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Methadone vs. Suboxone

Home Methadone vs. Suboxone

How are methadone and Suboxone different?   

Methadone and Suboxone both treat addiction to opioids

Methadone and Suboxone are both commonly used FDA-approved medications that are used to treat opioid addiction. Both were first administered in the U.S. in the 1960s. They are used to treat opioid addiction including:        

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • OxyContin (Oxycodone)
  • Fentanyl
  • Vicodin

Depending on the severity of your opioid addiction, a doctor may prescribe you either methadone or Suboxone. Methadone can only be dispensed at an opioid treatment program (OTP) to treat addiction. Here are the differences between the two medications:


How Does Methadone Work?

Methadone works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain.

It lessens the painful symptoms of opiate withdrawal and blocks the euphoric effects of opiate drugs. Methadone dosages need to be slowly built up over time to avoid the risk of overdosing.


How Does Suboxone Work?

Suboxone is a partial agonist opioid. Like methadone, it binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, but does not fully stimulate them like methadone.

Because it is only a partial agonist opioid, Subxone may be less effective at managing cravings and withdrawal symptoms for severe cases of addiction.

How is Methadone Administered?

Methadone is typically dispensed orally in the following forms:


Liquid methadone can be dispensed with a measuring pump. Dosages can be adjusted to as small as a single milligram.


Tablets can either be swallowed or dissolved in water and then administered in an oral dose. (Only used in specific cases)

How is Suboxone Administered?

Suboxone is administered as a daily tablet or film that dissolves under the tongue. Swallowing it does not have the same effect.


Maintenance doses are generally between 12 and 32 milligrams.


Maintenance doses are generally between 12 and 32 milligrams.

How Long Will I Need To Use Methadone?

Methadone is used as long as the patient is stable and benefiting from the treatment.

How Long Will I Need to Use Suboxone?

The amount of time you’ll need to take Suboxone varies based on your individual circumstances and history with opioid addiction.



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