How Can an Opiate Like Methadone Help Me Overcome Opiate Addiction?
People struggling with chronic opiate addiction well know the challenges involved with maintaining abstinence. These challenges can persist for years into the recovery process, with many experiencing untimely relapses as far as 10 years out. While traditional drug treatment programs do a good job at equipping those in recovery with the tools for living drug-free lifestyles, they often fall short in addressing the long-term physical aftereffects of chronic opiate abuse.
As the very first opiate addiction treatment medication, methadone has been around since the 1960s. It’s classification as a synthetic opiate drug accounts for the ongoing controversy surrounding its effectiveness as an opiate addiction treatment.
While the case can be made for methadone’s role as a “substitute addiction” in terms of its chemical makeup, it’s actual effects and role within the recovery process paint a different picture as far as the actual benefits that result.
The Effects of Chronic Opiate Addiction
The high addictive potential associated with opiates, such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone stems from the overall chemical makeup of this drug class. Whether natural or synthetically made, all opiate drugs bear a close resemblance to certain key endorphin chemicals in the brain, namely norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
These chemicals regulate central nervous system functions, such as relaying sensory information, cognitive functions and emotions so the brain only produces endorphins on an as-needed basis. Due to their similar chemical makeup, opiates can force endorphin-producing brain cells to secrete these chemicals.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, chronic opiate addiction essentially hijacks the brain’s regulatory functions and causes considerable damage to affected brain cells in the process. Once a person stops using opiates, the damage left behind accounts for the persistent drug cravings, depression and anxiety he or she experiences for months or even years thereafter.
For help finding methadone programs in your area, call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?).
Methadone’s Treatment Role
Methadone works by imitating the effects of addictive opiates without placing a person at high risk for abuse and addiction. In the process, methadone helps to restore a normal chemical balance in the brain, which in turn eliminates the drug cravings and emotional dysfunction that’s commonly experienced in opiate addiction recovery.
By the time a person becomes addicted to opiates, he or she requires multiple “hits” per day just to ward off withdrawal episodes. From there, even higher dosage amounts must be ingested to experience the desired “high” effects of the drug. Methadone’s chemical makeup delivers opiate effects at a controlled rate for up to 36 hours per dose, according to the Department of Health & Human Services. At optimal dosage levels, methadone does not produce a “high,” but rather stabilizes a person’s mood state while greatly reducing drug cravings.
With opiate addiction, addicts experience significant psychological dysfunction making them incapable of holding down a job, maintaining relationships or managing money. With methadone, the drug’s therapeutic effects produce a range of treatment benefits, including:
- Improved mood state
- Renewed interest in previously enjoyed activities and pursuits
- Increased motivation to get well
- Improved thinking and concentration
- Little to no drug cravings
- Ability to maintain employment
- Ability to take the steps towards repairing damaged relationships
- Improved physical health
If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction and have questions about methadone, or need help finding methadone programs in your area, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.