Like methadone, which up until 2000 was the primary option for people seeking narcotic replacement therapy, Suboxone is a drug used to treat narcotic addiction by reducing symptoms of opiate addiction and withdrawal. Suboxone is the combination of buprephine and naloxone. Buprephine is a partial opioid agonist while Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist.
An agonist drug, like buprephine, mimics the effects of neurotransmitters naturally found in the brain, while antagonist drugs, such as naloxone, block the brains neurotransmitters. Thus, buprephine gives the patient feelings of pain relief and euphoria but at a significantly lower dosage than heroin. On the contrary, naloxone reverses and blocks the effects of the opioid medication. Although patients will still experience withdrawal symptoms on suboxone, they will be significantly less intense than if they were to quit heroin. These symptoms include mood swings, irritability, nausea, vomiting, sweating, cramping, diarrhea, and in a small number of cases, seizures, and respiratory failure.
Differences between Methadone and Suboxone
- Suboxone is a partial opiate agonist while Methadone is a full opiate agonist. Because Suboxone is a partial agonist, receptors are not activated to their full potential like they are with methadone.
- Suboxone is less addictive and harder to abuse than methadone.
- Withdrawal symptoms of Suboxone are less intense than those of methadone.
- Methadone seems to be a better option for those with heavy opiate addiction because Suboxone may not offer enough relief for the chronic user.
- There is no ceiling effect with methadone, which is why it is strictly monitored whereas with Suboxone, there are limited effects produced by the drug.
- Overdoses from methadone are higher than overdoses from Suboxone.
- Suboxone comes in tablet or film form and methadone comes in pill or liquid form.
- Both medications require a prescription but methadone is much more regulated by doctors, pharmacists and treatment centers.
Achieving Long Term Sobriety
Although suboxone and methadone can play an integral role in helping addicts wean off of heroin all together, when used for prolonged periods of time, a patient can become just as dependent on these drugs as they were on heroin. In other words, using suboxone or methadone as a means to eventually quit opiate use all together can be extremely successful. The problem arises when a patient replaces their heroin addiction with a suboxone or methadone addiction. In the end, to be clean and sober, means to be free from all forms of opiates.