Is buprenorphine the same as methadone? Some people believe that buprenorphine and methadone are the same thing. In fact, there are people who say that buprenorphine is just like heroin. It is dangerous to create confusion on this point.
First, buprenorphine is not at all like heroin. The two drugs are similar only in that they are both classified as opioids. The similarities end there. Heroin is a potent, illegal street drug that is often sold dirty, contaminated with dangerous fentanyl analogs.
Buprenorphine is a safe and effective opioid blocker that partially activates the receptor while blocking it. It is a legal treatment for opioid addiction and patients are able to return to normal functioning in a short time after starting treatment. Comparing this life-saving treatment to heroin is dangerous in that it may discourage patients from getting appropriate medical treatment for opioid addiction.
What about methadone vs Suboxone? Are they alike at all? These two addiction treatment medications do, in fact, have a couple of things in common. First, they are both classified as opioids, though I believe we should again point out that buprenorphine almost does not deserve this dubious distinction since it is primarily a blocker and only a partial activator of the receptor. Second, both drugs are used in treatment protocols for opioid addiction.
The similarities mostly end there. Methadone is a powerful and dangerous opioid. While it has a high success rate, its dangerous nature necessitates that patients come in daily for treatment and take their daily dose under observation. Suboxone, on the other hand, can be prescribed on a weekly or monthly basis. There is even a six month implant. Being a far safer medication, doctors can prescribe Suboxone for longer periods of time and patients can pick up their medication at their local pharmacy. It can even be delivered to them at home.
In conclusion, we can say with certainty that buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, is not the same as methadone. However, these two drugs do make up two-thirds of the treatment drugs available to doctors to administer for long-term treatment of opioid use disorder, the third being naltrexone. Each drug has its place and it is important that doctors are able to still utilize them when needed. Every patient is different and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. By having more tools available, we can better customize treatment plans to the individual patient.