How Will I Know When It’s Time to Stop Methadone Treatment?

People recovering from chronic opiate addiction may well contend with the ongoing effects of opiate abuse on a physical level for months and even years after stopping drug use. These effects make it especially difficult to follow through on any efforts made to live a drug-free life.

As the most researched opiate addiction treatment to date, methadone treatment addresses much of the difficulty involved with overcoming the physical effects of long-term opiate abuse.

Methadone treatment durations can run anywhere from six months to several years depending on the severity of a person’s addiction. Considering the role methadone plays in helping recovering addicts maintain sobriety, understanding how the drug works can go a long way towards knowing when it’s time to stop methadone treatment.

Methadone Treatment Effects

Time to Stop Methadone

Continuing to utilize psychosocial interventions is a good sign that you’re ready to stop using methadone.

Over time, the effects of chronic opiate abuse impair the brain’s functional capacity by weakening the cells responsible for producing neurotransmitter chemicals. By the time a person enters addiction treatment, the brain can no longer regulate its chemical processes on its own leaving recovering addicts in a state of emotional turmoil and physical discomfort.

As a treatment drug, methadone acts as a type of substitution therapy, mimicking the effects of addictive opiates in the brain, according to the Journal of Addiction & Health. Methadone itself is a synthetic opiate drug, which accounts for much of its effectiveness as an opiate addiction treatment. In effect, methadone treatment enables a person to feel “normal” again, both physically and emotionally. These benefits provide considerable relief, making it easier to maintain abstinence on a day-to-day basis.

Methadone Treatment Objectives

Methadone treatment programs combine methadone’s therapeutic benefits with psychosocial treatment interventions to give recovering addicts the best chance of overcoming the effects of addiction in their daily lives. Psychosocial treatment interventions commonly used include:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12 Step support group work
  • Drug education and counseling

These interventions specially address the effects of chronic opiate abuse on a person’s daily behaviors, motivations and overall mindset. Ultimately, addiction warps a person’s thinking and emotions, which become the driving forces behind compulsive drug use.

By combining medication therapy with psychosocial treatments, methadone treatment programs treat both the physical and psychological aftereffects of opiate addiction.

How Do You Get Off Methadone?

Signs That You’re Ready to Go off Methadone

Signs that you’re ready to go off methadone treatment appear within major life areas, especially the areas that suffered most as a result of addiction, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. While each person’s situation is different, signs of readiness typically include the following:

  • A stable home environment
  • Ongoing involvement or engagement in psychosocial treatment interventions
  • No problems with the law
  • Continued motivation to maintain abstinence from drug use

In effect, these conditions reflect the degree of growth that’s taken place in a person’s life and speaks to his or her ability to maintain continued abstinence without the need for methadone.

If you or someone you know are considering methadone treatment and have more questions, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.