The Effects of Opiate Addiction on Your Thinking and How Methadone Maintenance Treatment Helps

Chronic and long-term opiate addiction does a number on a person’s thinking as well as on his or her overall outlook on self and others. Even after a person stops using opiates, the effects of drug use can persist for months or even years at a time.

While many people may consider the physical effects of drug abuse to be the source of addiction, these effects only wreak havoc within the body’s chemical make-up. In actuality, the heart of addiction lies inside the mindset that forms during the course of using drugs.

While alleviating physical discomforts can go a long way towards supporting abstinence, methadone maintenance treatment programs use behavioral-based interventions to help you develop and maintain a drug-free mindset. Overall, methadone maintenance treatment addresses both the physical and psychological aftereffects of addiction.

The Psychological Effects of Opiate Addiction

opiate addiction psychological effects

Opiate abuse creates chemical imbalances in the brain.

In general, a person’s thinking and emotions develop out of the chemical workings of the brain. When functioning as normal, the brain secretes needed amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals for regulating bodily functions and enabling a person to handle the events of any given day. Chronic opiate abuse turns the brain into a chemically imbalanced environment. These conditions give rise to the thinking patterns, emotions and eventual behaviors that drive the opiate addiction lifestyle.

Chronic opiate use also warps an important area of the brain known as the brain reward system. The reward system coordinates input from the cognitive centers and the limbic or emotion-based centers to determine what drives a person, as well as what his or her motivations and priorities will be. According to Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, by the time opiate addiction sets in, the brain reward center has developed its own dependence on the drug and essentially “classifies” drug use as a top priority in person’s life.

Methadone’s Therapeutic Effects

Methadone’s use as a treatment drug relies on its ability to mimic the effects of addictive opiates and thereby relieve much of the physical discomfort addicts experience in recovery. Methadone, too, belongs to the opiate class of drugs and is specifically formulated to relieve withdrawal and drug craving discomfort without the high risk for addiction that other opiates carry. In effect, methadone restores a normal chemical balance in the brain, which in turn enables a person to take control of negative, addiction-based thinking patterns.

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The Benefits of Behavioral-Based Interventions in Methadone Maintenance Treatment

While methadone’s effects do pave the way for new thinking to take root, the thinking patterns associated with addiction remain well intact if no further treatment measures are taken. Methadone maintenance treatment programs employ behavioral-based treatment approaches to help recovering addicts replace addiction-based thinking patterns with the type of mindset that supports continued abstinence from drug use.

Behavioral-based interventions help you identify destructive thinking patterns and develop strategies for coping with daily life without the need for drugs, according to Maryland Department of Health. The types of interventions used may include:

  • 12-Step support groups
  • Drug education training
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Drug counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy (when needed)

As addiction has more to do with the mind than the body, opiate addiction treatment doesn’t really begin until a person starts work in behavioral treatment. Overall, methadone maintenance treatment equips recovering addicts with the tools and supports needed to maintain abstinence on an ongoing basis.

If you or someone you know struggles with opiate addiction and have questions about methadone maintenance treatment, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 for more information. Our addictions counselors can also help connect you with treatment programs in your area.