Will I Have to Stay on MMT for the Rest of My Life?
The effects of opiate addiction reconfigure the brain in fundamental ways. Opiate abuse disrupts the brain’s chemical system and changes its overall physical structure along the way. These changes account for why it’s so hard to overcome chronic opiate addiction.
MMT, or methadone maintenance treatment is designed to be a long-term treatment approach; however, actual treatment duration varies from person to person. As a general rule, the more severe the addiction, the longer the treatment duration should be.
While there are cases where a person may be better off staying on MMT for his or her lifetime, certain factors ultimately determine how long you should stay in treatment to see optimal results.
The MMT Methadone Maintenance Treatment Approach
The damage left behind by chronic opiate addiction leaves the brain unable to function normally on its own. Damaged brain cells and persistent chemical imbalances will continue to compromise a person’s efforts in recovery in the absence of needed treatment supports.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the MMT methadone maintenance treatment approach combines methadone, a specially formulated synthetic opiate, with behavior-based treatment interventions to equip a person with the supports needed to combat opiate addiction in his or her daily life.
Factors that Influence Treatment Duration
Opiate Abuse History
According to Brain: A Journal of Neurology, the damaging effects of opiates tend to accumulate with time. With each dose ingested, opiates force neurotransmitter-producing cells to secrete abnormally large amounts of chemicals.
These interactions cause increasing damage to cell structures, which leaves them unable to function normally in the absence of the drug’s effects. The longer opiate abuse continues, the greater the damage done, the longer one’s time in methadone treatment should be.
Addiction, in any form, develops out of effects had on the brain’s reward system. As brain chemical imbalances become increasingly worse, the reward system undergoes drastic changes.
By the time addiction takes hold, the reward system has been rewired to the point where anything having to do with getting or using opiates takes on top priority in a person’s life. MMT methadone maintenance treatment uses behavior-based treatments that work to help a person replace compulsive drug-using behaviors with healthy ways of managing stress and pressure on a day-to-day basis without the need for drugs.
In effect, the more severe the addiction the longer a person should remain in treatment.
Co-occurring psychological disorders, such as bipolar, depression and anxiety-based disorders, often develop out of the chemical imbalances brought on by chronic opiate abuse. These conditions not only intensify addiction urges, but also worsen the brain’s state of imbalance.
Under these conditions, addiction severity increases at an even faster rate. In cases where opiate abuse spans over the course of years, a person may well need to remain in MMT methadone maintenance treatment for ten years or more.
Overall, a treatment duration of one year or longer is needed in order for methadone treatment to even have a chance of being effective regardless of a person’s condition. In this respect, it helps to view the MMT methadone maintenance treatment process as a long-term treatment approach rather than a quick-fix solution.
Please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 for information on available opiate addiction treatment options.