What are Methadone and Suboxone?

Both Methadone is an FDA approved narcotic drug used for the treatment of opioid use disorder as well as pain management.  Suboxone, (buprenorphine and Naloxone) on the other hand is classified a partial agonists.  This FDA approved drug treats opioid addiction by relieving symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.  On major difference between these two drugs, which do help in the treatment of opioid addiction, is Methadone is much more addictive than Suboxone, even when used correctly.  We will dive into more of what the differences are below. 

More about Methadone and Suboxone

Methadone has no generic, like Suboxone.  The generic Suboxone is call Buprenorphine-Naloxone.  However, Methadone does have other brand name versions such as, Dolophine, Methadone HCI Intensol, and Methadose.  Suboxone competitors are called Bunavail and Zubsolv.  The right choice for which brand name of Buprenorphine-Naloxone is 100% up to the medication assisted treatment provider. 

Both Methadone and Suboxone treat opioid addiction.  This includes prescription pain medications as well as illegal substances such as heroin.  However, Methadone is used to also treat chronic pain, where Suboxone is not.  The reason for this is Suboxone has Naloxone, which blocks the receptors in the brain that give the user a high.  If you remove the Naloxone from Suboxone, leaving you with just Buprenorphine, now you have a pain medication.  Buprenorphine is used, like Methadone, for those with moderate to server pain, IE, Cancer pain, bone pain, etc.  Although methadone can be used, more and more prescribers are moving to Buprenorphine as it is less habit forming than methadone.

Methadone and Suboxone both have risk of withdrawal if not properly removed from the medication.  This “taper” should be performed by the prescribing Suboxone or methadone doctor based on the data they have of treatment.  We highly recommend that patients do not try to remove themselves from either one of these medications. Both Methadone and Suboxone both have the potential to be misused by those looking for a high.  This is why methadone is a schedule II controlled substance and Suboxone is a schedule III controlled substance.  As an online provider of medication-assisted treatment, we do not prescribe methadone, only Suboxone.

When it comes to taking the medications, there is not much difference between methadone vs. Suboxone.  Methadone can be administered the following ways:

  • Tablet
  • Injection
  • Dispersible Tablet (dissolved in a liquid)

Suboxone, as the brand name, is delivered by an oral film.  This film dissolves under the tongue, which is called sublingual, or it can be placed between the gums and cheek to dissolved, which is called buccal.  The generic version of Suboxone, buprenorphine-naloxone are available in both the oral film and also a tablet (pill). 

Difference in Cost Between Methadone and Suboxone

The difference between methadone and Suboxone when it comes to cost varies by insurance.  Most insurances cover medication assisted treatment (the program used in conjunction with methadone and Suboxone).  Cash prices also vary, however, Drugabuse.gov says the annual cost for 1 full year of methadone is $4,700.  Suboxone, on the other hand, costs $1,908 annually.  There will be variation here for based on dosage amount.   RecoveryDelivered.com accepts virtually all health plans, including state funded Medicaid to cover the cost of Suboxone treatment.  When our patients are willing to move from Suboxone to a generic, they save up to 50% out of pocket. 

Access to Methadone and Suboxone

As these medications are classified as schedule 2 and 3, there are restrictions on how someone can access them. Based upon how the medication is being used, we see differences between methadone and Suboxone.

Methadone can per prescribed by a doctor for chronic pain.  However, not all pharmacies carry it.  The prescribing physician of methadone should be able to provide further assistance on which pharmacies carry the medication.  Buprenorphine is most often prescribed by medical professionals to treat pain and is readily available in most areas of the country. 

The major differences in accessing the two medication is during the treatment of opioid addiction.  Both methadone and Suboxone are used in the reduction of withdrawal symptoms and ongoing maintenance. However, one major difference for methadone vs. Suboxone, Suboxone can be administered for a detox at home while methadone requires a patient to visit a clinic or provider when you start receiving treatment.    Once the provider has seen a history of proper use, a methadone patient may be sent home with medication, however, most providers prefer to see the patient. 

There are areas of the country that have a hard time maintaining a supply of Suboxone.  We have clients who couldn’t get their scripts filled from our online doctors because the pharmacy ran out.  This is why we prefer to ship our clients Suboxone (or the generic) directly to them. 

We have also seen (and partner with) man inpatient opioid addiction centers in the country using these medications not only during the withdrawal from opioids, but also in the long term treatment of the addiction as well. 

What is the Difference in Treatment Between Methadone and Suboxone?

The major difference is that Suboxone can be taken at home from the start while methadone requires face to face visits.  Additionally, methadone is a daily event.  This means that in the beginning the user must visit the clinic every day for their methadone treatment.  With Suboxone, patients meet weekly at first and as a history of proper usage is established, they meet every two weeks, and finally monthly.  The prescribing physician writes a script for these patients for the given amount of time.

A main component of treatment with both methadone and Suboxone is that neither is a magic pill.  The user should also undergo counseling sessions with a certified addiction counselor as well as group therapy.  RecoveryDelivered.com also recommend patient join a 12-step group to help build a community of support people.  The medication for addiction helps, however, to understand and overcome the addiction, one must also look within and find the why and solve the underlying issues. 

Withdrawal Differences

Both of these medications can cause addiction and therefore, withdrawal.  However, it is important to note that methadone, as a schedule II drug, has a much higher risk of misuse than Suboxone.

The timeline for withdrawal vary by person, however, withdrawing from methadone can last three to six weeks.  The withdrawal from Suboxone can last from one month to several.  The symptoms of withdrawal from both methadone and Suboxone are:

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Hot or Cold flashes
  • Runny Nose
  • Watery Eyes
  • Goosebumps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle Aches

All users of these drugs should never stop using them on their own.  If this happens the symptoms of withdrawal could continue and will get worse.  RecoveryDelivered.com suggests you speaking with the provider to perform a taper, which lowers the amount of medication at each dose to safely allow the patient to stop taking the medication.

If you or someone you care about is currently taking Suboxone and would like make weekly visits a bit easier, let them know RecoveryDelivered.com is here to help.  We perform all of our weekly meetings online through our app.  This leaves the patients with time to live their new lives, work, or just binge watch Netflix.