How Easy Is It to Switch from Buprenorphine to Methadone?

Some people may find that buprenorphine treatment isn’t effective and may want to switch to methadone. Read on to learn more.

What is Buprenorphine and Methadone?

Both buprenorphine and methadone are opioid drugs. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic compound and methadone is a fully synthetic compound. Both drugs help prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms in those who struggle with opioid addiction.1

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

There are many different types of treatment available for those affected by addiction, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT involves using medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse during treatment. One of the most commonly used medications in MAT is buprenorphine. However, some people may find that buprenorphine treatment is not effective for them and may want to switch to methadone. This article will discuss how easy it is to switch from buprenorphine to methadone and if it is a good idea to switch between the two medications.

How is Buprenorphine and Methadone Used?

The most common methadone and buprenorphine uses are during addiction treatment. Buprenorphine and methadone may be used during addiction treatment to help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse from occurring. These drugs are often implemented as a form of drug replacement therapy to help taper someone off of another substance, such as an opioid drug.2
 Buprenorphine treatment

How Buprenorphine Works

Buprenorphine works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain. The effects of buprenorphine are weaker than other opioid drugs, which makes it a useful medication for drug replacement therapy to help someone slowly wean off of other opioid substances. There are many medical buprenorphine treatment uses, most notably that it is a safe and effective drug for addiction treatment. Common benefits of using buprenorphine drugs during treatment include:

  • Lowering the potential for misuse
  • Diminishing the effects of physical dependence to opioids
  • Increasing safety in cases of overdose or substance abuse disorder3

Buprenorphine Alcohol Treatment

There is a growing body of evidence that shows buprenorphine treatment helps people with alcohol addiction as well. It's an effective treatment, and it can be combined with counseling or therapy for the best results.

Buprenorphine Opioid Addiction Treatment

Buprenorphine is an effective treatment for opioid substance abuse disorders. It’s used to help people recover from dependency on heroin and other prescription opioid drugs. It helps patients slowly stop taking other substances in a safe and healthy manner.

The Three Phases of Buprenorphine Treatment

Buprenorphine addiction treatment will typically happen in three phases. When you or a loved one go to an addiction treatment center that uses buprenorphine treatment, they will ensure that you get the right buprenorphine dosage and will help manage any buprenorphine side effects to keep the treatment process as safe and effective as possible through each stage.

The Induction Phase

The induction phase is the beginning of buprenorphine withdrawal treatment. The induction phase must be medically supervised to ensure that there aren’t any side effects that occur and to keep the process as safe as possible. Due to buprenorphine drug interactions with other opioids, the induction phase should begin twelve to twenty-four hours after the final dose of another opioid drug has been taken.4

The Stabilization Phase

The next stage in buprenorphine treatment is stabilization. This phase typically lasts one to two months and patients will usually be seen on a weekly basis to monitor the dosage and make sure that no negative side effects are occurring. Typically, people will reduce or stop their drug usage entirely during this stage. If drug use continues, the dosage should be adjusted accordingly.

The Maintenance Phase

Once someone reaches the maintenance phase, they will remain on buprenorphine indefinitely until it is determined they can manage their addiction on their own without a high risk of relapse. Some form of counseling or therapy is important during this phase for patients to work on skills and coping mechanisms to help them learn how to manage their addiction on their own. Patients who discontinue buprenorphine use should be tapered off gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Should You Switch from Buprenorphine to Methadone?

Making a transfer from buprenorphine to methadone treatment may be a reasonable option if a patient is having side effects, or if buprenorphine treatment isn’t effective for them. However, switching between the drugs could have unseen side effects or might make addiction treatment take longer, so if buprenorphine treatment is stable and effective, it is not recommended to make the switch.

How Do You Switch from Buprenorphine to Methadone?

In order to switch from buprenorphine to methadone treatment, buprenorphine and opioid drugs must be tapered off and stopped completely. Once a patient has completely stopped taking buprenorphine for two days, then methadone treatment can begin.

 
This is due to the buprenorphine half-life, as the patient needs to ensure that buprenorphine is entirely out of the system before starting methadone treatments instead. This will prevent any methadone side effects or drug interactions from occurring and will help stabilize the patient before moving forward with continuing treatment.  

Side Effects of Methadone and Buprenorphine

Common side effects of methadone and buprenorphine include:

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

Although there can be side effects to taking these drugs, both methadone and buprenorphine can be very effective in addiction treatment. If you or a loved one are receiving buprenorphine or methadone treatment from a treatment center, treatment professionals will help ensure that you are as safe and comfortable during the treatment process.

 Buprenorphine treatment

Is Methadone Stronger Than Buprenorphine?

While buprenorphine and methadone side effects may differ slightly, studies have shown that both drugs are equally as effective in addiction treatment and a dose of each substance has approximately the same effectiveness. Methadone has been around for much longer than buprenorphine, generally making it the more popular choice for addiction treatment centers to use. However, buprenorphine still is able to help patients with substance abuse treatment.5

Get Help at San Diego Detox

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and have been prescribed buprenorphine, it may be a reasonable option to switch to methadone treatment if you are experiencing side effects or if the buprenorphine treatment is not effective. San Diego Detox can help make this transition as smooth as possible for you. Our team of experts will work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs and helps you overcome your addiction. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.

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