What’s The Difference Between Suboxone and Methadone?

What’s The Difference Between Suboxone and Methadone?

Opioid addiction is an epidemic in America that affects millions of people. When it comes time for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) the two main options doctors use are Suboxone and Methadone. For over 60 years, professionals have treated addiction with controlled medications.

Both of these treatments reduce the cravings for opioids and change the mind’s relationship to drugs. However, Methadone and Suboxone therapy both operate differently and affect the body in unique ways.

This article will take a deep dive into everything you need to know about these medications and explain how they could help you or a loved one suffering from addiction. 

Drug Information

While Methadone and Suboxone look to accomplish the same goal — total recovery — they go about it in different ways, and it is important to understand the similarities and differences. Read below to learn more about these two drugs. 

What Is Methadone?

Methadone, sold under the brand names Dolophine and Methadose, is a full opioid agonist. The medication has been approved for use in the USA since 1947 to remove the pain and cravings involved in withdrawal as an important step in opioid addiction treatment.

As a full agonist, Methadone therapy provides a similar euphoria to the high of a drug like heroin by filling in the brain’s opioid receptors. As a result, patients can unfortunately develop an addiction to Methadone.

Once a person becomes addicted to Methadone and abuses it, the recovery process can become just as involved as the initial treatment for opioid addiction.

What Is Suboxone?

A controlled substance, Suboxone is the brand name for the drug buprenorphine-naloxone, which is a partial opioid agonist. A much newer treatment, Suboxone has been approved since 2002 as a less habit-forming alternative to Methadone. 

Instead of completely filling the brain’s opioid receptor, buprenorphine only partially fills it, thus reducing positive feelings and making the patient feel leveled out during withdrawal. Feeling normal lowers the chances of both withdrawal and overdoses and speeds up the recovery process. 

Buprenorphine-naloxone treatment eliminates pain and cravings that manifest in the brain without replacing them with another medically induced high.

Cost and Insurance

Recovery does not have to be prohibitively expensive. With insurance and comprehensive treatment programs, help can be accessible to all.


Generally, the cheaper option of the two, Methadone treatment can be covered by insurance in the right circumstances. Medicare and Medicaid both cover Methadone. 

The price of Methadone depends on whether the person is receiving inpatient or outpatient treatment. A single weekly dose for an outpatient generally costs around $150, but for those in recovery centers, the price can be much higher as it is included as part of a comprehensive program. 


The average retail price of prescription Suboxone runs up to $200. However, the generic version of buprenorphine-naloxone can cost as little as $25. All of these prices will also be adjusted with the added benefit of insurance. 

While the price can be higher for individual tablets, you won’t need to check into a facility to reap all the benefits, thus saving money.

Medication Access

For some people, the ease of getting hold of a medication can be a factor in whether it fits into their treatment plan. Find out how accessible these medications are below. 


Methadone is only available from select pharmacies and treatment centers. Speak to your physician to find the nearest participating location.

When a person begins Methadone for addiction treatment, the first tablet or injection will always be under the close supervision of a licensed medical professional. Only once you receive a doctor’s permission will you be able to start taking Methadone at home in between visits to a clinic.

Methadone treatment is available either in at-home tablet form or administered at a center in IV form. The most common dose is a 10 mg tablet.


Suboxone is available at all pharmacies, and all you will need is a prescription from your physician and specific instructions on dosage.

While a professional may want to supervise your initial dosage to observe your body’s reaction, a tablet can be taken at home without complications. Proper maintenance of buprenorphine treatment can be easily managed without oversight. 

Commonly found in tablet form, a Suboxone dose usually contains 2 mg buprenorphine and 0.5 mg naloxone. It also comes in a soluble tablet that can be dissolved in water.


Methadone and Suboxone can both be life-changing treatments for those in need. Understand how each choice can aid your recovery.


Once hailed as a cure-all painkiller during WWII, Methadone is a medication that has been proven to treat chronic discomfort. In recent years, it has been essential in many narcotic addiction treatment programs.

Methadone is an important stepping stone in building a sober life for people affected by addiction. In combination with therapy and mental health treatment programs, it can start to make noticeable changes in as little as 1 to 2 weeks.

Methadone allows the brain to think clearly without the barrier of cravings and desire to use again. Patients often have better social interactions and feel that they’ve made steps in their recovery almost immediately after their first dose.


A major benefit of Suboxone therapy is that any doctor can write a prescription for it without the prerequisite of visiting an addiction treatment center. Opening up accessibility allows more people in need to get the medication they need faster. This makes the at-home maintenance of recovery much easier.

Suboxone treatment has a high success rate when it comes to overcoming addiction and drug abuse. But perhaps the most important reason people chose Suboxone over Methadone is that it has a much lower chance of addiction and ongoing dependence. 

Buprenorphine-naloxone does not replace the high of heroin with another high, but completely neutralizes the high which makes the brain feel calm while in recovery. Patients who fear feeling out of control while in recovery often report an even-handed mind while on Suboxone.

Side Effects

Both Methadone and Suboxone have dangerous side effects that need to be taken seriously. Learn all the risks before beginning your treatment.


Classified in America as a Schedule II drug, Methadone has serious risks when it comes to an overdose or abuse. 

The side effects are often the same ones you would find in most opioid drug abuse, including:

• Constipation

• Nausea

• Drowsiness

• Poor coordination

• Difficulty with memory and cognition

In the event of an overdose, call 911 immediately. 


Side effects of Suboxone treatment range from mild to serious in the event of an overdose. 

Patients have reported the following side effects:

• Back pain

• Painful tongue

• Vomiting

• Sleepiness

• Blurry vision

About 1 in 10 patients also experience Respiratory Depression as a side effect, which is when the body does not take in enough oxygen and breathing becomes strained and shallow. Respiratory Depression is most common in those who misuse or abuse Suboxone by taking more than the prescribed dose. Contact emergency services immediately if you experience this symptom.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Coming off of Methadone and Suboxone needs to be done slowly and with care. Rushing the weaning process could lead to further complications.


Withdrawal side effects usually begin to appear in as little as 24 hours after Methadone wears off. This detox needs to be supervised by a physician within a treatment program to ensure relapses do not occur in the midst of pain. 

Most people on Methadone experience the following withdrawal symptoms in the first days of withdrawal:

• Anxiety

• Restlessness

• Trouble sleeping

• Excessive sweating

• Watery eyes

These side effects can worsen after 3 days until they culminate in:

• Depression

• Cravings for opiates

• Muscle aches

But after about two weeks of detoxification, these side effects lessen and the body readjusts.


Suboxone generally is not as addictive as Methadone and the detox process can be easier on the body. It can also take place outside of a rehabilitation center, even if it takes a comparable amount of time. For those in recovery from opioid use, Suboxone withdrawal is far more manageable than Methadone withdrawal.

The early side effects of anxiety, cramps, and trouble sleeping are followed by severe depression and mood swings. Some patients report having cravings for about a month after quitting abruptly, or ‘going cold turkey.’

The craving symptoms can cause a sudden relapse leading to an overdose, so it is always recommended to slowly cut back on dosages.

With proper therapy and care, the withdrawal symptoms can be very manageable.

Take Back Control

When it comes to deciding between Suboxone vs Methadone for addiction treatment, you will want to work with a treatment center that has experience in the maintenance of both. The consequences of opioid use are life-threatening, so put your body in good hands.

If you or a loved one are currently struggling with heroin or opioid addiction, you do not have to experience it alone. Trust the Master Center to be your guide on the road to recovery out of substance abuse.

Our treatment center programs combine Medication-Assisted Treatment with holistic mental health plans tailored to every client. At the Master Center, you are never just a number but are treated with respect and individualized care.

Take control of your life and start your recovery now — book an appointment today.