Am I Dependent on Methadone?
If you’ve been in methadone treatment for months or years, you’ve likely come to rely on methadone in terms of its ability to keep drug cravings and withdrawal effects at bay. Considering how heroin or prescription opiates can produce these same effects, it only stands to reason that maybe you’ve become dependent on methadone, or rather traded one form of dependence for another.
The truth of the matter is, in some respects the body does become dependent on methadone’s effects, but not in the same way the body depends on heroin or prescription opiates. Understanding methadone’s role in the recovery process and how it works can go a long way towards relieving any worries you may have concerning methadone dependence.
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Methadone’s Role as an Opiate Addiction Treatment Drug
During the course of a developing addiction, opiates wear away at the brain’s structural and chemical makeup. Since the brain’s neurotransmitter chemical processes regulate the body’s major systems, growing chemical imbalances start to cause all types of physical and psychological problems.
These changes account for why it’s so hard to stay drug-free after stopping drug use.
According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, methadone acts as a type of medication therapy, supporting normal chemical processes and restoring a healthy brain chemical balance.
Methadone’s Intended Effects
Methadone actually belongs to the same class of drugs as heroin and prescription opiate drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone. Unlike these other addictive substances, methadone is specifically formulated to produce controlled effects.
Methadone’s effects work to treat and support damaged neurotransmitter-producing brain cells by helping cells produce stable levels of neurotransmitter chemicals. It does this without producing a “high” effect, so it’s addiction potential runs considerably lower than other opiate-type drugs.
Methadone’s mechanism of action accounts for why it’s able to relieve drug craving and withdrawal effects.
Being Dependent on Methadone vs. Addicted to Opiates
Since stopping methadone altogether will most definitely bring on uncomfortable withdrawal and cravings effects, the brain and body do form a type of dependence on methadone’s effects. It helps to keep in mind though that methadone’s physical effects also help put an end to compulsive drug-using behaviors, according to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice.
In essence, being able to stop compulsive drug use gives you a considerable advantage when it comes to overcoming addiction-based behaviors, most especially compulsive drug use. In this respect, being dependent on methadone pays off in dividends in terms of its ability to treat uncomfortable withdrawal and cravings effects as well as treat the addiction problem.
When to Consider Discontinuing Methadone Treatment
Methadone should only be used for as long as you need help controlling cravings and withdrawal effects. As methadone programs also offer behavior-based treatment interventions, once you’ve reached a point where healthy coping behaviors have become a natural part of your daily lifestyle, it may be time to speak with your doctor about discontinuing methadone treatment.