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What’s the Difference Between Methadone and Suboxone?

Suboxone and methadone are two different medications that are both used to treat opioid use disorder. 

  1. Suboxone is a combination of two medications: buprenorphine and naloxone.
    1. Buprenorphine is a partial-agonist opioid used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 
    2. Naloxone is an opioid blocker added to discourage abuse.
  2. Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to reduce cravings and withdrawals.

Is Suboxone the same as methadone?

No, but they share many similarities in treating the same condition, opioid use disorder.

How Suboxone and Methadone Work in the Brain

Empty Opioid Recptor in the Brain
Methadone and Suboxone Going into Opioid Receptors

What is the difference between methadone and Suboxone?

Even though both help people with opioid use disorder, they are different medications.

MechanismFull opioid (agonist)Partial opioid (agonist)
Route of AdministrationOral (Dissolvable tablet, Pill, Liquid)Film dissolved in mouth
Oral Pill
Injection in stomach (Subloclade)
DosingDailyDaily for film / pill
Monthly for injection
Available for Substance UseSpecialized Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) licenseDoctors that apply for specialized certification

Methadone is only dispensed at a methadone clinic.

Because it’s a full-agonist opioid, methadone is tightly regulated. Patients must report to a methadone clinic to get their dose dispensed to them. After several months of success, patients take home more methadone dosage over time and the requirement for check-ins end up similar to Suboxone eventually.

See also: What is a Methadone Clinic?

Suboxone can be filled at the pharmacy like any other medication, but pharmacies too often refuse to provide Suboxone. A Suboxone clinic can dispense onsite. 

See also: What is a Suboxone Clinic?

Suboxone is usually the first choice.

Suboxone is usually the first choice for opioid use disorder because it’s people are less likely to abuse it and the naloxone blocker prevents overdose in case they do. However, methadone has been successfully treating opioid addiction for years and is a good option if you’ve already had success with it. Some switch to methadone if they haven’t been successful with Suboxone or want the extra daily accountability.

Suboxone vs. Methadone FAQs

No, they are different medications with different ingredients. 

  1. Methadone only has one ingredient, methadone hydrochloride. 
  2. Suboxone is a combination of two medications, buprenorphine and naloxone.
It could be said that methadone is stronger since the medication fully activates the opioid receptor while Suboxone only partially activates it. Though, both medications satisfy the brain’s craving for opioids.  

Suboxone and methadone have similar side effects, including:

  • Constipation 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Respiratory distress
  • Double-vision

The biggest difference is that Suboxone doesn’t cause the feel-good, euphoric feelings of traditional opioids. It’s less intense than heroin or fentanyl, but you can get high off of methadone, which is why it’s given only at a clinic.

See also: Methadone Side Effects

Methadone and Suboxone are equally effective at treating opioid use disorder, though one study showed individuals on low doses of Suboxone (6 mg or less) are less likely to stay in treatment compared those taking methadone.

Can you take methadone and Suboxone together?

No, you have to choose either Suboxone or methadone. Combining both medications is dangerous because both are opioids and because Suboxone contains naloxone, an opioid blocker. 

This combination could cause an opioid / methadone overdose, but will more likely lead to severe precipitated withdrawal symptoms.

Combining Suboxone with methadone will not give you a high or relief, but will likely cause you to feel absolutely terrible including 10/10 body pain and vomiting. 

Should you switch from methadone to Suboxone?

If a patient is successfully treating their opioid addiction with methadone, there is no need to switch to Suboxone. But, if they continue to relapse or are non-compliant with the methadone program, Suboxone may be a better fit.

How To Switch From Methadone To Suboxone

A patient’s methadone dose should be tapered down to 30mg before starting Suboxone and Suboxone shouldn’t be taken until at least 24 hours after the last dose of methadone.
Those on a low methadone dosage can usually transition without noticing an increase in symptoms or cravings. In one study, all 25 out of 25 participants transitioned successfully.
That said, withdrawals often lead to relapse, so the switch should be carefully coordinated by your doctor(s). 

Should you switch from Suboxone to methadone?

It’s not as common to switch from Suboxone to methadone, but can be a good option when patient’s aren’t successful on Suboxone

How To Switch From Suboxone To Methadone

Switching from Suboxone to methadone is easier because methadone does not have an opioid blocker. Methadone should be started 24 hours after the last dose of Suboxone. The initial dose of methadone will be adjusted based on the patient’s last Suboxone dose. 

See also: How to Get Off Suboxone

Discuss Your Medication Options

Symetria is a top-rated medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic, with locations throughout Chicago, as well as Fort Worth and Houston. All locations are in-network with insurances and offer both Suboxone and Methadone. 

Get Methadone or Suboxone Here

If you don’t happen to live in Illinois or Texas, try calling the number on the back of your insurance card. If you don’t have insurance, visit and type in your zip code. Then, on the next page, use the free or slider scale filters.

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What to Read Next

The physicians at Symetria cite only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed journals, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the field.

Bell, J., & Zador, D. (2000). A risk-benefit analysis of methadone maintenance treatment. Drug safety, 22(3), 179–190.

Bhatia, G., & Sarkar, S. (2020). Sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone precipitated withdrawal-A case report with review of literature and clinical considerations. Asian journal of psychiatry, 53, 102121.

Casadonte, P. (2013). Transfer from Methadone to Buprenorphine. Providers Clinical Support System.

Durrani M, Bansal K. Methadone. [Updated 2022 Jan 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:

Grissinger M. Keeping patients safe from methadone overdoses. P T. 2011;36(8):462-466.

Jaffe, J. H., & O’Keeffe, C. (2003). From morphine clinics to buprenorphine: regulating opioid agonist treatment of addiction in the United States. Drug and alcohol dependence, 70(2 Suppl), S3–S11.

Lintzeris, N., Monds, L. A., Rivas, C., Leung, S., Dunlop, A., Newcombe, D., Walters, C., Galea, S., White, N., Montebello, M., Demirkol, A., Swanson, N., & Ali, R. (2018). Transferring Patients From Methadone to Buprenorphine: The Feasibility and Evaluation of Practice Guidelines. Journal of addiction medicine, 12(3), 234–240.

NIDA. 2021, April 13. How much does opioid treatment cost?. Retrieved from on 2022, February 1

NIDA. 2021, December 3. How effective are medications to treat opioid use disorder?. Retrieved from on 2022, February 1

Salsitz, E. A., Holden, C. C., Tross, S., & Nugent, A. (2010). Transitioning stable methadone maintenance patients to buprenorphine maintenance. Journal of addiction medicine, 4(2), 88–92.

Shulman, M., Wai, J. M., & Nunes, E. V. (2019). Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: An Overview. CNS drugs, 33(6), 567–580.

(2022, January 1). Methadone (Oral Route). Mayo Clinic.

(2022, January 24). Buprenorphine. SAMHSA.

All content is for informational purposes only. No material on this site, whether from our doctors or the community, is a substitute for seeking personalized professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard advice from a qualified healthcare professional or delay seeking advice because of something you read on this website.

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