3 Advantages of Suboxone Treatment Over Methadone
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), the combination of medications and counseling for treating addiction, is considered the “gold standard” of care for opioid addiction.
The two most commonly used medications for treating opioid dependence are buprenorphine-naloxone (Suboxone) and methadone. They suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings, allowing for a more gradual, controlled recovery process that drastically reduces the risk of relapse.
While methadone and Suboxone are both important staples in the management of opioid dependence, there are some striking differences between the two.
Let’s look at three potential advantages of Suboxone and how they can impact your treatment.
#1 The Additional Abuse Deterrents
Methadone is a full opioid agonist, meaning it fully binds to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking cravings and eliminating withdrawal symptoms. It produces opioid effects like sedation, euphoria, or respiratory depression until the receptors are fully activated or the maximum effect is reached. It’s generally taken once a day and comes in pill, liquid, and wafer forms.
One concern with methadone is the danger of ongoing opiate use during treatment. For example, research shows when you take other opiates with methadone, the effects of both medications are enhanced. This can lead to a deadly decrease in central nervous system activity.
Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Similar to methadone, buprenorphine prevents debilitating withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but it also deters abuse by blocking the euphoric effects of other opiates. That means, if you take an opiate like OxyContin with buprenorphine, the buprenorphine essentially blocks its effects. The naloxone in Suboxone serves as an additional abuse deterrent, causing acute withdrawal if injected.
Knowing you’re unable to abuse other opiates can be a blessing in early treatment. Instead of worrying about withdrawal or constantly feeding an addiction, you’re able to focus on your recovery with a clear mind.
Buprenorphine-naloxone comes in film and tablet forms that are placed under the tongue to dissolve. And a new once-a-month injection of buprenorphine, Sublocade, is also available.
#2 Office-Based Treatment Without the Stigma
Outside of cost, stigma is the single largest barrier to opioid treatment. Studies show that MAT helps people achieve recovery with fewer relapses, yet the stigma associated with treatment outside the “traditional” medical system scares many away from this lifesaving treatment.
Under federal law, methadone may only be dispensed through an opioid treatment program certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), meaning you are generally required to dose at a methadone clinic each day. However, after a significant period of stability and compliance, some clinics do allow take-home methadone between visits.
Unfortunately, stigma fuels a misconception that methadone clinics pose a danger to the surrounding public. As a result, many states limit the number of facilities they license, which decreases treatment access to those in need.
Clinicians prescribing Suboxone can offer treatment in an office-based setting – something that could potentially dismantle the negative stigma around MAT. Buprenorphine is the first medication of its kind that can be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, which can significantly increase treatment access.
Office-based Suboxone treatment also tends to provide a more flexible and individualized experience. It’s just like going to see a family physician. You have a scheduled appointment with the clinician, and a block of his or her time is dedicated to evaluating your individual treatment progression. After counseling, the clinician writes you a new prescription, you head to the pharmacy to pick up your medication, and you’re all done.
#3 More Freedom in Your Treatment
Most methadone clinics have very early hours of operation. Some open at 3 a.m. and close as early as 8 a.m. And the wait times for dosing can be extremely lengthy. One snoozed alarm, unexpected traffic jam, or unforeseen life event can cause you to miss your daily dose or fail to show up for a random drug screen – situations that could trigger withdrawal symptoms or the loss of take-home methadone privileges.
And while most people taking daily medications for chronic illness find it easy to travel, things aren’t as simple for those taking methadone. Should you need to “guest dose” at a different methadone clinic, it takes up to two weeks of careful preparation and paperwork between the home clinic and the guest clinic. The stress of it all causes many patients to avoid traveling at all costs.
Suboxone, on the other hand, can be prescribed by doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants for seven, 14, or even 30 days at a time. After your office visit, a new prescription is electronically sent to your pharmacy. It’s available for pickup as soon as your current prescription is finished, giving you the freedom to make your recovery and your life work in harmony.
Even though counseling and drug tests are also mandatory with Suboxone treatment, prescribing clinicians tend to offer standard office hours and days of availability throughout the week.
And since you have the freedom of taking medication at home, it’s much easier to travel. Arrangements can be made by working with your clinician and scheduling appointments around dates of travel.
Which One is Right for You?
If you’re struggling with opiate addiction, there are treatment options available. SaVida Health’s trained, caring staff will work with you to find the best course of treatment. Your journey to recovery can begin today. Contact us and find out how to get started.