withdrawal symptoms if the patient suddenly stops taking medication.

Suboxone vs. Methadone – Differences

Methadone works best if the patient is in active withdrawal when starting the medication. It’s important that the patient hasn’t used in the last 8-10 hours before admission to a program, so they are eligible for Methadone treatment.

Suboxone is a good option for someone just getting out of detox or residential treatment or even someone being released from jail. Treatment can’t be started while opiates are in the body because the receptors need to be opioid-free for the Suboxone to work.

Methadone is typically prescribed and dispensed in a clinic. However, Suboxone is often prescribed in an office with the prescription filled at the local pharmacy.

Methadone is more affordable than Suboxone, but you have to dose daily at a clinic and Suboxone is prescribed 30 days at a time.

For Methadone treatment, the patient will come to the clinic for daily doses. If they are compliant with treatment, they will start receiving take-home medication and reduce the number of days they come to the clinic. Suboxone patients often receive a one-month supply of medication at a time leading to less accountability. As an addiction professional, I recommend having a family member monitor medication for added accountability.

Suboxone is less likely to be abused, but since there’s less monitoring, it’s easier for it to be traded or sold.

Both medications should be accompanied by individual and group counseling for the best results. Individual counseling may be once weekly or three times weekly for a group program.

The Common Side Effects of Suboxone and Methadone

Side effects of Suboxone and Methadone include constipation, nausea, upset stomach, headache, and low libido. Most reactions will improve within the first or second week of treatment.

Why You Should Consider Suboxone or Methadone Treatment

When considering treatment, it is important to remember that Suboxone and Methadone are not a cure for addiction. They are tools that can be used to aid you in recovery.

Someone trying to get off opioids on their own will experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe and cause many to give in and use again.

The benefit of using Suboxone or Methadone is that they can block the withdrawal symptoms and cravings to use. This allows the focus to be on other areas of recovery instead of the withdrawal symptoms alone. Medication gives you an opportunity to stabilize all aspects of your life.

It’s also important to understand that beginning Suboxone or Methadone treatment is a long-term commitment to treatment. Typically, you’ll be in treatment for a minimum of 12 months before there’s a consideration to be tapered from the medication.

This’ll give you time to improve life skills, self-esteem, relationships, employment, develop a healthy support system, and other areas of life that need stabilization. If you haven’t improved in these areas, you are more likely to return to using once you are off the medication.

One medication is no better than the other. They are just different tools to help in the recovery process. A physician specially trained in addiction medication can help you choose the best one for your needs.

The quality of recovery doesn’t depend solely on which medication is chosen. It also depends on your participation in recovery related activities such as individual counseling to address personal issues, educational groups to improve life skills, and community support groups to develop a support system.