Methadone Alternatives for Opioid Withdrawal

Get Support to Come Off Opioids with Suboxone and Sublocade at Changes

Methadone is likely one of the first drugs that comes to mind when you think about battling your opioid addiction. To be clear: methadone treatment is an effective way of overcoming withdrawals in a way often covered by Medicaid, government subsidies, or private insurance.

However, you may find better success and outcomes with methadone alternatives, available when you seek treatment using other MAT medications at Changes Healing Center. And Changes also accepts nearly all forms of AHCCCS as well as many private insurances in-network.

So, what can you expect from Suboxone and Sublocade treatment compared to methadone treatment?

Suboxone and Sublocade both contain buprenorphine, a Schedule III drug that can help you taper off other opioids. It’s harder to overdose as the effects hit a plateau, and they have a ceiling effect. They are often more convenient to take with fewer withdrawal symptoms and side effects.

Changes Healing Center is available to help you navigate the complex decisions of which treatment is the right fit for you. We offer customized treatment plans for opioid addiction treatment so that you always get help tailored to your needs. Keep reading to learn more about Suboxone and Sublocade.

What are Suboxone and Sublocade?

Starting treatment for prescription drug abuse and other opioids means that you’ll need help to reduce withdrawal symptoms. This can enhance your likelihood of sticking with sober living and provide you with the support needed early in the recovery process.

Suboxone and Sublocade are two alternatives to methadone that your treatment team may prescribe that act on some of the same receptors as methadone. However, this is where the similarities tend to end as these drugs don’t require the use of methadone clinics or continuous monitoring.

Both of these prescribed drugs contain buprenorphine as the primary ingredient. Sublocade contains the drug as a monthly injection, administered at your doctor’s office. Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone together and can be taken daily at home.

Keep in mind that buprenorphine is a Schedule III drug because it can be abused similarly to other opioids.

Suboxone as Methadone Alternative

The Effects of Buprenorphine on Opioid Receptors in the Brain

Why should you consider these alternatives to methadone? You may prefer the scientific explanation of how the drug impacts the opioid receptors in the brain. It’s a partial agonist at the mu receptor which means that it triggers some of the same receptors as medications used for severe pain (like morphine).

It’s also a weak kappa receptor antagonist and delta receptor agonist.

Buprenorphine can be a powerful analgesic without the safety risks of methadone, morphine, and other painkillers. The effects of this methadone alternative hit a plateau at a certain dose because it moves from being an agonist to an opioid antagonist. It also has a ceiling effect which means that it’s safer to use.

What are the Benefits of Suboxone and Sublocade vs Methadone?

Compared to methadone treatment, alternative medication assisted treatment options like Suboxone and Sublocade have some real benefits. They eliminate daily trips to the methadone clinic, but they also have a significant impact on long-term sobriety.

First, Sublocade is a monthly injection that keeps levels of the drug in your body at continuous levels for the entire month. This means that you can take the controlled substance at your doctor’s office and not have to think about withdrawal symptoms for the entire month. It controls cravings and minimizes the effect of not having opioids in your system.

Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone which means that it can be great for anyone who may be at risk of an overdose. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that reverses overdose situations.

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MAT is Best Used in Combination with Behavioral Therapy

If you’re struggling with opioid use disorder, whether you are taking heroin, fentanyl, or other forms of painkillers such as ‘blues,‘ you need more than just a methadone alternative that can minimize side effects. You also need to seek out behavioral therapy from skilled clinicians who are well-versed in this issue.

Changes Healing Center will offer you the support you need beyond medication-assisted treatment with our proven forms of therapeutic support.

Studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy is more effective than physician management alone. In a detailed study of opioid users, researchers found that CBT resulted in double the number of weeks that a patient was abstinent from all drugs.

This means that your methadone maintenance isn’t going to yield long-term results without first dealing with the underlying causes of your substance misuse. You need to examine your thoughts, feelings, and actions to determine why you turn to substances to cope. Our team can help you get to the bottom of it.

Why Seek Out Methadone Alternatives for Opioid Addiction?

Methadone Treatment

When you’re facing opioid dependence, need effective detox services, and are ready to accept help, methadone treatment is often one of the first therapies people turn toward. However, there are some serious downsides to methadone to weigh before starting treatment.

Here are a few reasons to turn to Suboxone or Sublocade at Changes Healing Center instead.

Inconvenient to Access Treatment Daily

Methadone requires that you return to a local clinic regularly, but it may be a serious drain on your time, preventing you from working or spending time with loved ones who could support you. In the beginning, you’ll be required to attend the clinic daily. If the clinic is inconvenient to access, it could be a barrier to treatment.

These daily visits can last for weeks or even months, depending on the severity of your opioid use.

On the other hand, medications like Suboxone can be prescribed and taken at home. This permits you to keep up with other responsibilities while still receiving opioid addiction treatment. In the case of Sublocade, your doctor administers the monthly injection, so you don’t have to think about it as often.

Moderate Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

While you could take methadone long-term, many people will eventually want to discontinue use as the treatment takes up a significant chunk of time. Ending your methadone treatment means that you’ll deal with opioid withdrawal symptoms for days or even weeks after the final dose.

On the other hand, Suboxone tends to have milder withdrawal symptoms when you’re ready to stop the treatment. Withdrawal symptoms will last approximately one to two days. Stretching out the withdrawal period means that you may prolong the discomfort, though it’s possible to taper down slowly.

The Potential for Misuse and Prolonged Opioid Dependence

Finding the right methadone dosing can be complex. Clinics will need to find the dose that will alleviate the withdrawal symptoms but not so much that you experience euphoria or the high associated with the drug. As you can imagine, it’s a balancing act that can’t be avoided.

Medications like Suboxone prevent misuse with the addition of Naloxone into the prescription. Naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal medication. When combined with buprenorphine in Suboxone, Naloxone blocks the partial opioid agonist to reduce the likelihood of misuse.

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More Side Effects of Methadone Treatment

The scientific basis of how methadone works on opioid receptors is fascinating, but most people want to know how methadone is going to impact them now. When used to treat opioid addiction, a medical team will monitor your response to the drug to determine the ideal dosage.

However, methadone can have more side effects than other medication-assisted treatment options. It may lead to side effects like:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep disturbances or sedation
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Weight gain

The side effects associated with methadone treatment are minimized when you opt for methadone alternatives like Suboxone and Sublocade.

Seek Alternatives to Methadone at Changes Healing Today

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Are you ready to embrace a life without opioids but aren’t sure where to start? A methadone clinic may not be the right fit for you, but Changes Healing Center can offer you comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for opiate and opioid addiction. Under the care of our medical team, we can monitor your reaction and side effects carefully.

Entrust yourself to our care as we get you through the early withdrawal symptoms following an opioid dependence. Our friendly enrollment team is ready and waiting to help you take the first steps toward sobriety. We can verify your insurance benefits in a quick and confidential phone call.

Reach out to us today to learn more about our medication-assisted treatment programs!



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  2. Kumar R, Viswanath O, Saadabadi A. Buprenorphine. [Updated 2024 Jun 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:
  3. Wang S. (2019). Historical Review: Opiate Addiction and Opioid Receptors. Cell transplantation, 28(3), 233–238.
  4. Moore, B. A., Fiellin, D. A., Cutter, C. J., Buono, F. D., Barry, D. T., Fiellin, L. E., O’Connor, P. G., & Schottenfeld, R. S. (2016). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Improves Treatment Outcomes for Prescription Opioid Users in Primary Care Buprenorphine Treatment. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 71, 54–57.
  5. Westermeyer, J., & McCance-Katz, E. F. (2012). Course and treatment of buprenorphine/naloxone withdrawal: an analysis of case reports. The American journal on addictions, 21(5), 401–403.
  6. Blazes, C. K., & Morrow, J. D. (2020). Reconsidering the Usefulness of Adding Naloxone to Buprenorphine. Frontiers in psychiatry, 11, 549272.
  7. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 6, Methadone maintenance treatment.Available from:

Why Changes Healing Center?

The mission of the CHC family is to assist in any way possible our client’s desire to achieve and maintain a life of long-term sobriety.

We are a licensed drug rehab in Phoenix, AZ, with substance abuse and Arizona alcohol rehab programs.

Our Programs serve Maricopa County and the surrounding cities and regions with evidence-based behavioral healthcare provided by individuals passionate about recovery.

We are JCAHO accredited for addiction treatment by the Joint Commission and strive to continuously improve our offerings and make treatment more accessible for all in need.

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Changes Healing Center

29 W Thomas Rd # 205

Phoenix, AZ 85013


(602) 691-7244

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