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Methadone or Suboxone For Treating Heroin Addiction?

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Heroin and other opioid drugs are highly addictive – and recovering from that addiction can be tough.  For many people, medical detox is the first step toward recovery, and medications such as methadone and Suboxone can help. Both these drugs can ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but they work in different ways.

What Makes Heroin So Addictive?

Heroin belongs to a class of drugs called opioids, powerful painkillers that produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Along with morphine and synthetic pain medicines such as Vicodin and OxyContin, heroin acts on natural opioid receptors in the body and brain to suppress pain messages and depress the central nervous system.

Over time, these receptors become dependent on heroin and stop responding on their own. The brain can develop new pathways related to the centers for pleasure and reward, causing more and more cravings for the drug. Stopping heroin and other opiates leaves these receptors suddenly empty, which causes the classic symptoms of heroin withdrawal, such as:

Treating Heroin Addiction

Methadone and Suboxone alleviate heroin withdrawal so you can begin your recovery journey.

  • Whole body “flu-like” symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Chills
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and depression

In the short term, heroin withdrawal takes about a week. But cravings and other symptoms can persist for much longer, and that can severely impact a user’s efforts to regain a drug free life. Methadone and Suboxone can keep those symptoms at bay, so that users can concentrate on recovery.

Methadone Mimics Heroin’s Effects

Methadone, often prescribed as Dolophine or Methadose, is an opioid agonist – a kind of drug that fills the body’s natural opioid receptors in the same way that heroin does, but with milder effects. In this way, those receptors in the brain and body are not left “empty” so withdrawal symptoms and cravings for heroin never have to happen.

Because methadone acts in the body like heroin does, but in a milder way, it can also become addictive, and like heroin it can be abused. If your doctor or therapist determines that methadone might help your recovery from heroin, you will most likely get your dose of methadone every day from a clinic that dispenses it under supervision.  As recovery progresses, you may begin to taper down your dose of methadone, gradually reducing it until you stop taking it altogether. That way, your body can adjust gradually to going without an opioid drug in your system.

The length of time you can expect to take methadone depends on your unique circumstances. Some people take methadone for relatively short periods of time, while others may need to take it indefinitely.

Can I Withdraw from Heroin at Home?

Suboxone Controls Cravings and Blocks Abuse

Suboxone is a combination of two drugs, buprenorphine and naloxone, which can also stave off withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for heroin. In some cases, a person might begin recovery by taking methadone, but switch to Suboxone for tapering down. In other cases, doctors and therapists might prescribe Suboxone initially.

The two ingredients of Suboxone might seem contradictory. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist – it meets the needs of the body’s opioid receptors, so that it prevents withdrawal symptoms and cravings. But unlike methadone, it doesn’t produce the “high” that users expect from heroin.

Suboxone also contains naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist – a drug that blocks the uptake of opioids by the body. Taken together, these two drugs prevent the cravings and symptoms of heroin withdrawal without causing any kind of “high’ that keeps the cycle of pleasure and reward going. That allows people to concentrate on recovering from addiction and building a drug-free life.

Unlike methadone, Suboxone is available by prescription, so it can be taken at home, without the need to go to a clinic every day. Suboxone is deliberately made difficult to abuse, so users can take it more responsibly and stop taking it when recommended without cravings and other side effects.

Both methadone and Suboxone can help people recover from an addiction to heroin. Although these two widely used medications aren’t right for everyone, they can keep withdrawal from getting in the way of starting a drug free life.

Are you struggling with an addiction to heroin – and want to stop? We’re here to help. Call us at 800-662-8079 for the solutions you need right now.

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