How Long Do I Have to Stay in Methadone Maintenance Treatment to See Long-Lasting Results?
Compared to other drug rehab approaches, methadone maintenance treatment entails an ongoing treatment process that comes with certain daily requirements. Anyone who’s receiving this form of treatment knows that daily clinic visits and intensive behavioral treatment interventions are requirements for being in the program.
For some, this can get cumbersome and even discouraging, making it difficult to stay engaged in the treatment process. Understanding how methadone maintenance treatment works can help in determining how long you’ll need to stay in treatment to see the best results.
The Aftereffects of Chronic Opiate Abuse
As a group, opiate drugs, such as heroin and oxycodone share a similar chemical makeup with the brain’s neurotransmitters chemicals, namely dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. This similarity accounts for the ease in which physical dependency and addiction develop with ongoing drug use.
Stopping drug use after addiction takes hold becomes an uphill battle as the brain’s system now requires opiates to function, much like it requires its own neurotransmitter materials, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine.
Without some form of support to pick up in the absence of opiate effects, it becomes all but impossible to maintain abstinence from drug use for any length of time.
Not sure if your insurance will help cover your treatment costs? Call our helpline at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) for more information.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment Components
Methadone’s Therapeutic Effects
As a treatment medication, methadone’s classification as a synthetic opiate accounts for its therapeutic benefits. Methadone interacts with the same neurotransmitter processes as addictive opiates, stimulating the release of these chemicals in normal amounts.
Whereas addictive opiates force the brain to secrete excess neurotransmitter amounts, methadone works to restore a normal chemical balance in the brain. These interactions keep residual withdrawal effects at bay while greatly reducing the degree of drug cravings experienced.
According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, people who remain in methadone maintenance treatment for a minimum of one year experience the best treatment outcomes. Otherwise, stopping treatment too soon can be counterproductive in terms of the brain’s healing and repair process.
Behavioral Treatment Objectives
Opiate addiction develops out of fundamental changes in a person’s thinking and motivations that result from ongoing drug abuse. The compulsive drug-using behaviors that characterize addiction create a lifestyle that’s designed to promote continued drug use.
In effect, the longer a person remains addicted to opiates the more ingrained this lifestyle becomes. The behavioral interventions used in methadone maintenance treatment work to replace addiction-based thinking and behavior with a lifestyle that’s geared towards drug-free living.
For these reasons, people recovering from severe or long-term addiction problems may need to remain in methadone maintenance treatment for up to five or ten years at a time in order to completely overcome opiate addiction.
It helps to keep in mind that chronic opiate addiction oftentimes has lasting effects that require ongoing treatment. In the absence of needed treatment support, a person will likely experience multiple relapse episodes as the damaging effects of opiate abuse become more severe.
Ultimately, the length of time you’ll require methadone maintenance treatment depends on the severity of your addiction problem.
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 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addiction specialists.