How Does Methadone Maintenance Treatment Keep Me Off Heroin?

As one of the most addictive drugs on the market, heroin use can quickly evolve into heroin addiction without a person’s even knowing it. In cases of chronic heroin abuse, it can be all but impossible to stop using this drug on one’s own.

Methadone maintenance treatment addresses both the body’s physical cravings for heroin as well as the emotional “need” for the drug that develops during the course of a growing addiction.

Heroin Interactions in the Brain

Off Heroin

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The hold heroin exerts over a person’s life develops out of its interactions with the brain’s chemical system. Whereas the brain normally regulates neurotransmitter functions based on the body’s needs, heroin takes over this role in full force.

According to the University of Arizona, once addiction takes hold, heroin has overhauled a person’s psychological makeup through its effects on the brain’s chemical system. At this point your thought processes, motivations, and priorities all center on experiencing the drug’s “high” effect.

It doesn’t take very long at all before a person requires heroin’s effects to feel normal, both physically and emotionally. These conditions account for the high potential for relapse when stopping drug use altogether.

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Methadone’s Mechanism of Action

Methadone’s effectiveness as a treatment medication stems from its ability to stimulate neurotransmitter secretions in a way that restores the brain’s chemical balance back to normal. Since methadone belongs to the opiate class of drugs, it can meet the brain’s need or dependence on addictive opiates without producing a “high” effect.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, these interactions come with a range of treatment benefits, including:

  • Greatly reduces drug cravings
  • Relieves physical discomforts, such as body aches, nausea and fatigue
  • Relieves feelings of depression
  • Strengthens your efforts at continued abstinence

In effect, methadone maintenance treatment eliminates the two greatest obstacles to drug-free living: drug cravings and residual withdrawal effects.

Behavioral Interventions Used in Methadone Maintenance Treatment

While the physical cravings can make it especially hard to stay off heroin, the psychological effects of heroin addiction play a central role in driving compulsive drug use. Over time, heroin not only leaves the brain physically dependent on its effects but also psychologically dependent.

Psychological dependence lies at the heart of addiction, leaving a person unable to cope with stress and daily life pressures without the drug’s effects. Methadone maintenance treatment programs use behavioral interventions to help you replace addiction-based thinking and behavior with a mindset capable of managing daily life events without the need for heroin.

Behavioral interventions commonly used include:


If you’ve made multiple attempts to stop using heroin, whether on your own or through drug treatment programs, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, relapse in recovery is more so the norm than the exception when it comes to heroin addiction.

While traditional treatment approaches can be effective, the physical and psychological treatment supports provided through methadone maintenance treatment can help you overcome heroin addiction once and for all.

If you or someone you know are considering methadone maintenance treatment and need help finding a program that meets your needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-678-5931(Paid Advertiser) to speak with one of our addiction specialists.

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