Everything You Should Know about Methadone
If you’re considering a medically assisted treatment for drug addiction, methadone is one of your options. Yet methadone has such a stigma, you’re not sure if you should even consider it.
To help you make an informed decision, here’s everything you need to know about methadone and getting sober.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone was the first FDA approved medication for opiate addiction. It was introduced in 1947 as an analgesic, and in 1972 it was approved to treat addiction. An opiate agonist, methadone binds to the same receptors as the body’s opiods and natural opiates such as heroin and morphine. The drug has a long half-life, approximately 24 to 36 hours, which is one of the reasons it’s so effective for opiate addiction. If you’re addicted and looking for help, call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) today to talk to someone who can help.
Medically Assisted Treatment
Yet, methadone alone is not enough to treat addiction. Instead, it must be used as part of a medically assisted treatment (MAT) to be effective. Methadone addiction treatment is a combination of individual and group therapy, as well addiction education and case management.
Because methadone has such a high potential for abuse, it’s only allowed to be administered through a licensed clinic. Patients must come to the clinic every day to get their dose of medication until they earn take home privileges, which start with one take home dose and builds up to weekly privileges.
Methadone’s Bad Reputation
Even though numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of methadone maintenance treatment, it’s often considered a controversial method. Many people in the 12 step programs don’t consider those in MAT to be in recovery as they are still taking a narcotic medication.
Since many methadone clinics take a harm reduction model to recovery, they don’t kick patients out for smoking marijuana or testing positive for other drugs, which is elsewhere unheard of in the addiction treatment world.
While many people get on methadone, reach a stabilizing dose, and begin to wean down, eventually stopping the maintenance dosage, others do not. Once methadone levels cease, or even begin to drop, relapse occurs. These individuals often become methadone lifers, staying on the drug with no intent of ever stopping. This causes outsiders to look down on the programs, saying instead of helping people overcome addiction, they feed it to them instead.
But It Is Successful
Even with its bad reputation, methadone is successful. It has helped millions of people get clean, stay off heroin, and become productive members of society. Even for those who remain on methadone indefinitely, it’s still a success for the individual, his or her community, and the greater good.
Even if a person on methadone doesn’t fully embrace recovery, there is still a reduction in IV drug use and a decrease in overdoses, as well as mortality rates. Crime rates go down and so do the number of people contracting HIV. Beyond this, the individual begins to see an improvement in functioning, and can resume responsibility for his or her life, getting a job, taking care of children, and looking towards a brighter future.
While methadone may not a straight road to recovery, when followed it will take you out of the darkness of addiction and has proven to reduce harm to both the individual and society. Regardless of its reputation, it’s definitely a valuable treatment option. If you’re addicted to heroin and don’t know what to do, call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) today for immediate help. It may just save your life.