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Methadone vs. Suboxone

Methadone and Suboxone are 2 medications that treat opioid addiction. Both substances are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to help individuals reduce their dependence on opioids, minimize withdrawal symptoms, and support long-term recovery.

Exploring the differences between Methadone vs. Suboxone enables individuals seeking treatment to make informed decisions regarding which medication may be more suitable for their specific needs.

Methadone Overview

Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals with an opioid addiction. It works by binding with the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to, thereby reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The drug comes in a liquid solution or tablet form, administered in specialized clinics under strict supervision due to its potential for abuse.

One of the key advantages of methadone is its long-lasting effects, typically lasting between 24 to 36 hours. This allows for once-daily dosing, providing stability during detox and addiction treatment. It’s use has proven effective at reducing illicit drug use, preventing overdose deaths, improving overall health outcomes, and supporting long-term recovery.

Suboxone Overview

Suboxone is a combination medication that trats opioid addictions. It contains 2 active ingredients: naloxone, an opioid antagonist, and buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist. This makes Suboxone effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms, suppressing cravings, and blocking the effects of other opioids.

Buprenorphine works by binding to the same receptors as opioids but has a ceiling effect, meaning it produces diminishing returns beyond a specific dose. This reduces the risk of respiratory depression and overdose compared to opioids like heroin. Naloxone further discourages misuse by precipitating withdrawal symptoms.

Unlike methadone, which requires specialized clinics for administration, Suboxone is prescribed for detox treatment and outpatient use in designated programs. This allows for greater flexibility in treatment options.

Methadone vs. Suboxone

Methadone and Suboxone are both effective medications used in the treatment of opioid addiction, but they have some key differences that may influence individual preferences and treatment outcomes.


Methadone is a full opioid agonist. This means it activates the opioid receptors in the brain in a similar way to other opioids like heroin or oxycodone. On the other hand, Suboxone contains buprenorphine, a partial agonist, which means its effects plateau.


Methadone is administered on-site. In contrast, Suboxone can be prescribed as an outpatient medication for home use after stabilization.


Accessing methadone requires access to specialized clinics and addiction treatment centers. On the other hand, Suboxone prescriptions offer more flexibility by allowing patients to pick up their medication from pharmacies.

Side Effects: 

Both medications carry certain side effects, such as constipation, drowsiness, nausea, headache, and sweating. However, some studies suggest that methadone may have a higher risk of respiratory depression and cardiac complications compared to Suboxone.

Treatment Duration: 

Methadone treatment is typically long-term, with some individuals remaining on the medication for years or even indefinitely. Suboxone treatment may also be long-term but can often be gradually tapered off, depending on individual progress and needs.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Both

Short-term effects of Methadone:

  • Pain relief and reduction of withdrawal symptoms
  • Sedation and drowsiness
  • Nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Dry mouth and sweating
  • Potential for respiratory depression at high doses

Long-term effects of Methadone:

  • Tolerance: Over time, individuals may require higher doses to achieve the same level of pain relief or withdrawal suppression.
  • Dependence: Long-term use can lead to physical dependence on methadone, requiring a carefully managed tapering process for discontinuation.

Short-term effects of Suboxone:

  • Reduction in cravings for opioids
  • Suppression of withdrawal symptoms 
  • Mood stabilization 

Long-term effects of Suboxone:

  • Tolerance: Like with most opioid medications, tolerance to Suboxone’s therapeutic effect may develop over time. 
  • Potential dependency: Long-term use can lead to physical dependence on buprenorphine, requiring a gradual tapering process under medical supervision when discontinuing treatment.

Risk Factors

Some risk factors associated with Methadone include:

  • Overdose
  • Increased risk of cardiac complications 
  • Potential for misuse
  • Potential drug interactions

Some risk factors associated with Suboxone include:

  • Precipitated withdrawal
  • Overconfidence in recovery
  • Risk of misuse
  • Potential drug interactions

Drug Similarities

Methadone and Suboxone share certain similarities as medications used for opioid addiction treatment. The FDA approves both Methadone and Suboxone for use in MAT to help individuals reduce their dependence on opioids.

Both medications work effectively in reducing withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid cessation, such as cravings, restlessness, muscle aches, and nausea. Both drugs can be used as long-term maintenance treatments to support addiction recovery

Benefits of Methadone and Suboxone

Both Methadone and Suboxone provide several benefits when used as part of a comprehensive detox and addiction treatment plan, including:

  • The medications are highly effective in reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid cessation, allowing individuals to undergo detoxification and start their recovery journey more smoothly.
  • The drugs provide stable relief from cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making detox and long-term recovery more successful. 
  • Both drugs have been well-studied. Both have a proven track record of a viable MAT medication option for opioid detox and addiction treatment. 

Methadone Abuse and Withdrawal

Methadone carries a risk of misuse and addiction due to its euphoric effects. If an individual abruptly stops taking methadone after long-term use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those associated with other opioids and may need detox. Discontinuing methadone treatment should be done under medical supervision to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone Abuse and Withdrawal 

While Suboxone is a helpful medication for opioid addiction treatment, it is not immune to potential abuse and withdrawal effects. If an individual abruptly stops taking Suboxone after long-term use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those of other opioids.

Discontinuing treatment should be done under medical supervision. Gradually reducing the dose over time can help minimize withdrawal effects.

Personalized Opioid Detox Treatment in Nashville, TN

At Detox Nashville, our experienced team of healthcare professionals understands the challenges of opioid addiction. We offer customized treatment plans to meet your unique needs, which may include Methadone and Suboxone when appropriate. Don’t let opioids control your life any longer.

Take the first step to a healthier, drug-free future by contacting us today.

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24/7 Help Is Standing By, Call Us Now.