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Methadone vs Buprenorphine for The Treatment of Opioid Dependence

Methadone vs Buprenorphine for The Treatment of Opioid Dependence

In the US, opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose of opioid drugs became a serious health issue. Opioids are a type of medication which are also known as narcotics. People use two common medications to treat this disorder namely, Methadone and Buprenorphine.
Today we will try to compare Methadone vs Buprenorphine medications and to find out the confusion.

If patients are suffering from severe pain such as cancer, injury, or surgery, then a healthcare expert can recommend these opioid-based drugs for treating chronic pain in individuals.

In this blog, there is some general information about these drugs and their uses, dosage strengths, side effects and precautions.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid analgesic drug and it’s a generic drug. People use this drug for opioid use disorder (OUD) and to manage pain. This FDA-approved medicine is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

At first, this medicine is used for pain treatment, later it is approved to treat opioid addiction.

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a generic drug, and it is available as an active ingredient in other drugs. It is also a prescription medication. This buprenorphine drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat OUD and acute to chronic pain in patients.

Buprenorphine is also categorized as a Schedule III Controlled Drug. The various brand name forms of buprenorphine are Belbuca, Brixadi, Buprenex, Butrans, Subutex and Sublocade.

Comparison: Methadone vs Buprenorphine

Let’s compare both drugs depending on the following factors-

Mechanism of Both Drugs:


This drug works between the brain and body to reduce feelings of pain by interrupting the way nerves signal pain. It binds the mu-opioid receptor and an antagonist at the kappa-opioid receptor.


It works in the brain and nervous system to alter the way that respond to pain. Methadone helps to reduce the withdrawal symptoms in patients who have stopped taking opioids.

Dose & Dosage:

Methadone drug is available in various forms, such as oral tablet, injectable solution, Dispersible tablet, oral solution, and Oral concentration solution. The available various dosage strengths are as follows

  • Oral tablet strengths:- It is available as Methadone 5 mg and Methadone 10 mg.
  • Injectable solution strength:- 10 mg/ml.
  • Dispersible tablet strength:- 40 mg.
  • Oral solution strengths:- 5 mg/5 ml and 10 mg/5 ml.
  • Oral concentrate solution strength:- 10 mg/ml.

Buprenorphine Drug is available in Sublingual, injection and patch forms with various strengths as follows-

  • Tablets:- 2 mg and 8 mg.
  • Injections:- 0.3mg/mL
  • Patches:- These are available in different strengths. These patches are recommended by the doctor after the proper diagnosis of the patient.

Dosage of Buprenorphine drug-

  • For Opioid Dependence

A starting dose of 2 mg to 8 mg of buprenorphine tablet every day is recommended.

  • For Pain

Dosage of patches:- Patients should wear patches at least for 7 days. It depends on the patient who is taking other opioid painkillers.

Dosage of injections:- Adults and children are advised for a single dose and second dose after one hour. It starts working after 15 minutes of being injected in the muscles of a patient.

Dosage of Methadone Drug

  • Short-term moderate to severe pain

Adults Dosage (ages 18–64 years): The starting dosage of 2.5 mg every 8 to 12 hours. A dose can be increased by the doctor every 3 to 5 days or more.

  • Dosage for Senior patients (ages 65 years & above): A doctor can advise them for a lower dose because the level of the medication can build up too much in their body. This can lead to severe health problems in the senior patient.

Dosage for detoxification of opioid addiction

Adults dosage (18–64 years):-

The initial dose is 20–30 mg. The doctor may increase the dose up to Methadone 5 mg – Methadone 10 mg after 2 to 4 hours. For short-term relief, the initial dosage is 20 mg. People can the medicine twice a day for 2 to 3 days. Patients can not take more than the maximal dose of 40 mg on the first day.

Dosage for opioid addiction:-

Adults dosage (ages 18–64 years):- The suggested initial dosage ranges between 80–120 mg per day.

Uses: Methadone vs Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine Medication Uses:

  • Buprenorphine is an opioid drug that people use to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).
  • Doctors prescribe this drug for treating moderate to severe pain in the patients.

It helps in reducing the craving and withdrawal symptoms without causing any serious side effects in individuals.

Methadone Drug Uses:

This drug is used as a pain reliever and helps in relieving chronic pain, such as cancer pain, post and pre-surgery pain, trauma, heart attack, etc. Also, it helps in detoxifying from opioids and managing withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone is used to help individuals with OUD manage their addiction and reduce the risk of relapse.

Side Effects:

Side Effects of Methadone and Buprenorphine Drugs

Common side effects of both drugs

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Excess sweating
  • Pain in body
  • Swelling

Serious side effects of both drugs

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irritation
  • Skin allergy
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Bladder pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Hallucination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramp
  • Change in skin color
  • Anxiety

These drugs carry various risks of factors such as dependence, overdose, and side effects. If patients experience any of these risk factors or any side effects after taking these drugs, then ask your healthcare expert for immediate medical consultation.

Precautions for Both Drugs:

  • Patients should inform their healthcare experts that they are using vitamins, supplements or herbs because these drugs may cause drug interactions.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol with these drugs.
  • Patients should inform their medical history to healthcare experts before taking these medications.
  • Pregnant women should avoid the uses of these two drugs.
  • Store Both drugs at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.
  • An overdose of these medications could lead to fatal consequences.


In conclusion, we have learned about Methadone vs Buprenorphine differences, its side effects, uses, doses, and precautions. Although both drugs have similar work and a little bit differences. The doses of these two drugs depend on the health condition of an individual. It will be harmful to you if you take an excess amount and fully depend on these medicines.

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