Addiction treatment is not an exact science. What works for one person may not work for another.

That’s why the proposal, included in the governor’s budget for the next two years, to end state funding for methadone treatment and fund Suboxone prescriptions instead is too simplistic an approach. The desire to get methadone patients to see primary care physicians, the rationale behind the proposal, is a great idea. But, it isn’t as simple as taking away methadone and giving them Suboxone instead.

Both drugs used to treat opioid addiction have advantages and downsides. Methadone must be dispensed at licensed clinics, requiring that recovering addicts make daily trips to communities like Bangor and Westbrook. Patients must take their doses — dispensed either as a liquid or a wafer — in front of clinic staff to ensure they don’t smuggle it out of the building. Patients can earn the right to take a bottle home if they avoid illicit drug use and remain committed to treatment. They also undergo regular drug tests and must participate in counseling.

Suboxone is prescribed by a physician, which allows recovering addicts to work and better integrate with their family, noted Kevin Flanigan, medical director for MaineCare. But doctors who are registered to prescribe Suboxone can only treat 100 patients at a time and there are not enough doctors licensed and trained to absorb the 3,800 addicts on MaineCare who currently get methadone at the state’s 11 clinics.

Suboxone can also more easily end up in the wrong hands. In fact, in 2012, then-Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte said it was the “ drug of choice” in the state’s prisons. It is smuggled into prisons in minute amounts — on strings, in magazines — that can be hard to detect.

Suboxone, which costs much more than methadone, is a good alternative for people with less severe addiction. For those with more serious or long-standing addictions, methadone is the only choice. In fact, some with severe addiction are treated with methadone for years before stepping down to Suboxone when they need a less potent drug.

Andrea, who was interviewed for a recent BDN story by Jackie Farwell (and declined to give her last name), said methadone is the only replacement drug that has worked for her. Her addiction began with pain medication for injuries she suffered in a car accident. She has tried Suboxone, but it didn’t curb her cravings and withdrawal symptoms, causing her to cut her arms to deal with the stress. She now receives treatment at a methadone clinic in Westbrook.

“If my MaineCare won’t cover [methadone treatment] anymore, I know for sure — 100 percent, if not more than 100 percent — I will die,” the Gorham resident said, fighting back tears. “I know that. And I don’t want to die.”

Andrea also said she hoped the governor heard her story. He and the lawmakers who will decide if the methadone-cutting proposal stays in the budget need to know that their decisions affect real people trying to overcome addiction. Making their recovery from addiction harder will likely have tragic consequences.

In 2013, 176 Maine people died of drug overdoses and abuse, according to figures from the attorney general’s office. The largest danger of the LePage approach is diverting people to a system of treatment through primary care that does not yet exist. Instead, continuing the use of multiple therapies to lessen the number of Mainers, low-income or not, who lose their battles with addiction makes sense.

The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...