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Suboxone vs Methadone

May 28, 2022


Both Suboxone and Methadone are FDA-approved medications used to treat opioid addiction. There are some important distinctions to be made between the two, such as their strength, side effects, and regulation.

As a primarily Suboxone treatment center, IHAT does not administer methadone. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the two and why Suboxone is our medication-assisted treatment drug of choice.


Unlike methadone, which is a full agonist, Suboxone is only a partial agonist opioid. 

As a partial agonist, it still activates the opioid receptors in the brain, binding to receptors known as mu receptors. However, it’s done so to a much lesser degree than a full agonist. 

Suboxone consists of two primary ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. It is the buprenorphine within Suboxone that is the partial agonist and binds to these receptors. Naloxone, on the other hand, is an opioid antagonist, working to prevent the Suboxone itself from being abused.

Suboxone can be administered in an outpatient setting, which means you do not have to be in the office for each treatment setting. Suboxone was created in 2002 as a reaction to the growing concerns about methadone.


As a full agonist, methadone changes how the brain and nervous system react to pain. Due to its potential for abuse, it is highly regulated and can only be administered at a treatment center in most cases. It can be considered a double-edged sword as it is both very effective and comes with strong side effects and withdrawals if not tapered off. The CDC estimates that up to 30% of all prescription painkiller related deaths are tied to methadone.

Doug Choate

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