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What Are The Differences Between Suboxone and Methadone?

When it comes to treating opioid addiction, two primary medications often come into play: Suboxone and Methadone. Both have proven to be effective in helping individuals overcome addiction, but they work in different ways and come with their own sets of benefits and drawbacks. This blog will delve into the differences between Suboxone and Methadone, providing a comprehensive comparison to help those in need make an informed decision.

What Are Suboxone and Methadone?


Suboxone is a combination medication consisting of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it partially stimulates the brain's opioid receptors, reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing a high. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that helps prevent misuse.


Methadone is a full opioid agonist, meaning it fully stimulates the brain's opioid receptors. It has been used for decades to treat opioid addiction and manage pain. Methadone works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, much like Suboxone, but it can produce a high, especially if misused.

Efficacy in Treating Opioid Addiction

Both medications are effective in treating opioid addiction, but their efficacy can vary based on the individual.


  • Onset: Suboxone can be prescribed by most doctors and does not always require the patient to be in a specialized treatment program.

  • Effectiveness: It is less effective in preventing relapses compared to Methadone but is still a robust option for many individuals.


  • Onset: Methadone treatment often requires starting under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

  • Effectiveness: It is highly effective in preventing opioid relapses due to its full agonist properties.

doctor talking to patient

Side Effects and Risks

Both Suboxone and Methadone have potential side effects and risks associated with their use.

Common Side Effects

  • Constipation

  • Nausea or Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Trouble Concentrating

  • Shallow Breathing

  • Sexual Problems


  • Addiction Risk: Lower than Methadone due to its partial agonist nature.

  • Overdose Risk: Also lower, thanks to its ceiling effect which limits the drug’s impact at higher doses. It is much harder to overdose on this drug comapred to toher opiates.


  • Addiction Risk: Higher than Suboxone because it is a full agonist.

  • Overdose Risk: Higher, especially if not taken as prescribed, due to its ability to fully stimulate opioid receptors.

In many cases, people may use Suboxone (or "misuse" it) to help themselves manage their withdrawal, or even to get themselves off heroin or fentanyl. If Suboxone were more available to those who need it, they wouldn't have to self-treat. We are, in effect, blaming the victims here.

These drugs have been shown to be very effective if used properly. If you or someone you know wants to know more about how suboxone and methadone work in the recovery process, feel free to reach out to us today for more information.

Treatment with Suboxone or Methadone alone, without therapy, has been proven to be less effective. These two drugs can have a much better impact on recovery if other forms of treatment (additional support systems, therapy, recovery coaching...etc) were utilized.

At LA Valley Recovery, we take this exact approach when figuring out what treatment options work best for you. Contact us toady for more information on getting the help you or your loved one may need!

Ease of Use and Accessibility


  • Prescription: Can be prescribed by most doctors.

  • Administration: Available as a pill, film strip, or implant.


  • Prescription: Requires initial administration under medical supervision.

  • Administration: Typically taken as a liquid or tablet.

Flexibility in Treatment


  • Dosing: Higher doses are required compared to Methadone for effectiveness.

  • Flexibility: Should be started without strict medical supervision.


  • Dosing: More flexible with take-home options available as the treatment progresses.

  • Flexibility: Often part of a structured treatment program.

Both Suboxone and Methadone are vital tools in the battle against opioid addiction and are somewhat simliar. They each have unique properties that make them suitable for different patients. Suboxone is generally considered to be less addictive and safer in terms of overdose risk, while Methadone is highly effective in preventing relapses but comes with a higher risk of addiction and overdose. The choice between the two should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional, considering the individual's specific needs and circumstances.

One of the main obstacles to getting lifesaving treatment for addiction is the stigma people face. Fortunately, our society's perception is slowly starting to transform away from an outdated view of addiction as a moral failing, toward a more realistic, humane view of addiction as a complex disease that needs to be addressed with compassion, as well as modern medical care. Eliminating myths and misinformation about addiction, and supplanting them with up-to-date, evidence-based treatments, is a critical step in the evolution and improvement of addiction treatment.

For more information on treatment options and support, give us a call today.


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