What is Better for Opioid Withdrawal – Suboxone or Methadone?

There is an epidemic of opioid overuse in our country, and the rates of both opioid abuse and overdoses from opioids continue to increase. According to the CDC, in 2017 there were roughly 70,000 deaths from overdoses and 68% of those were from prescription or illicit opioids. While this is a grim statistic there are also those who are seeking help in overcoming their opioid use disorder (OUD). We are here to help with your opioid withdrawal.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to opioids, there is help, and ways to change the course of your life for the better. Recovering from substance abuse begins the moment an individual decides to pick up the phone and ask for addiction treatment. With medication-assisted-treatment (MAT), recovery is possible. 

When struggling with opioid addiction, one of the most commonly asked questions is the difference between Suboxone and methadone. Read on to learn the key differences between these two commonly used MAT, and contact Harmony Ridge Recovery Center to take the first step towards your new life. 

Are you ready to feel your best? Walkthrough your opioid withdrawal with the right team at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center.

What to Know About Methadone for opioid withdrawal

Asking yourself “What is better for detoxing from opioids?” is a loaded question. Depending on the severity of your opioid addiction a doctor may prescribe you either Methadone or Suboxone, and there are distinct differences between the two. Methadone has been used for decades in the treatment of opioid addictions and is on the list of schedule II- controlled medications. As a long-acting, full opioid agonist, methadone works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. Not only will the methadone block the effect of opioid withdrawal including the euphoric effects, it will also help to lessen the painful symptoms of opioid withdrawal. 

Once it is initially prescribed, methadone dosages need to be slowly built up over time to avoid the risk of overdosing and taken through a SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment center. 

When methadone is used to relieve pain, it may be taken every 8 to 12 hours. If you take methadone as part of a treatment program, your doctor will prescribe the dosing schedule that is best for you. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand, and always be sure to take methadone exactly as directed.

How Long Does a Methadone Program Take?

It is reasonable for anyone who will undergo medical treatment to want to know how long the program will last, right? However, no matter how reasonable the question is, when it comes to the methadone treatment, the answer can be quite difficult to muster. When looking at addiction as a type of chronic disease, continuous care, monitoring, and dedication are necessary ingredients for success.  

When taken as prescribed, methadone is a safe and effective way to help individuals achieve and sustain recovery and to reclaim active and meaningful lives. The length of a methadone program varies, but generally can be used as long as the patient is stable and benefiting from the treatment. The reality is that the longer patients stay with the program, the better their chances are of overcoming opioid use, addiction, and relapse.  

What are the Downsides of Methadone? 

It’s important to take a deeper look into the potential disadvantages to any treatment program to ensure you are making the best choice for your situation. Methadone is a very effective treatment for opioid addiction, but as with many treatments for medical problems, it only works when the patient is committed to making significant lifestyle changes. Keep these points in mind when weighing your options: 

  • While on methadone you remain physically dependent on opioids, and you will need to follow your dosage routine exactly to keep opioid withdrawal symptoms down.
  • When beginning a methadone program, you will have to go to a methadone clinic daily to take your dose under supervision. 
  • Methadone is a long-lasting opioid. This is an advantage for maintenance therapy as you won’t need to take it more than once a day, but it means that withdrawal symptoms will last for a longer duration than would occur during withdrawal off of a drug like heroin. 

What to Know About Suboxone for opioid withdrawal

Suboxone, one of the buprenorphine medication-assisted-treatments, is also widely used to treat opioid addiction. Being an opioid partial agonist, it produces similar euphoric effects as opioids but the effect is much less than with heroin or prescription opioids.  The unique properties of buprenorphine medication-assisted-treatments such as Suboxone make it one of the safest and most effective methods of treatment. The treatment allows the brain circuits connected with addiction to rewire and heal as they work towards long lasting recovery. 

Your doctor may prescribe Suboxone for dependence on short-acting opioids including heroin and prescription painkillers, however, Suboxone is typically not recommended for long-acting opioids. Instead, many people use a buprenorphine-only medication.

The key benefits of choosing this treatment method are:

  • Diminish the effects of physical dependency to opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Increase safety in cases of overdose.
  • Lower the potential for misuse.

While Suboxone can help you manage the symptoms of withdrawal that come from quitting opioids, it’s important to find a comprehensive treatment program. Counseling and therapy can help you target your underlying reason for opioid use, and find new ways to cope with pain and stress.

How Long Will You Need to Use Suboxone?

The amount of time you’ll need to take Suboxone varies based on your individual circumstances and history with opioid addiction. Patients diagnosed with an OUD should talk to their health care practitioner before starting treatment with buprenorphine to fully understand the medication and other available treatment options.

To begin treatment, an OUD patient must abstain from using opioids for at least 12 to 24 hours and be in the early stages of opioid withdrawal. Patents with opioids in their bloodstream or who are not in the early stages of withdrawal may experience acute withdrawal. Once a patient is experiencing few, if any side effects, the dosage may Due to the long-acting agent of buprenorphine, once patients are stabilized, it may be possible to switch from every day to alternate-day dosing.

The length of time a patient receives Suboxone is tailored to meet the needs of each patient, and in some cases, treatment can be indefinite. To prevent possible relapse, individuals can engage in on-going treatment—with or without medication-assisted-treatment.

What are the Downsides of Suboxone? 

As with any prescribed medication, the use of Suboxone has both upsides and downsides and may interact with other pharmaceuticals or herbal substances.  

One of the key differences with Suboxone compared to methadone is that it’s safer to use than methadone. Because of this, it is easier to prescribe and doesn’t require daily visits. This significantly increases the availability of it for those in need of treatment. However, it is important to keep these key points in mind when choosing the best treatment for your situation: 

  • Because of buprenorphine’s opioid effects, it can be misused, particularly by people who do not have an opioid dependency. Naloxone is added to buprenorphine to create Suboxone, and this decreases the likelihood of diversion and misuse of the combination drug product.
  • Unsupervised use and abrupt discontinuation may cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Self-administration of other medications while taking Suboxone should be avoided.
With medication-assisted-treatment, recovery is possible. Take back your life. 

Why Choose a Medication-Assisted-Treatment for opioid withdrawal? 

There is a stigma behind helping recovering addicts reach sobriety with the assistance of medications. However, our goal is to break this stigma. By using medications to manage the effects of opioid withdrawal, our patients at Harmony Ridge have a better chance of being able to focus solely on their recovery.

We understand that ceasing drug use without the help of medication is sometimes not the best option for our patients. In our medication-assisted treatment here at Harmony Ridge, our staff is available 24/7 to manage the effects of opioid withdrawal on different prescribed medications. 

You may be an ideal candidate for medication-assisted treatment if you have:

  • Been diagnosed with an opioid addiction
  • No physical issues that could be affected by the medication
  • Educated yourself on all treatment possibilities
  • Agreed to follow strict instructions that come with the medication-assisted treatment

You may not be an ideal candidate if you have:

  • Low motivation to attain sobriety
  • More than one substance addiction at the same time
  • A history of misuse and abuse of medication
  • Difficulties with health conditions like heart disease and liver failure

Medication-assisted treatments can be overwhelming to think about. Opioid withdrawal can be a scary concept. But our team at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is here to help you understand that, if done correctly, MAT is an amazing way to help cope with addiction. Our staff is highly trained and certified to provide the care necessary to include MAT in our treatment programs. Recovering from substance abuse begins the moment you pick up the phone and ask for addiction treatment. With medication-assisted-treatment, recovery is possible. Take back your life. 

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