Buprenorphine and Suboxone in Opioid Addiction Treatment

methadoneblog4Suboxone® (a branded medication of Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals) is a relatively newer opioid replacement therapy consisting of a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is the generic, active ingredient in Suboxone that provides extended relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that deters abuse of suboxone by injection.

Methadone and buprenorphine are the only two opioid medications which are FDA-approved for the treatment of opioid addiction. While they achieve the same end, they have significant differences. Buprenorphine can be administered in a physician's office, and is considered safer than methadone. However, buprenorphine is a "partial" opioid and provides little benefit beyond the maximum dose of 24 mg. This is sufficient for many opioid dependent persons and will provide substantial relief.

Methadone, by contrast, is more powerful and does not have the same ceiling effect of buprenorphine. Some clients find that they are more comfortable on methadone. It is not easy to predict which clients can be effectively maintained on buprenorphine. Some individuals have started on methadone for maintenance, but then later switched to buprenorphine to complete their medication taper.

Currently, Suboxone costs more than methadone. For this reason, many seeking opioid replacement therapy will choose methadone. There is some opinion that longer term opioid addicts tend to stabilize better on methadone over buprenorphine (Suboxone). In the end, the choice of which replacement medication to go with is best determined by the client and their physician. What is most important … is to seek help as soon as possible.