Methadone has never been free from controversy, and while many credit methadone therapy with saving their lives, an equal number question the value of a therapy that simply addicts to another form of opiate, and requires a long term continuation of drug taking.
But for the last 7 years or so, opiate addicts have had an alternative to methadone, and in many ways a better choice.
Suboxone or methadone…what's the difference?
Suboxone is the new kid on the block in the treatment of opiate dependence, and is used like methadone as a form of replacement therapy. Suboxone allows heroin and pain pill addicts to transition off of an intoxicating substance onto a drug that won’t get them high, will allow them to once again participate normally in society, and will keep painful withdrawal symptoms away.
What's wrong with methadone?
The problem with methadone has always been its potential for abuse. Although when administered in carefully controlled doses as in a methadone clinic, addicts will not feel intoxicated, if taken in larger than recommended doses, it can get you quite high. To ensure that this therapy intended to lessen drug addiction does not fuel the fire, methadone can only be given in small doses, and often addicts are forced to take the dose under supervision in a methadone clinic.
It needs to be taken every day or two, and so methadone therapy requires a significant time and energy commitment.
What is suboxone?
Suboxone acts in a similar manner to methadone, and opiate addicts who transition to suboxone will also function normally without either getting high or feeling the pains of withdrawal. The active ingredients in suboxone are buprenorphine and nalexone. Buprenorphine is the opiate replacement, but is not as intoxicating as methadone and to further reduce the potential for abuse; the medication is combined with an opiate antagonist, nalexone. When the medication is taken as directed (dissolved under the tongue) very little nalexone is absorbed, but if an addict attempts to inject the medication the full dosage strength of nalexone will be absorbed, and the addict will enter into immediate and very painful withdrawal.
Since Suboxone has a much lower potential for abuse it can be prescribed in larger quantities, and addicts in recovery will not need to go to a clinic to take their medication. Suboxone therapy promises a great reduction in the time and energy commitment required to get better.
Many addicts have called suboxone a miracle cure, and a far preferable alternative to methadone. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of doctors qualified to prescribe the medication, and the high cost of the drug, access to suboxone therapy is limited.
Talk to your doctor about the relative benefits of suboxone therapy, and find out whether suboxone might be the solution you've been looking for to end you dependence on drugs.
Page last updated Jun 22, 2012