How Long Will I Need to be in a Methadone Program?
Methadone maintenance is a highly effective means of treatment for many people who suffer from heroin or opiate addiction. One of the biggest questions most people have when they start a methadone maintenance treatment programs is, “how long will I have to stay in a Methadone program?” While there is no definitive answer to this question, there are some guidelines that can help you to understand how long you will require treatment for your addiction.
Like any type of treatment for a disease or condition, the amount of time that it takes to overcome the condition and to stabilize will differ from one patient to the next. Some people will require a more lengthy treatment process than others. Methadone maintenance treatment, though different from one patient to the next, generally lasts at least a few months and in some cases can last years.
Factors that Increase MMT Time
Certain factors will increase the amount of time that it takes for you to overcome opiate addiction. Factors such as:
- the amount of time that you were addicted to an opiate before starting MMT
- the level of drug use that took place
- your individual health
- your desire to scale back your methadone and cope with the symptoms and cravings of addiction
- your commitment to getting off the methadone
- your commitment to using methadone merely as a stepping stone to get sober
Treatment Must Take 90 Days or More
NIDA describes the importance of drug treatment lasting at least 90 days in order to provide patients with the most effective means of staying sober. It takes 90 days for an individual to learn a new behavior so it’s important for MMT to last at least 90 days to allow the individual time for the opiate dependence to taper off and for their new lifestyle of avoiding drugs to set in.
With several months of Methadone treatment, users are more likely to stay away from other drugs such as heroin or other opiates. Each day of life without using these other drugs, is a day closer to sobriety. Patients who take methadone for a period of at least 12 months are 80% more likely to remain sober when they stop taking the methadone as part of a maintenance treatment for heroin or prescription painkiller addiction.