Is Suboxone the Same as Metha? Learn the Key Differences12 min read

In the world of opioid addiction treatment, Suboxone and Metha are two commonly used medications. Both are aimed at helping individuals break free from the grips of opioid dependency. However, are they the same? Let’s explore the significant differences between Suboxone and Metha, helping you make an informed decision about the most suitable treatment option.

  • Chemical Composition: Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, while Metha is solely composed of metha hydrochloride.
  • Medical Uses: Suboxone is primarily used for treating opioid addiction and managing chronic pain, while Metha is mainly employed for opioid addiction treatment.
  • Mechanism of Action: Suboxone works as a partial opioid agonist and antagonist, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, whereas Metha functions as a full opioid agonist, providing similar effects to opioids without the same intensity of euphoria.
  • Administration: Suboxone is available as sublingual films or tablets, while Metha is typically dispensed as a liquid for oral administration.
  • Effectiveness in Addiction Treatment: Suboxone has shown efficacy in reducing opioid use and supporting recovery, and Metha has a long history of successful opioid addiction treatment.
  • Legality and Accessibility: Suboxone is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance, while Metha falls under Schedule II, influencing their prescription regulations and accessibility.

Chemical Composition

Suboxone combines buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, an opioid antagonist. This combination ensures that if Suboxone is injected, the naloxone component counteracts the effects of opioids, reducing the risk of misuse. On the other hand, Metha is a synthetic opioid that acts as a full opioid agonist, binding to the same receptors as other opioids but with a slower onset and longer duration of action.

Medical Uses

Suboxone’s dual-purpose of addressing opioid addiction and managing pain makes it a versatile medication. However, Metha is primarily used for opioid addiction treatment due to its ability to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings effectively.


  • Opioid Addiction Treatment: Suboxone helps individuals taper off opioids by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it an essential component of medication-assisted treatment programs.
  • Chronic Pain Management: In some cases, Suboxone is used for pain management, especially for patients with a history of opioid addiction.


  • Opioid Addiction Treatment: Metha has been a gold-standard treatment for opioid use disorder for decades, as it alleviates withdrawal symptoms and reduces the desire for other opioids.

Mechanism of Action

Suboxone’s mechanism of action involves buprenorphine binding to opioid receptors in the brain, activating them to a lesser extent than full opioids. This helps to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing the same intense euphoria. Naloxone, the other component of Suboxone, acts as an antagonist, blocking the effects of other opioids if the medication is misused. Metha, on the other hand, acts as a full opioid agonist, binding strongly to opioid receptors and producing effects similar to other opioids, but without the same intensity of euphoria.

Administration and Formulations

Suboxone is available as sublingual films or tablets, designed to be dissolved under the tongue, which allows for efficient absorption of the medication. It also comes in various dosage strengths, providing flexibility for individualized treatment. Metha is commonly dispensed as a liquid for oral administration. However, it is important to note that Metha is only available through authorized clinics, whereas Suboxone can be prescribed by qualified healthcare providers in different settings.


  • Sublingual Films: These dissolvable films are placed under the tongue, ensuring quick absorption and onset of action.
  • Sublingual Tablets: Similar to films, these tablets are also taken sublingually for the treatment of opioid dependence.


  • Liquid Formulation: Metha is typically dispensed as a liquid solution in authorized clinics, with the dosage tailored to each individual’s needs.

Effectiveness in Opioid Addiction Treatment

Both Suboxone and Metha have demonstrated effectiveness in treating opioid addiction, but they have some differences in terms of outcomes and management.


Suboxone has shown promising results in reducing opioid use and supporting recovery. It is considered safer in terms of overdose potential, making it a preferred choice for take-home prescriptions after initial stabilization in a clinic setting. However, it may not be as effective for individuals with a high level of opioid tolerance or those who have not had success with other treatments.


Metha has a long history of successful opioid addiction treatment and has been used for decades. It is particularly effective for individuals with a high level of opioid tolerance or those who have struggled with other treatments. However, Metha requires daily administration at an authorized clinic, which can be logistically challenging for some individuals.

Side Effects

Both Suboxone and Metha may cause side effects, although the nature and severity of these side effects can differ between the two medications.


Some common side effects of Suboxone include nausea, headache, constipation, and insomnia. In some cases, individuals may experience dizziness or drowsiness. It is essential to discuss any persistent or bothersome side effects with a healthcare provider.

Suboxone Side Effects:

  • Nausea: Nausea is a common side effect of Suboxone and may occur during the initial stages of treatment.
  • Constipation: Suboxone can slow down bowel movements, leading to constipation in some individuals.
  • Insomnia: Sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, may occur in some individuals taking Suboxone.


Metha can also cause side effects, including constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, and sweating. As with Suboxone, it is crucial to report any concerning side effects to a healthcare provider.

Metha Side Effects:

  • Constipation: Similar to Suboxone, Metha can lead to constipation, which may require management strategies.
  • Dry Mouth: Some individuals may experience a dry, parched feeling in the mouth while taking Metha
  • Dizziness: Metha can cause dizziness or lightheadedness, particularly during the early stages of treatment.

Addiction and Withdrawal Potential

Concerns about the potential for addiction and withdrawal are significant factors when considering opioid addiction treatment options.


Due to buprenorphine’s partial agonist activity, Suboxone carries a lower risk of addiction and milder withdrawal symptoms than full opioids. However, some individuals may still develop physical dependence with prolonged use.


Metha is an opioid, and like other opioids, it can lead to physical dependence. Its use requires careful monitoring and adherence to prescribed dosages to avoid addiction and severe withdrawal symptoms.

Legal Status and Accessibility

The legal status and accessibility of Suboxone and Metha can influence their availability and use in opioid addiction treatment.


Suboxone is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States, indicating a moderate potential for abuse. It can be prescribed by qualified healthcare providers in different settings, making it more accessible for outpatient treatment.

Suboxone Legal Status and Accessibility:

  • Prescription Regulations: Suboxone can be prescribed by doctors who have obtained a special waiver to treat opioid dependence.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Being more accessible, Suboxone is often used in outpatient settings and take-home prescriptions for stable patients.


Metha, classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, has a higher potential for abuse. As a result, it is typically administered through authorized clinics known as opioid treatment programs (OTPs).

Metha Legal Status and Accessibility:

  • Authorized Clinics (OTPs): Metha is dispensed daily at authorized clinics to monitor patient progress and prevent misuse.
  • Regulated Dispensing: Access to Metha is closely regulated to ensure appropriate use and patient safety.

Combination Therapy: Suboxone vs. Metha

Combination therapy involves using multiple medications to optimize treatment outcomes and address individual needs.

Benefits and Considerations

Combining Suboxone and Metha is not recommended, as they have different mechanisms of action and can interact with each other, leading to potential adverse effects. However, healthcare providers may consider combination therapy with other medications or therapies to enhance treatment effectiveness.

Popularity and Usage Trends

The popularity and usage of Suboxone and Metha can vary based on various factors, including geographic location, healthcare provider preferences, and treatment guidelines.


Suboxone has gained popularity in recent years due to its effectiveness in treating opioid addiction and its relative safety compared to full opioids. It is widely prescribed in outpatient settings, and take-home prescriptions are common for patients who demonstrate stability in their recovery.

Popularity and Usage Trends of Suboxone:

  • Increased Prescriptions: The number of Suboxone prescriptions has risen steadily, reflecting its growing use in opioid addiction treatment.
  • Availability in Outpatient Settings: Suboxone’s accessibility makes it a preferred choice in outpatient treatment programs.
  • Use in Harm Reduction: Suboxone is also used in harm reduction programs to prevent overdose and decrease illicit opioid use.


Metha has been utilized for opioid addiction treatment for several decades and remains a cornerstone of comprehensive treatment programs. However, its usage is more restricted due to the need for daily dispensing in authorized clinics.

Popularity and Usage Trends of Metha:

  • Established Treatment Option: Metha has been a standard treatment for opioid addiction for a long time, and many clinics continue to offer this form of therapy.
  • Authorized Clinics (OTPs): Metha’s administration in specialized clinics helps monitor patient progress and address potential safety concerns.

Comparison of Costs

The cost of Suboxone and Metha treatment can vary based on factors such as medication dosage, frequency of administration, and healthcare coverage.


The cost of Suboxone can be higher compared to Metha, particularly if patients require higher dosages. However, insurance coverage and patient assistance programs may help offset some expenses.

Factors Influencing Suboxone Costs:

  • Dosage Strength: Higher dosage strengths of Suboxone may be more expensive than lower ones.
  • Insurance Coverage: The extent of insurance coverage for Suboxone treatment can significantly impact out-of-pocket costs for patients.
  • Patient Assistance Programs: Some manufacturers offer patient assistance programs to reduce the financial burden for eligible individuals.


Metha treatment tends to be more cost-effective due to its longer duration of action, which eliminates the need for multiple daily doses. However, the costs associated with daily clinic visits can be a consideration for some patients.

Factors Influencing Metha Costs:

  • Clinic Visits: Daily visits to authorized clinics for Metha administration can incur transportation and time costs for patients.
  • Insurance Coverage: Insurance plans may cover a portion of Metha treatment expenses, but it varies depending on the policy.

Considerations for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women with opioid use disorder require specialized care, and treatment decisions must prioritize both maternal and fetal well-being.

Risks and Benefits of Suboxone

Suboxone may be considered a safer option for pregnant women compared to Metha, as it is a partial opioid agonist and has a lower risk of overdose. However, healthcare providers carefully weigh the potential benefits against potential risks during pregnancy.

Suboxone Considerations for Pregnant Women:

  • Maternal Stability: Pregnant women who are stable on Suboxone before pregnancy may be advised to continue the treatment under close medical supervision.
  • Fetal Development: Healthcare providers monitor fetal development to ensure Suboxone does not negatively impact the baby during pregnancy.
  • Safety during Pregnancy: Suboxone’s potential benefits in reducing opioid use and preventing withdrawal may outweigh potential risks when used appropriately during pregnancy.

Risks and Benefits of Metha

Metha has a longer track record of use in pregnant women with opioid use disorder and is associated with successful maternal and neonatal outcomes. However, careful monitoring is essential to ensure both maternal and fetal health.

Metha Considerations for Pregnant Women:

  • Established Use: Metha has been used in pregnant women for decades and is considered a safe and effective option.
  • Neonatal Withdrawal: Newborns exposed to Metha in utero may experience neonatal withdrawal symptoms, but appropriate medical management can help alleviate these symptoms.
  • Individualized Treatment: Treatment decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the patient’s specific medical history and needs.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Suboxone more effective than Metha in treating opioid addiction?

Answer: The effectiveness of Suboxone and Metha can vary depending on individual factors. Some may respond better to Suboxone, while others may find Metha more suitable. Both medications have shown positive outcomes in treating opioid addiction.

2. Are there any drug interactions with Suboxone or Metha?

Answer: Yes, both Suboxone and Metha can interact with other medications. It is crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all the drugs and substances you are taking to avoid potential interactions.

3. Can I switch from Metha to Suboxone or vice versa during treatment?

Answer: Switching between Suboxone and Metha requires careful consideration and should be under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider. Abruptly switching medications can lead to withdrawal symptoms or reduced effectiveness.

4. How long does treatment with Suboxone or Metha typically last?

Answer: The duration of Suboxone or Metha treatment can vary based on individual needs and progress. Some individuals may require long-term maintenance, while others may gradually taper off the medication over time.

5. Are there any alternatives to Suboxone and Metha for opioid addiction treatment?

Answer: Yes, there are other medications, such as Naltrexone and Buprenorphine (alone, without naloxone), which are also used for opioid addiction treatment. Each medication has its benefits and considerations, and the choice depends on the individual’s specific circumstances.

6. Can I become addicted to Suboxone or Metha during treatment?

Answer: While both Suboxone and Metha can lead to physical dependence, the goal of treatment is to manage opioid addiction and provide support for recovery. When used as prescribed under medical supervision, the risk of addiction is minimized.

7. Are pregnant women safe to take Suboxone or Metha for opioid addiction treatment?

Answer: Pregnant women with opioid use disorder may be considered for Suboxone or Metha treatment under close medical supervision. Treatment decisions consider the risks and benefits to both the mother and the developing baby.

8. What should I do if I miss a dose of Suboxone or Metha?

Answer: If you miss a dose, follow the advice of your healthcare provider. For Suboxone, taking the missed dose when you remember it is usually safe. For Metha, it is essential to consult your clinic or healthcare provider for guidance.

9. Can I drink alcohol while on Suboxone or Metha treatment?

Answer: Alcohol consumption while on Suboxone or Metha can be dangerous and may increase the risk of adverse effects. It is best to avoid alcohol altogether during treatment.

10. Will taking Suboxone or Metha affect my ability to work or drive?

Answer: Suboxone and Metha may cause drowsiness or dizziness in some individuals, especially during the initial stages of treatment. If you experience such effects, it is essential to refrain from activities that require full attention, such as driving or operating machinery, until you know how the medication affects you.