Does Length of Methadone Treatment Really Matter?

Methadone maintenance treatment exists as one of a handful of medication-based treatments for opiate addiction. Unlike traditional or standard drug rehab approaches, methadone maintenance entails a physical component that plays a critical role in helping recovering addicts abstain from drug-using behaviors.

While each person retains the right to discontinue treatment at anytime, length of methadone treatment has a considerable bearing on your recovery outcome. For these reasons, its important to understand how this particular treatment approach works before opting to shorten your length of methadone treatment.

How Methadone Treatment Works

Length of Methadone Treatment

Longer treatment programs can help you foster coping skills.

The effects of chronic opiate abuse create an opiate-dependent environment within the brain’s chemical system. Changes in brain functioning account for why it’s so hard to abstain from drug use for any length of time. After so many days or weeks of abstinence, overwhelming withdrawal and drug cravings effects develop out of the chemical imbalances left behind by chronic opiate abuse.

Methadone treatment directly targets affected brain systems through its use of methadone as a medication therapy. According to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, methadone’s effects work to restore a normal chemical balance in the brain, while at the same time eliminating withdrawal and drug cravings effects.

This means, the degree of damage done to the brain’s chemical system should ultimately determine length of methadone treatment.

If you’re considering treatment and you’re not sure if your insurance will cover your treatment costs, call our helpline at 800-891-9360 for more information.

Factors that Should Influence Length of Methadone Treatment

Addiction Severity

As a general rule, the longer a person engages in drug abuse the worse the addiction becomes, according to Addiction Journal. With ongoing drug use, the damaging effects of opiates essentially restructure the brain and “rewire” its neural connections.

For people coming off chronic and/or long-term opiate addiction, length of methadone treatment may well run for five or ten years depending on how long it takes for brain functions to return to normal.

How Long Does Methadone Maintenance Treatment Take?

Presence or Absence of Mental Health Disorders

It’s not uncommon for long-term opiate users to develop full-blown psychological disorders during the course of drug use. Psychological disorders, such as depression, bipolar and anxiety-based conditions only work to aggravate drug cravings and worsen the severity of withdrawal episodes experienced.

These developments only make it that much harder to overcome addiction’s effects in recovery. People affected by these conditions will likely require a longer length of methadone treatment than usual.

Standard Treatment Duration Considerations

Anyone who requires methadone treatment has already reached a point where considerable brain dysfunction is present. As a general rule, length of methadone treatment should run for a minimum of year regardless of addiction severity or co-occurring mental health issues. Otherwise, the risk of relapse and a return to drug use runs incredibly high.

If you or someone you know struggles with chronic opiate addiction and need help finding a program that meets your needs, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 to speak with one of our addiction specialists.