Is Methadone Maintenance Treatment Really Worth the Trouble?
As the very first opiate addiction treatment medication, methadone has a considerable track record as far as research and development goes. Since the 1960s, methadone has remained the standard against which all opiate addiction treatment medications are measured.
In spite of the restrictions and stigma associated with methadone maintenance treatment, those who most need it stand to benefit in ways unattainable through other drug treatment approaches. While methadone maintenance treatment may be well be known as the “treatment of last resort” for chronic drug users, it does a good job at providing the range of supports most needed to promote long-term abstinence from opiate use.
Methadone belongs to the Schedule II class of opiate narcotics. Granted, Schedule II class narcotics do carry a risk of abuse and addiction, however, methadone is specifically formulated to produce targeted results, according to Pennsylvania State University.
As a Schedule II class opiate, methadone also falls under heavy government regulation, which accounts for why anyone receiving methadone maintenance treatment must go through an authorized clinic facility. These restrictions not only prevent the abuse of the drug, but also include certain safety protocols that help to ensure proper dosing procedures are followed.
Methadone’s classification as an opiate drug can also draw cause for concern in terms of the idea of substituting one form of drug dependence for another. While this premise does hold some credence, the degree of damage brought on by chronic opiate abuse reconfigures the brain’s chemical network in such a way that stopping drug use “cold turkey” can actually cause more harm than good.
In the absence of some form of support for damaged brain chemical functions, addicts in recovery face a high risk of relapse for months or even years after stopping drug use.
Methadone produces long-acting effects and only requires once daily dosing as opposed to the frequent dosing addicts must engage in order to ward off withdrawal effects. In the process, methadone’s effects also ward off drug cravings, while addictive opiates only work to feed ongoing drug cravings.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment
According the Alabama Department of Mental Health, methadone maintenance treatment combines methadone’s therapeutic benefits with psychosocial treatment interventions in order to address both the physical and psychological aftereffects of long-term opiate abuse. Psychosocial treatment interventions, such as individual psychotherapy, support groups and group therapies deal specifically with the psychological dysfunction left behind by addiction, in terms of how a person thinks and behaves.
Addiction develops out of the effects of chronic opiate abuse on the brain reward system, the center most responsible for determining a person’s morals, priorities, motivations and behaviors. By the time addiction takes hold, a person has developed an entire lifestyle that centers around getting and using drugs. Psychosocial interventions help recovering addicts unlearn these behaviors and ways of thinking and in the process, develop the type of mindset and lifestyle that promotes drug-free living on an ongoing basis.
It’s not uncommon for people recovering from chronic opiate addiction to go through multiple rounds of drug treatment before seeing any real progress in recovery. While methadone maintenance treatment does come with certain restrictions and conditions, it’s essential to treat all aspects of chronic opiate addiction in order to give those in recovery the best chance of a successful outcome. In this respect, methadone maintenance treatment offers a comprehensive approach to helping you overcome opiate addiction once and for all.
If you or someone you know struggles with opiate addiction and have more questions, or need help locating treatment programs in your area, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 to speak with one of our addiction specialists.