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Difference Between Use Of Methadone And Buprenorphine In Heroin Addiction Treatment

Aug 26, 2008
There are two main drugs being used in heroin addiction treatment today. The first is methadone and the second is buprenorphine. When you are looking for an option on heroin addiction treatment, it is important to find out what kind of drug they will use for the treatment. This is important for the following reasons:-

1. The cost of the treatment will depend on the medication used,

2. The speed of the recovery according to the patient's condition will depend on the medication used and

3. The intensity of the treatment will depend on the medication used.

Since different patients have different kinds of requirements and preferences, a treatment pattern that will be suitable to one might not be suitable to another person. Hence, it is wise that you find out whether methadone or buprenorphine will be used in the center you are choosing. You must educate yourself on how these medications work and make your decision on that basis. Remember that both have their pros and cons.

Here we check out some details on methadone and buprenorphine, both of which are used widely in the heroin addiction treatment in the US, albeit in different ways and with different kinds of effects on the patients.

Methadone Heroin Addiction Treatment

The first noticeable thing about methadone is that it is also an opiate just as heroin is. The principle of the treatment is this: when methadone is introduced into the system, the person will lose the craving for heroin, because another opiate is taking its place. As long as the patient is kept up on methadone treatment, the person will not want heroin that drastically. This is a great way to allay the temptation in the patient's mind for heroin, which helps in their detoxification.

Slowly, as the person begins to lose the urge for heroin, the need for methadone will not be felt so direly. This is when the amount of methadone can be reduced. Usually, doctors will reduce the amount of methadone that is being administered to the patient gradually as the person starts coming out of the need for heroin.

However, there are several cons in methadone treatment. One of them is that methadone is a habit-forming substance in itself. It can happen that the patient loses his or her urge for heroin but gets hooked on to methadone. When that happens, it will become difficult to get the patient out of the methadone dependency. The doctors will have to use a very careful pattern of methadone reduction so that the person can be brought out of the methadone treatment without any drastic side effects.

Methadone also reacts with some prescription drugs that the person might be using. Some of these reactions can be fatal. For that reason, it is important to constantly supervise the patient when he or she is on methadone treatment. This is a drawback in the methadone treatment; most centers will not want to provide this treatment on an outpatient basis.

Hence, the methadone heroin addiction treatment, though used for about thirty years in the US now, has some disadvantages. It is a very serious kind of treatment and needs constant vigilance. It is this seriousness of the treatment that has made people veer towards other methods of treatment such as buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine Heroin Addiction Treatment

Buprenorphine is a fairly new medication used in heroin addiction treatment in the US. Its popularity has increased only in recent times, though it has been in use since about ten years. Recently, the FDA approved two medications containing buprenorphine for heroin treatment. These are Suboxone and Subutex. The introduction of these two drugs for heroin treatment has been met with favorably and it is a very good option of methadone.

Actually, buprenorphine is also an opiate and works principally in the same manner as methadone. It also attacks the same regions of the person's brain as heroin does and replaces the heroin craving for a buprenorphine craving. But there is a major difference in buprenorphine and methadone. That is, buprenorphine is not half as addictive as methadone is.

This is where the treatment with buprenorphine proves to be more convenient. Doctors don't have to worry about dosage as much as they have to with methadone. Buprenorphine is also safely provided in outpatient heroin treatment programs. In fact, it is right to say that outpatient methods of treatment for heroin addiction are possible only because of the presence of buprenorphine and its derivatives.

If you are looking for a medication for heroin addiction treatment, learn about buprenorphine and methadone well and then make your decision. Do not hesitate to ask a substance abuse counselor if you want to know better.
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