How Long Should I Stay in Methadone Treatment?
If you’ve reached the point where you’re considering methadone treatment, you’re likely trying to recover from a long history of opiate abuse. As the very first opiate addiction treatment medication developed, methadone remains the standard approach for helping individuals overcome the effects of chronic addiction and maintain abstinence on a long-term basis.
Methadone treatment combines the therapeutic benefits of methadone with ongoing behavioral treatment interventions. In this way, recovering addicts can work through both the physical and psychological aftereffects of long-term addiction.
As each person’s circumstances differ, methadone treatment durations will vary depending on any one person’s treatment needs. Understanding methadone’s overall purpose in helping you overcome opiate addiction once and for all can help you make an informed decision as to how long you should stay in methadone treatment.
Methadone’s Treatment Purpose
Chronic and long-term opiate addictions have a dramatic impact on the brain’s ability to function normally. During the course of drug use, the brain has come to depend on opiate effects to manage the body’s systems. In the process, increasing chemical imbalances within the brain make opiate effects all the more necessary for normal functioning.
In the absence of the drug, the brain is left to manage the body’s processes on its own in the midst of a highly unstable chemical environment. These conditions account for why those in recovery so often struggle with ongoing sleep problems, feelings of depression and severe drug cravings.
According to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, the purpose of methadone treatment works to restore a normal chemical balance within the brain while supporting damaged neurotransmitter-producing cells. Once the brain’s chemical environment stabilizes, a person starts to feel normal again in terms of his or her emotional and psychological well-being.
Factors Affecting Methadone Treatment Duration
Chronic opiate addiction exists as a complex disease that develops out of a series of physical, emotional, psychological and environmental factors, according to Addiction Journal. While any one person’s circumstances are unique unto themselves, the aftereffects of addiction tend to remain the same across the board.
Factors affecting methadone treatment duration have as much to do with your history of drug use as it does your life history and current state. Factors to consider include:
- Length of opiate abuse, as in months, years or decades
- Addiction severity
- The presence or absence of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders
- Physical health status
- Motivation level
- Whether or not a person has a strong support system in place
- Stable vs. unstable home environment
As a baseline measure, a person should remain in methadone treatment for a minimum of one year to have the best chance at a successful treatment outcome. Otherwise, the greater the number of contributing factors, the longer one’s methadone treatment duration should be.
If you or someone you know are considering methadone treatment and have more questions, or need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.