Opioid addiction has claimed the lives of millions of people over centuries of use. In the past, treatment options were extremely limited, but science has finally caught up and offered a variety of useful medical treatments. Two of the most popular, methadone and suboxone, have been prescribed to people all across the nation to decrease the severity of their withdrawal symptoms.
As you might expect, these two substances create different reactions in the body and the mind. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and understanding these can help make it easier for you to choose the best one for your needs. The following information will help educate you on how each substance helps treat addiction, its pros and cons, and which may be right for you.
The Differences Between These Two Substances
Before delving into the pros and cons of these medications, it’s worth looking into the way they differ from one another. Understanding the ways in which they work to treat your addiction can help streamline your decision-making process and help you choose the best possible treatment for your needs. We’ll start by taking a look at the most well-known of the two: methadone.
Methadone has been used to treat opioid addiction since the 1960s. It is a synthetic substance that falls under the heading of the opiate agonists. This means that it stimulates the areas of the brain affected by opiate addiction. It is generally taken once every 24 to 36 hours and helps eliminate physical withdrawal symptoms while also helping to stop cravings for unsafe opiates, such as heroin and morphine.
This substance, when carefully monitored, has been shown to be an effective way to slowly eliminate the need for opioids. However, other substances have been created to help people who either don’t react well with it or need a different approach. That’s where suboxone comes into play.
Suboxone is a relatively new treatment that works on two different levels. It is actually a combination of opioid agonists, usually Buprenorphine, and antagonists, like Naloxone. By combining these substances, it will help alleviate your withdrawal symptoms (the job of the agonist) and cause repulsive reactions should you use opiates (the antagonist reaction).
Both methadone and Suboxone are addictive medications. Once a person has used them and then completed a taper to discontinue use, they will likely suffer withdrawal symptoms similar to other opioids/opiates.
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The Pros And Cons Of Methadone
One of the major pros of methadone is its well-studied nature. It has been used for more than 30 years and has been studied and tested multiple times during that duration. This means scientists understand the way it affects the body more thoroughly than they do suboxone. As a result, it’s easier for them to find a healthy and safe dose quickly and without much experimentation.
That well-known nature has also made methadone a more widely accepted treatment option. As a result, the cost of it has been driven down and more insurances are likely to cover it over other treatments or medications. Even if you don’t have insurance, many clinics offer it on a sliding scale based on your personal income.
Methadone treatment is also highly structured and long-lasting. Each patient receives one dose on a carefully monitored schedule. This helps give people recovering from addiction a focus that is easy to follow and immediately understandable. It may also give them the motivation they need to succeed.
However, methadone, like any treatment method, is not perfect and it has flaws that you need to consider before choosing it as your treatment option. One of the major problems with methadone is that it’s possible to continue using other opioids while using it. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for people with severe addictions to recover successfully.
While methadone may cause a series of non-serious physical side effects, such as constipation, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction, it is generally a safe, effective, and manageable way to treat opioid addiction. Its cons are easily manageable with determination and focus, while its pros are enough to make it worth considering.
The Pros And Cons Of Suboxone
People struggling with opioid addiction have noted that the two-pronged approach of suboxone is a great way to detoxify the body. The partial agonist ensures that they don’t feel the kind of physical and emotional distress that makes withdrawal and recovery so difficult. The antagonist, on the other hand, makes it more difficult or impossible to use other opioids at the same time, making relapse less likely.
Being unable to use opiates is a major blessing for anyone struggling with addiction. Knowing that that these substances can’t be used often forces many people to accept a recovery they may have been fighting against. As a result, their mind will be a little more clear than it would have been otherwise, making it easier to understand the necessity of their rehabilitation.
Suboxone also works on a quicker time scale than methadone. It can take several weeks or even months to wean off of opiates using methadone, but suboxone can help you overcome your physical withdrawal in less than a week. This increased speed means that you spend more of your rehab time focusing on treating the problems that influence your addiction, rather than the physical side.
Unfortunately, people who use suboxone have reported a wide range of clinical side effects, including:
- Decreased sex drive
Suboxone has also been shown to generate a reaction when used concurrently with alcohol, sedatives, and other tranquilizers. In fact, using high levels of opioids while on suboxone may also trigger similar symptoms, including confusion and extreme drowsiness. Thankfully, these reactions are easily avoided as long as you stay away from these substances, but they should be noted.
Another problem is the fact that suboxone is nowhere near as widely known or as tested and studied as methadone. Its relatively new nature means it’s also more expensive than methadone, even when it is covered by health insurance. While some clinics will utilize a sliding scale for suboxone, not all of them can easily afford that option.
On a positive note, suboxone is most commonly used outside of a daily-attended clinic. Those prescribed are usually able to take their prescription home with them, after seeing an authorized doctor, and continue a normal schedule with work, school, and regular activities as they continue on suboxone until they’re able to manage their life in recovery without it. Methadone, on the flip side, is still usually used and highly monitored in a clinical setting, where those prescribed are to visit a clinic daily to get their dose. This can interfere with many responsibilities in life and could make returning to regular activity, such as work, much more difficult.
Both Can Be An Effective Way To Quit Opiates Forever
Whichever method you choose, you can rest assured that both can help you wean off of opiates in a safe and productive manner. However, it’s difficult to manage these methods on your own, which makes attending a rehab center so important. Please contact us at Vertava Health if you or someone you love needs help recovering from opiate addiction. It’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made.