On the surface, both drugs are similar in the sense that they both treat patients who have a dependency on opioids or certain drug additions. Interestingly enough, both suboxone and methadone are opioid drugs as well. Suboxone is known as a partial opiate agonist or one that has limited effects even when taken in larger doses. Methadone however is a full opiate which means that the more you take, the greater the effects will be.
The history of methadone does back to 1947 when it was first introduced to the public. Methadone was the standard for treatment until the emergence of suboxone in 2002. Up until that point, the issues with methadone in terms of addiction were very well known and there were searches for alternatives that provided the same effectiveness as methadone without the addictive aspects. Suboxone arguably is that alternative, although it is also not totally free of addictive qualities.
Similarities and Differences
Perhaps the biggest difference between the drugs is that suboxone is far harder to abuse than methadone. This is one reason why suboxone is a drug that is often prescribed over methadone in that it reduces the chances of addiction to another drug. Methadone can be abused rather readily which is why in many cases the drug itself is not prescribed for the patient to take home, but rather to go to the clinic or hospital to take there instead. After a time if no addictive effects are reported, then the methadone is allowed to be prescribed for home use.
However, while suboxone is less addictive in nature than methadone, it is also less effective against people who have a serious addiction. Those with heavy opiate habits already are hard pressed to have suboxone have any real effect on them. Methadone is far better at reaching them thanks to its inherent strength, but that also runs the danger of becoming addicted to methadone as well.
Suboxone does excel in the fact that the withdrawal symptoms during the detox period are far less than methadone which makes it more suitable for patients who are not looking forward to that part of their treatment. However, the biggest advantage that suboxone offers is that the risk of a fatal overdose is far less than methadone which does make it safer to use as an at-home prescription.
Methadone however may be more effective than suboxone in what it is trying to accomplish, but its qualities are such that it can also be quite dangerous when abused. Interestingly enough, methadone is cheaper than suboxone and generics are available as well which makes it even more affordable.
Overall, suboxone is the drug preferred because it does have far fewer addicting qualities and is much harder to abuse that methadone. However, for the hard-core drug user suboxone just may not be enough and they may be forced to use methadone instead from their doctor’s office. The bottom line is that you will need to talk to your doctor about which one may work best for your needs.