Switching Opioid Use Disorders (OUD) Treatments

Switching Treatments for Opioid Use Disorders
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From Methadone to Suboxone

One of the most effective methods to treat individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) is methadone. It is a highly preferred medication-assisted treatment, which is FDA approved, that is used by practitioners to help individuals limit opioid use and withdraw from it without experiencing the usual agonizing withdrawal symptoms. Methadone, combined with professional counseling and behavioral therapies, is the most common treatment method offered by most opioid treatment programs across the country.

Methadone is a pain reliever. Its single dose can alleviate the pain of an individual for up to 4-8 hours. It is usually prescribed to be taken once a day in a pill, liquid or wafer form and has the potential to create pain relief without a strong euphoria. However, methadone can still have the potential to be addictive, which is why it is only given under a doctor’s supervision. It also can only be distributed through a certified licensed opioid treatment program.

Methadone treatment might not be ideal for everyone; your practitioner should help you in identifying the best medication-assisted treatment for your OUD. Methadone is usually prescribed for individuals who are dependent on long-acting opioid, whereas the individuals with a dependence on short-acting opioid are usually prescribed with Suboxone.

Suboxone is also a preferred treatment method for individuals who can take medication regularly and on time, commit to attend the related therapies and counseling sessions, follow-up with their provider as required, refrain from consuming alcohol with the medication, and be strong enough to not misuse the medication.

Apart from the above-mentioned reasons, certain individuals on methadone might want to switch to Suboxone due to the following:

  • They might be facing side effects due to methadone and may prefer Suboxone for fewer side effects.
  • They may have recovered to a certain extent, where methadone treatment is no longer needed or where Suboxone can be used instead.
  • The methadone doses are metabolizing quicker.
  • Suboxone medication is convenient, as they can be taken at home after a few sessions of taking it under a doctor’s supervision.

Whatever the reason may be, switching from methadone to Suboxone is quite complicated, as there is the possibility of the individual withdrawing from methadone medication due to its higher receptor affinity. Therefore, you should seek the advice and guidance of a professional before you attempt to switch from methadone to Suboxone. In most instances, practitioners will recommend you to reduce methadone doses or discontinue it completely for several days before transitioning to Suboxone medication.

Methadone to Subutex

Subutex is also a medicine that is used extensively to treat OUD and is somewhat similar to Suboxone. Both Suboxone and Subutex contain buprenorphine; however, Subutex contains only buprenorphine, whereas Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine/Subutex/Suboxone is a newly approved medicine for OUD and is used both during and after the process of detoxification in treating OUD. Subutex is a long-acting medication that is known to provide stable, low-level activation of opioid receptors in the brain and hence, prevents the agonizing withdrawal symptoms and cravings in a person.

As in the case of Suboxone, Subutex might be prescribed for individuals instead of methadone for various reasons. An individual who might be dependent on short-acting opioid and can take medications and attend the related therapies/consulting sessions on time is more suitable to take Subutex instead of methadone. Apart from this, practitioners may also prescribe you to switch from methadone to Subutex for the various reasons addressed above under Suboxone.

You should seek the guidance and supervision of a professional when switching from methadone to Subutex or when taking Subutex alone for your OUD, as consuming Subutex doses improperly may cause withdrawal or over-dosage.

Low-dose Subutex treatment has led towards a low retention of patients in comparison to methadone treatment and a higher dosage treatment of it has shown a higher retention of patients. High-dose Subutex treatment has also shown similar rates of relapse and heroin use during treatments as compared to methadone, making it one of the preferable options for some patients. One noteworthy aspect of taking Subutex is that it is comparatively safer than methadone, and certified physicians can prescribe it to individuals in a regular medical office/space.

If you or your loved ones are interested in learning more information about switching treatments for opioid use disorder, please contact us today

Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 28,000 patients daily in California, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. With more than 110 community-based locations, Pinnacle provides a full continuum of quality care for adult men and women which includes medically-monitored detoxification/withdrawal management, inpatient/residential treatment, partial hospitalization/care, sober living, intensive and general outpatient programming, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. For more information, visit pinnacletreatment.com or call 800-782-1520.

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The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.