Is Methadone a Safe Treatment for Adolescents?

Methadone maintenance is one of the most commonly used treatments for opioid addiction and has been since its introduction in the 1960s. However, this medication is not the best treatment option for every individual, and it may not be safe for everyone either. Especially as the teen drug abuse and addiction rate is as high as it is, many people are wondering whether or not methadone is a safe treatment for adolescents.

Is Methadone Maintenance Approved for Adolescents?

The National Institute of Justice states that methadone maintenance is an option for individuals eighteen and older. This is because, in most cases, the method is not available to adolescent addicts. Other sources, though, define methadone as a possible treatment for adolescents, as the Michigan Department of Community Health, Behavioral Health, and Developmental Disabilities Administration states that non-pregnant adolescent patients and pregnant adolescent patients can possibly attend methadone maintenance under certain circumstances.

According to the MDCH, “An individual under 18 years-of-age is required to have had at least two documented unsuccessful attempts at short-term detoxification and/or drug-free treatment within a 12-month period to be eligible for maintenance treatment.” The clinic must also receive written consent from a parent or guardian in order for the adolescent to start this program. In the event that the individual is under 15 years old, they must also have permission from specific administrations in the state and federal governments.

This is likely the case so that each adolescent wanting to begin methadone maintenance will be considered for their eligibility and for their need for this particular option. In general, though, adolescents can legally receive the medication as a treatment for opioid addiction under the right circumstances.

Is Methadone a Safe Treatment Option for Adolescents?

MMT can be a safe option for adolescents.

MMT can be a safe option for adolescents.

Like for adults, methadone is a safe treatment option, although it can be problematic in certain instances, especially when it is abused. Adolescents being treated with the medication must be cared for at a methadone clinic, and it can be very beneficial for them to have a close family unit who will help ensure that they are taking their medication as prescribed and support their treatment regimen. Other treatments, like family therapy, individualized drug therapy, group therapy, HIV prevention, drug education, etc., are of course very helpful as well, and the individual should attend treatment at a clinic that provides other options that fit their needs.

Methadone itself, though, is a medically safe option for people of many different ages, including adolescents. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Long-term methadone maintenance treatment at doses of 80 to 120 mg per day is not toxic or dangerous to any organ system after continuous treatment for 10 to 14 years in adults and 5 to 7 years in adolescents.” It has also been found to cause only minimal side effects in “adolescent patients treated for up to 5 years” and to create no toxic effects in that time as well.

Are in Need of Methadone Maintenance Treatment for Your Adolescent Loved One?

If your son, daughter, friend, or another loved one of young age has been abusing opioids and is in need of methadone maintenance, call 800-891-9360 today. We can help you find a program in your area that can cater to the needs of adolescent patients.