Am I Dependent on Methadone?

If you’ve been in methadone treatment for months or years, you’ve likely come to rely on methadone in terms of its ability to keep drug cravings and withdrawal effects at bay. Considering how heroin or prescription opiates can produce these same effects, it only stands to reason that maybe you’ve become dependent on methadone, or rather traded one form of dependence for another.

The truth of the matter is, in some respects the body does become dependent on methadone’s effects, but not in the same way the body depends on heroin or prescription opiates. Understanding methadone’s role in the recovery process and how it works can go a long way towards relieving any worries you may have concerning methadone dependence.

Call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 to ask about opiate addiction treatment options.

Methadone’s Role as an Opiate Addiction Treatment Drug

Dependent on Methadone

Methadone relieves drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

During the course of a developing addiction, opiates wear away at the brain’s structural and chemical makeup. Since the brain’s neurotransmitter chemical processes regulate the body’s major systems, growing chemical imbalances start to cause all types of physical and psychological problems.

These changes account for why it’s so hard to stay drug-free after stopping drug use.

According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, methadone acts as a type of medication therapy, supporting normal chemical processes and restoring a healthy brain chemical balance.

Methadone’s Intended Effects

Methadone actually belongs to the same class of drugs as heroin and prescription opiate drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone. Unlike these other addictive substances, methadone is specifically formulated to produce controlled effects.

Methadone’s effects work to treat and support damaged neurotransmitter-producing brain cells by helping cells produce stable levels of neurotransmitter chemicals. It does this without producing a “high” effect, so it’s addiction potential runs considerably lower than other opiate-type drugs.

Methadone’s mechanism of action accounts for why it’s able to relieve drug craving and withdrawal effects.

Will I Become Dependent on Methadone in Methadone Maintenance Treatment?

Being Dependent on Methadone vs. Addicted to Opiates

Since stopping methadone altogether will most definitely bring on uncomfortable withdrawal and cravings effects, the brain and body do form a type of dependence on methadone’s effects. It helps to keep in mind though that methadone’s physical effects also help put an end to compulsive drug-using behaviors, according to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice.

In essence, being able to stop compulsive drug use gives you a considerable advantage when it comes to overcoming addiction-based behaviors, most especially compulsive drug use. In this respect, being dependent on methadone pays off in dividends in terms of its ability to treat uncomfortable withdrawal and cravings effects as well as treat the addiction problem.

When to Consider Discontinuing Methadone Treatment

Methadone should only be used for as long as you need help controlling cravings and withdrawal effects. As methadone programs also offer behavior-based treatment interventions, once you’ve reached a point where healthy coping behaviors have become a natural part of your daily lifestyle, it may be time to speak with your doctor about discontinuing methadone treatment.

If you or someone you know are considering methadone treatment and need help finding a program, please feel free to call our helpline at 800-891-9360 for assistance.

How our helpline works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the helpline is a private and convenient solution.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.