As you might be aware, there’s not a strong perception regarding methadone and Suboxone clinics, neither from the medical community nor the general public. Still, many people rely on the services of these clinics, and the treatment helps keep them alive rather than descend farther down the rabbit hole of continued heroin or prescription opioid use.
So when you hear the term “opioid detox,” do you associate it with methadone and Suboxone clinics? Continue reading to learn that there is a vast difference between these two types of treatments, even if methadone and Suboxone medications are sometimes used in opioid detox programs.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a synthetic drug from the opioid family of narcotics. Although methadone does have some pain-relieving effects, doctors primarily prescribe this drug to treat addictions to other opioids, namely heroin. Common methadone brand names include Methadose and Dolophine.
German scientists first concocted the chemical structure of methadone in the 1930s as an alternative to morphine. However, its use in the United States didn’t take off until the mid-1960s, when the medical community began to realize the drug’s effects in treating heroin cravings and withdrawal symptoms, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research.
The difference between methadone and heroin is that the former is much less likely to induce a “high” or any euphoric effects. Its overdose risk is also lower. However, it is an addictive drug in its own right.
Methadone is a Schedule II drug on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list, along with other opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Methadone is slowly falling out of favor when treating opioid addiction, as doctors and addiction specialists are trying different kinds of medications and natural methods to help people overcome their dependence on pain-relieving narcotics.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is the brand name of the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid that dates back to 1966, although it wouldn’t be mass manufactured for another 30 years. Suboxone and Subutex (a sublingual tablet containing buprenorphine only) didn’t obtain FDA approval in the U.S. until 2002.
Suboxone has an even lower chance than methadone of inducing euphoric effects. Thus, its potential for addiction is lower, too. Like methadone, Suboxone also carries a lower overdose risk than a drug like heroin. In fact, the naloxone in Suboxone is known for its ability to counteract an active opioid overdose.
However, using Suboxone to treat opioid dependence is not without controversy, as this drug still carries some potential for dependence, and people who replace their opioid addiction with indefinite Suboxone use are still taking an opioid.
Methadone and Suboxone Maintenance Programs
Methadone maintenance programs have been around for years, and now you can find Suboxone maintenance programs. These types of treatment regimens are often accused of simply replacing one addiction with another, and it’s hard to argue that this isn’t the case.
These programs essentially trade heroin, OxyContin, etc. for methadone or Suboxone. Sure, they keep people alive and greatly reduce the risk of overdose, but the program often drags on for a year or more before the physician even considers getting the patient off opioids completely.
In this format, patients typically return to the same clinic every day to get their dose of methadone or Suboxone. Sometimes, they have to wait in a long line to get their pill(s) for the day. Patients typically have to take their medication in front of a nurse, in order to prevent them from selling it to someone else outside of the clinic or building up a stash in order to take a larger dose at one time.
These clinics are highly regulated by federal and state laws, but that doesn’t mean they are a good long-term option for people hoping to become entirely substance free. They also tend to not have a great range of supplemental resources and services to help the patient heal in other ways.
And, above all, methadone and Suboxone have the potential for addiction; keeping a patient on these drugs indefinitely is a prime way to actualize that potential. Instead, having a plan to get the patient off these drugs quickly can avoid the development of a replacement addiction.
So What Is Opioid Detox?
It’s important to note that methadone and Suboxone clinics can handle opioid detox, but they are not likely to provide comprehensive treatment as someone withdraws from heroin or any other strong opioid.
Instead, we consider professional opioid detox to be any program that offers around-the-clock medical supervision and additional forms of treatment rather than only medication. This type of detox program is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), with “assisted” being the operative word – in contrast to a medication-only approach to detox.
The best MAT programs will have a plan for getting clients off all opioid-based medications in a short amount of time, such as one to two weeks, or three months at the longest. In some cases, medication may not be prescribed at all, especially if the client’s addiction isn’t deemed as severe.
Which Medications Might Doctors Give in Opioid Detox?
Professional opioid detox programs have to ability to prescribe one or more medications to help with various aspects of withdrawal. These potential medications include:
- Methadone (Dolophine or Methadose)
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex)
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
- Ambien – to help with sleep during withdrawal
- Hydroxyzine – to reduce anxiety symptoms
Although many of the drugs on this list pose risks, they can be very effective within a short-term program that intends to taper the client down completely. There’s a big difference between prescribing these drugs for a week or two basis compared to a year-long regimen or longer.
Supplemental Forms of Opioid Addiction Treatment
Supplemental treatment services will vary by the detox facility or rehab center you choose. No matter what, it’s important to find a facility that offers treatment beyond medication to overcome an opioid dependence.
Potential supplemental treatment services include:
- Vitamin supplements
- Healthy meals
- Exercise and sports activities
- Spa amenities and treatments
One of the goals of a professional detox program should be to help clients decompress and avoid as much agony and discomfort during the arduous period of withdrawal. The treatments listed above do just that. Many facilities call this a holistic approach to treatment.
Opioid Detox at Bright Future Recovery
Bright Future Recovery can help you safely detox from opioids in a professional, comfortable setting. Our program lasts seven to 10 days, and then we help map out your entire treatment process, since recovery takes so much more than just detox.
Our partnered physician can strategically prescribe you a safe amount of methadone, Subutex or hydroxyzine to help you withstand the withdrawal symptoms, and you can further heal by taking advantage of our on-site gym, massages, Epsom salt baths, ping pong and foosball tables, relaxation oils, equine-assisted therapy and more.
Contact us to learn more about how our Hollister, California detox program can help you or a loved one begin your journey to opioid addiction recovery.