What Kind of Improvement Can I Expect to See with Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
Opiate addiction recovery can be a difficult process, especially for people coming off long histories of opiate abuse. Many have attempted drug rehab before, some having made multiple attempts to overcome addiction with little to no progress to show for their efforts. For these reasons, methadone maintenance treatment often ends up being a last ditch effort as far as attempts at drug treatment go.
The methadone maintenance treatment approach addresses both the physical and mental challenges recovering addicts face by combining medication therapy with ongoing psychosocial treatment interventions. Over time, a person can expect to see improvements in physical health, as well as in his or her mental and emotional functioning, all of which work to motivate continued abstinence from drug use.
Opiate Addiction Aftereffects
Over time, chronic or long-term opiate abuse wears away at the brain’s chemical pathways, weakening the cells that secrete certain essential neurotransmitter chemicals, such as norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, according to the National Safety Council. It doesn’t take long at all before chemical imbalances start to develop throughout the brain and central nervous system.
These conditions only get worse with continued opiate abuse. Increasing brain tolerance levels, withdrawal episodes and psychological dependence all work together to drive continued drug use. Even after a person stops using, the damage done remains, leaving those in recovery to deal with ongoing residual withdrawal effects for months, and sometimes years into the recovery process.
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Methadone’s Stabilizing Effects
As a treatment medication, methadone itself belongs to the opiate class of drugs, which offers certain key benefits in terms of its ability to support normal brain functioning. According to the Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, methadone replaces the role addictive opiates play in maintaining brain chemical functions without the high risk for abuse or addiction.
Since brain chemical processes have grown dependent on opiate effects to function normally, methadone’s role works to support weakened cell functions and restore a normal chemical balance in the brain. These effects enable a person to feel “normal” again, both on a physical and emotional level.
Psychosocial Treatment Effects
Psychosocial treatment interventions used in methadone maintenance treatment address the faulty thinking and behavior patterns left behind from long-term opiate abuse. In effect, opiate addiction lives on inside a person’s thinking and emotional responses even after he or she stops using the drug. These conditions account for the high relapse rates that occur in recovery.
Psychosocial interventions enable recovering addicts to replace addiction-based thinking and behaviors with healthy ways of coping with daily life pressures on a drug-free basis. Interventions commonly used include:
- Group therapies
- Support group work
- Individual psychotherapy
- Drug education
- Relapse prevention training
Methadone Maintenance Treatment Benefits
The combined effects of methadone and psychosocial treatment offer a range of treatment benefits, including:
- Eliminates residual withdrawal effects
- Greatly reduces drug cravings
- Improved sleep
- Increased motivation
- Ability to maintain employment
- Increased engagement in the treatment process
- Emotional stability
While methadone maintenance treatment may not work for everyone, those who do benefit from it see considerable improvement in their ability to maintain abstinence from drug use on an ongoing basis.
If you or someone you know is considering methadone maintenance treatment and need help finding a program that meets your treatment needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.