Getting the help you need is an overwhelming decision.  The goal is to find a treatment plan that is going to work for you and your individual needs.  Having clear information and knowing what to expect are key factors to succeeding in your recovery.  When researching addiction and treatment options you may come across the terms Buprenorphine and Methadone.  So what exactly is the difference between the two?

To answer this question we will look at some of the similarities as well as the differences.  Buprenorphine is often referred to as Suboxone, but Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in the medication.  Both Buprenorphine and Methadone are synthetic opioids used in the treatment of addiction to narcotics and opioid dependency.

Buprenorphine is a partial agonist, whereas Methadone is a full agonist.  As a full agonist, Methadone continues to activate receptors for maximum effect.  Buprenorphine on the other hand reaches a plateau in its activation process, allowing the patient to discontinue use without severe withdrawal symptoms, and has a lower risk of overdose than Methadone.

In some cases of severe addiction Buprenorphine may not be strong enough to relieve withdrawal symptoms, therefore the dosage of Methadone may be more appropriate.  Because the dosage and possible addictive nature of Methadone is higher, the process must be monitored much more closely than Buprenorphine, which allows the patient to proceed with at home treatment.  It has been found that Buprenorphine is usually less addictive than Methadone, the intensity of withdrawal symptoms is lower, and the risk of fatal overdose is less.

Each patient is different and their reaction and tolerance to medications will vary.  The following comparison sheet outlines a few key differences between Suboxone and Methadone.

  • Suboxone
  • Partial Agonist
  • Less risk of addiction
  • Low risk of overdose
  • More expensive than Methadone
  • Lower dosage and at home monitoring
  • Effective for low to medium addictions
  • Methadone
  • Full Agonist
  • Higher risk of addiction
  • High risk of overdose
  • Generally less expensive (generic available)
  • Higher dosage and monitoring
  • More suited for severe levels of addiction

Buprenorphine and Methadone can be effectively used to treat addiction to opioids such as Heroin, Morphine, and Codeine.  Each patient and their addiction is different, and it is important to know the facts when deciding what treatment is right for you.  Whichever path you choose should be closely monitored by an experienced physician.

For more information on Buprenorphine and Methadone please visit the links below.