Buprenorphine and methadone are both drugs that are used to help people recover from opioid addiction. Both substances are legal and are sold under a variety of brand names. However, it is important to understand the differences between buprenorphine vs. methadone and the advantages and disadvantages that are inherent in both substances.
How Buprenorphine and Methadone Work
Buprenorphine functions by influencing the brain of the addict in the same manner as cravings, but will not give them the high which is commonly experienced with opioids. Buprenorphine also has a limit which means that regardless of how much you consume, you won’t be able to obtain a larger high.
Methadone, on the other hand, assists the addict’s brain in becoming normalized. It is an opioid and will influence the same regions of the brain as heroin but won’t provide the same high or euphoria. This makes methadone highly effective for recovering heroin addicts and can reduce their desire to seek the drug. Methadone is much older than buprenorphine and was first released in the United States in 1947.
Differences Between Buprenorphine and Methadone
While there are a number of similarities between these two substances, there are some differences as well. Buprenorphine is equally effective to moderate amounts of methadone. At the same time, since buprenorphine is not likely to be as effective as methadone in larger dosages then it may not be the best choice in treating recovering addicts that have extreme levels of dependency. Methadone may also be consumed more frequently than buprenorphine, every 8 to 12 hours in many cases. Buprenorphine may be taken daily or once every other day.
Advantages And Disadvantages of Buprenorphine and Methadone
Some have stated that methadone is merely an addiction replacement, as it often must be taken for years by recovering addicts. However, supporters of methadone point out that the drug doesn’t have the dangerous effects of illegal opioids and can keep recovering addicts in treatment longer, which keeps them from harming themselves or others.
Buprenorphine has been criticized for being too expensive, so much so that it is sometimes referred to as “methadone for rich guys.” However, the advantage of buprenorphine is that it is ideal for patients who don’t need to travel to a methadone clinic, or who don’t have extreme levels of opioid dependency. Treatment through buprenorphine is far more convenient than methadone, and as a consequence has become popular among those that can afford its higher price tag.
Precautions To Remember When Using Buprenorphine and Methadone
Under no circumstances should methadone be combined with barbiturates or alcohol, and patients should always follow the guidelines of their doctor when using it. Buprenorphine must be stored correctly at all times, particularly if there are children or teenagers present in the home. There have been unfortunate cases where children have confused buprenorphine with being candy, and have taken it. Those who overdose from buprenorphine may display a rapid heart rate, coma, vomiting or even death from ingesting just a few pills. Mixing either of these drugs with the wrong substances can cause severe respiratory problems.