You have been doing well with your recovery. After getting mixed up with the wrong crowd at your job, you found yourself using any opioids you could get your hands on. The path to recovery was rough, and after legal troubles, failed relationships, and losing more jobs than you can count, you found yourself in a program that saw you as a person and treated you with respect.
Even though your recovery has been going smoothly these past months, you wonder what the future looks like. Currently, methadone is a part of your treatment regime, and you don’t really know what the next steps are for you. Would it be possible to switch to Suboxone in hopes of eventually not taking anything? How long after methadone can you take suboxone?
In 2017, 6,650 Virginia residents were taking methadone in a single day, while 2,601 were taking Suboxone. These numbers are thought to be much higher – especially in recent years – as many people choose not to report they are in a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. At ReVIDA® Recovery, we have seen firsthand just how helpful MAT can be and have witnessed many find recovery where they were unable to before. Our program is flexible and works with each individual so they can receive the treatment they need while managing their responsibilities. How do you know what treatment path is right for you? Is methadone better than Suboxone? Let’s take a look at both medications further.
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How Long After Taking Methadone Can I Take Suboxone?
There is no set timeline for patients who wish to switch from methadone to Suboxone. There are many factors that can affect how long or short the timeline is, such as:
- Dosage – those taking higher doses of methadone will need to taper before switching to Suboxone. This can take time and will be performed at your treatment physician’s discretion. Also, the frequency of the dose will play a role.
- Body weight – those with higher body fat percentages tend to flush methadone from the system at slower rates. This is also true for those with slower metabolisms.
- Liver function – if the liver is not functioning properly, it will take longer to metabolize methadone. This can increase the amount of time it remains in the system.
It is possible to stop taking methadone “cold turkey” and switch to Suboxone right away. However, this is NOT recommended outside of a medical setting as this switch can cause severe withdrawal symptoms at a rapid rate. Suboxone contains naloxone, an opioid antagonist. This means that naloxone works by blocking opioids from reaching the receptors in the brain. The brain essentially goes into overdrive, attempting to find balance without opioids being present, which triggers withdrawal to occur. For those in recovery, experiencing a sudden withdrawal can be especially dangerous, as cravings will come on suddenly and intensely. The risk of a return to use is extremely high, which is why it is necessary to talk with your doctor and slowly switch from methadone to Suboxone.
Why Do Patients Switch From Methadone To Suboxone?
Patients can have different reasons for wanting to switch from methadone to Suboxone. One reason could be they are facing stigma from friends, family, or coworkers. The stigma surrounding methadone is that it is “replacing one drug for another.” The fact of the matter is that this is simply untrue, and many are not aware of the benefits of MAT. Many studies have proven statistically how helpful methadone and Suboxone treatments are, especially in preventing overdoses.
Another reason behind switching can involve convenience. Methadone can only be dispensed in a clinic, while Suboxone can be administered at home. Being able to arrange daily clinic visits and trying to plan work, school, and family schedules can be difficult.
Let’s take a look at some benefits of switching from methadone to Suboxone.
Fewer Side Effects
Both methadone and Suboxone can cause unpleasant side effects. Some of these include:
These side effects can depend on dosage and how long you have been taking the medication. The biggest side effect difference is experiencing withdrawal. Methadone is a full opioid agonist, meaning it produces similar effects to prescription opioids. When a dose is missed, withdrawal symptoms can be moderate to severe, and lead to cravings. Suboxone is only a partial opioid agonist, and missing a dose typically only causes mild, more manageable withdrawal symptoms.
The main health benefit of both Suboxone and methadone is preventing overdoses. Long-term, however, Suboxone has fewer health risks than methadone. Methadone can cause irregular heart rhythm, breathing problems, severe stomach pain, and seizures. Suboxone has shown less severe long-term side effects, and may cause breathing problems and low blood pressure.
Lower Risk Of Misuse
There is a lower risk of misuse with Suboxone than there is with methadone. Suboxone has a “ceiling effect,” meaning it is not possible to increase its effects after taking a dose. Also, Suboxone contains naloxone, and if a person tries to misuse Suboxone – for example by injection instead of taking it by mouth – the naloxone will block the effects altogether. Methadone has similar properties to prescription opioids such as oxycodone, and can be misused to increase its effects. It is more common to see people misuse methadone than it is Suboxone.
What To Expect During The Transition From Methadone To Suboxone
During the transition from methadone to Suboxone, you can expect some discomfort. Your body is used to having a form of opioid within the system at certain intervals, and changing that will cause some symptoms of withdrawal to appear. You will be under a doctor’s supervision and discretion, and they will be able to help you navigate the process while you transition. It is important to have a strong support system in place that you can turn to if the discomfort affects your mental health. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or member of your care team if you are having concerns about a return to use.
How Hard Is It To Switch From Methadone To Suboxone?
Switching from methadone to Suboxone can be difficult depending on the dose amount and length of use. It is important to note that switching between the two can take weeks or even months, and some do not want to experience discomfort for that amount of time. Studies have shown that it is possible to switch right away from methadone to Suboxone, but it is recommended to be done in an inpatient setting with 24-hour supervision.
How Do I Switch From Methadone To Suboxone?
The only recommended way to switch from methadone to Suboxone is under a doctor’s supervision. They can answer any questions and concerns you may have and be able to help you choose the treatment path that best works for you. It is never recommended to stop taking your medication without discussing first. Side effects of stopping can lead to a return to use, and a possible overdose.
Suboxone Treatment In Duffield, VA
Medication-assisted treatment is a helpful tool for anyone who wants to address their opioid use disorder. Whether you or a loved one have tried other methods and not succeeded, there is hope and help still available. Suboxone treatment can make a difference and help you reclaim your life and begin healing. There are programs available that work with you to make sure you can accomplish your responsibilities while still receiving the life-changing treatment you need.
Finding Suboxone treatment has never been easier. ReVIDA® Recovery has locations throughout Virginia and Tennessee ready to help you reclaim your life today. With same-day appointments, there is no need to wait to begin now. We believe in putting you first, and our caring team will guide you in finding what works for you. Call us today at 423-631-0432 to learn more about our program options.