Methadone Euphoria: Don’t Believe the Hype
First developed in the 1960s, Methadone exists as the first medication-based treatment for opiate addiction. After decades of research and real-world application, methadone treatment has a proven track record as an effective approach for helping recovering addicts abstain from compulsive drug-using practices.
As methadone is a synthetically made opiate drug, opponents of methadone treatment view this approach as a “substitute addiction.” From this standpoint, people in recovering are merely replacing the “high” effects brought on by addictive opiates with a methadone euphoria effect.
While methadone does share certain similarities with other types of opiates, feelings of methadone euphoria are not what makes methadone treatment work. Gaining an understanding of methadone’s treatment purpose can go a long way towards dispelling the hype that discourages those who can benefit from this form of treatment from getting the help they need.
Methadone’s Mechanism of Action
The “high” effect brought on by addictive opiates, such as morphine, hydrocodone and fentanyl develops out of their effects on brain neurotransmitter levels. In effect, these drug types force brain cells to release massive amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals, many of which play a part in regulating a person’s emotional state and thinking patterns.
According to the Journal of Addictive Diseases, methadone interacts with these same cells, but exerts a controlled effect on the brain’s chemical activities. This controlled effect stops short of producing methadone euphoria. Whereas addictive opiates create growing chemical imbalances over time, methadone works to support damaged cells and restore a normal chemical balance in the brain.
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The Methadone Treatment Approach
The methadone treatment approach combines the therapeutic benefits of methadone with ongoing behavior-based treatment interventions. In essence, methadone’s interactions in the brain work to eliminate the distressing withdrawal and drug cravings effects that so often plague the recovery process, according to Columbia Psychiatry.
In turn, ongoing behavior-based treatments provide a person with an awareness of how addiction takes shape in daily life and equips him or her with the coping skills needed to build a drug-free lifestyle.
Conditions that Cause Methadone Euphoria
When treatment guidelines are followed, methadone euphoria plays no role in the recovery process. Methadone euphoria only becomes an issue in cases where a person abuses methadone or combines methadone with other addictive drugs.
Under these conditions, methadone’s therapeutic effects fall by the wayside as the more harmful effects of the drug come into play. Once methadone euphoria becomes the sole purpose for using the drug, it’s no longer serving its intended treatment purpose.
Chronic and long-term opiate addiction causes extensive damage to the brain’s cells, chemical system and overall functional capacity. In the absence of some form of medication treatment, people in recovery must constantly fight against a brain that can no longer function in the absence of opiate effects.
Ultimately, the hype surrounding methadone euphoria fails to consider the very real challenges people recovering from chronic addiction problems face.