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Is There a Difference Between Buprenorphine and Methadone?

Last updated: Thursday, 06, August 2020

According to the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practices, methadone is the most commonly used drug for treating heroin dependence within the UK, USA, and Australia. Methadone is a full opioid agonist and the effects are similar to heroin. In fact, overdose-related deaths because of methadone, due to respiratory depression are a significant problem. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist and has become commonly used as a treatment for opioid addiction. Buprenorphine and the combination of buprenorphine/naloxone are used within both an inpatient and outpatient setting. Methadone and buprenorphine are similar to how they are used in the medical field. However, the potency of both drugs is far different. Both methadone and buprenorphine are used to treat mild to chronic pain, and opioid dependence. Methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance and buprenorphine is a Schedule III controlled substance. The difference with how they are classified is because of the drug's risk for abuse and addiction. Both drugs have the potential to cause dependency, leading to addiction. Addiction and dependency are two different things, for example, someone can be dependent on prescription drugs without being addicted to them.

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When you are dependent on a drug, your body is unable to function without it and you require a doctor to taper you off or go through medical detox. Addiction occurs when you have uncontrollable urges and cravings to use the drug, despite the consequences. Addicts ignore all the consequences connected to their actions and will continue using despite having no money, being charged with a crime, or being estranged from their family and friends. Methadone would cause a more serious dependency than buprenorphine, and both drugs are used illegally by addicts. Methadone is prescribed as an oral tablet, oral solution, oral concentrate, injectable solution, and oral dispersible tablet. Buprenorphine is prescribed in many of the same ways for a patient. There is also a restriction on how these medications are accessed. Methadone is used to treat chronic pain and is available at some pharmacies, but not all. Methadone and buprenorphine are used to help a patient through an opioid detox.

Methadone can only be gotten from a certified opioid treatment program, such as a methadone maintenance clinic. A patient will have to go to one of these clinics, and the doctor must observe them taking the dose. Buprenorphine can be given as a prescription and does not need to be taken within a clinic. However, when you start taking buprenorphine, your treatment is monitored closely by the prescribing doctor. The common side effects caused by methadone and buprenorphine are similar, along with many of the serious side effects. This would include addiction, severe breathing problems, heart, and allergic reactions. Both drugs are opioids, and like any other opioid, there are withdrawal symptoms. This would include shaking, sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches and pains, and hot or cold flashes. Medical detox programs can help users of either drug safely stop taking them. It is never recommended that you abruptly stop the use of either buprenorphine or methadone.


Nickolaus Hayes - Author

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