Suboxone vs Methadone: How Long Do They Work?

Substance abuse issues, particularly opioids, constitute a global public health crisis affecting millions of individuals. Detoxifying from these substances is an arduous process that necessitates comprehensive support to attain the goal of a substance-free life. Fortunately, specialized centers like MAT Care Clinics offer medication-assisted treatment to help individuals overcome their dependency and reduce withdrawal symptoms, thus minimizing the risk of relapse. When seeking treatment options to combat substance abuse, people often compare Suboxone vs Methadone, as these are two of the most common and effective choices in medication-assisted treatments.

This MAT Care Clinics blog will delve into the key differences between Suboxone and Methadone in the fight against opioid abuse. We will address a frequently asked question: “Suboxone vs Methadone: How long do they work?” By comprehending the features, advantages, and considerations of each, you can make informed decisions regarding your path to recovery or provide support to a loved one. Remember that MAT Care Clinics is here to assist you on your journey toward sobriety.

Defining Suboxone

The FDA approved Suboxone and made its debut in 2002 with the primary purpose of assisting in treating opioid abuse and serving as an alternative to Methadone. Suboxone comprises a combination of 80% buprenorphine and 20% naloxone. Its predominant component, buprenorphine, acts as a partial opioid agonist. At the same time, the remaining portion contains naloxone, a substance used to block the effects of opioids, meaning that Suboxone carries a significantly lower risk of causing dependency.

How Long Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone’s duration can vary, but generally, it lasts around 24 to 60 hours. Buprenorphine has a long half-life, which contributes to its sustained effects. This long-lasting action allows for less frequent dosing, often just once a day, which can be more convenient for patients in recovery.

Factors such as an individual’s weight, metabolism, and past drug abuse can impact how long the effects of Suboxone last. Working closely with a doctor to determine a personalized and appropriate dosage based on your medical history is recommended.

Benefits of Suboxone

When comparing Suboxone vs. Methadone, one of the critical advantages of Suboxone lies in its components, particularly buprenorphine. Buprenorphine, as the primary active ingredient, mildly stimulates the brain’s receptors, relieving withdrawal symptoms without inducing any sense of euphoria or a “high.” Naloxone is responsible for blocking the opioid’s effects.

In a study shared by the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives, participants using Suboxone exhibited 45% fewer emergency room visits during their first year of detoxification processes compared to the year before, and 27% were able to stay away from heroin use.

Using Suboxone in recovery treatments, alongside therapeutic support, has been demonstrated to provide a range of benefits, including:

  • Reducing withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and risk of relapse
  • Enhancing the quality of life
  • Increasing survival rates
  • Decreasing the use of illegal drugs
  • Lowering the risk of sharing needles

Understanding Methadone

Methadone, originally developed as a painkiller in the German market in 1940, later found its significant application in the United States as a medication for individuals struggling with heroin use. However, it wasn’t until 22 years later, in 1972, that the FDA approved its use. Methadone has since become one of the most employed medications for addressing opioid misuse, recognized as a fully synthetic agonist of the brain’s opioid receptors. People who incorporate Methadone into their opioid abuse treatment experience reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does Methadone Work?

Methadone’s duration of action is longer than that of most other opioids. A single dose of Methadone can relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids for around 24 to 36 hours. However, some individuals may require split amounts throughout the day to maintain a stable blood level of the medication. A healthcare provider determines the dosing regimen depending on the patient’s needs and outcomes.

Benefits of Methadone

Like Suboxone, Methadone also aids in diminishing withdrawal symptoms when individuals cease opioid abuse. Both Methadone and Suboxone possess a longer half-life compared to many opioids, meaning that the drug takes more time to leave the body, resulting in delayed and less severe withdrawal symptoms.

When patients have managed withdrawal symptoms effectively, they can focus on treatment therapies and their lives. Over time, physicians gradually taper the use of Methadone to achieve complete substance cessation. Nonetheless, this process may extend for many patients for months, years, or even a lifetime.

Comparing Suboxone vs Methadone

While both medications are opioids and function similarly, when comparing Suboxone vs Methadone, you should consider the following factors:

  1. Suboxone Side Effects:

When comparing Suboxone vs Methadone, both have side effects. However, the side effects of Suboxone tend to be mild and often manifest as physical discomforts, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  1. Methadone Side Effects:

The side effects of Methadone can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Seizures

A study published by the National Library of Medicine has associated prolonged methadone use with cholestatic liver injuries and decreased attention capacity. Other research has determined that extended methadone consumption can lead to abuse and foster a cycle of addiction.

  1. Suboxone Misuse Risk:

Substance dependence occurs when the brain associates the consumption of a substance with well-being, leading to an excessive release of dopamine that, over time, instigates cravings, compelling the body to seek ways to recreate that dopamine surge.

Fortunately, the components of Suboxone have a comparatively weak impact on the brain and mitigate the euphoric effects associated with dopamine surges. Therefore, when comparing Suboxone vs Methadone, Suboxone can be regarded as a safer and less addictive option. The DEA classified Suboxone as Schedule III, indicating a moderate to low potential for dependence.

It is essential to mention that when Suboxone interacts with sedative drugs, alcohol, Methadone, or antihistamines, it may increase the risk of overdose.

  1. Methadone Misuse Risk:

While medically supervised use should not lead to Methadone misuse, as a full opioid agonist, it triggers a chemical reaction that renders individuals more susceptible to developing dependency. According to the DEA, this substance has been categorized as Schedule II, signifying it is a medically accepted drug with a high potential for abuse due to its opioid-like effect.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that drug overdose deaths involving Methadone have increased over the years, from 0.8 in 2019 to 1.1 in 2021.

Additional medications such as Xanax, Valium, ciprofloxacin, alcohol, fluconazole, cimetidine, fluoxetine, phenobarbital, efavirenz, carbamazepine, ritonavir, rifampin, or phenytoin may decrease the efficacy of Methadone, increase its effects, and elevate the risk of overdose.

  1. Suboxone vs Methadone Accessibility:

Due to its potential misuse, the federal government places stringent restrictions on frequently dispensing Methadone at approved methadone clinics. In contrast, many physicians can prescribe Suboxone, which people can get at a typical pharmacy.

  1. Suboxone vs Methadone Dosage Forms:

For medication-assisted treatments, patients can ingest suboxone sublingual films placed under the tongue, while Methadone comes in liquid that patients must swallow at once.

MAT Care Clinics Supports Opioid and Heroin Recovery

Overcoming opioid and heroin dependency is achievable with professional support and medication. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is preferred for those seeking to minimize withdrawal symptoms’ discomfort and avoid cravings and relapses. At MAT Care Clinics, we assist you in achieving sobriety through safe, effective, low-risk medications like Suboxone and traditional therapies to attain superior outcomes.

Whether you are considering Suboxone vs. Methadone, it’s important to note that Suboxone carries a much lower risk of abuse and milder side effects. At MAT Care Clinics, we are experts in opioid abuse recovery and have helped numerous individuals on their journey to recovery with patience and compassion. Ultimately, your goal is a life free from substance dependency. When comparing Suboxone vs. Methadone, Suboxone emerges as the safer option with positive results in overcoming substance dependency.

Embark on your path to a healthy recovery with reduced risks and the support of MAT Care Clinics. Call us at (833) 622-0628 for a free consultation, or contact us on our website.

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