What Safeguards Are Used in Methadone Maintenance Treatment to Prevent Methadone Abuse?

Methadone’s use as an opiate addiction treatment continues to draw controversy in terms of how the drug works and whether it offers any real therapeutic benefits. Issues surrounding methadone abuse and dependence bring into question the overall risks involved with methadone maintenance treatment as a long-term treatment approach.

According to the Journal of Addiction Medicine, methadone exists as one of the most thoroughly studied treatment medications in modern medicine. As of the 1960s, ongoing research and development has gone into ensuring methadone’s safety and overall effectiveness as an opiate addiction treatment.

Gaining an understanding of the methadone maintenance treatment process and the regulations surrounding the use of this drug can help in making an informed decision as to whether methadone maintenance treatment is right for you.

The Role of Methadone Maintenance Treatment in the Recovery Process

Safeguards Are Used

Psychotherapy is one safeguard provided in methadone maintenance treatment.

Methadone’s classification as an opiate-based drug accounts for much of the stigma associated with methadone maintenance treatment. In effect, opponents of this approach view methadone’s use as a crutch in terms of substituting one form of drug dependence for another.

Methadone’s role in treatment works to restore normal brain function since long-term opiate use essentially warps the brain’s chemical system. With this degree of damage, abruptly stopping opiate use can actually cause more harm than good, leaving those in recovery wide open for dangerous relapse episodes. For these reasons, people who most benefit from methadone treatment typically have long histories of opiate abuse.

For help locating methadone programs call 800-678-5931(Paid Advertiser) .

Safeguards Used in Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Federally Mandated Safeguards

According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the Federal Guidelines for the Accreditation of Opioid Treatment Programs specifically spell out guidelines for the use of methadone as an opiate addiction treatment. These guidelines dictate who can prescribe methadone, required training and certifications for clinic staff as well as the protocols used when administering the drug.

Dosing Procedures

Methadone’s effectiveness depends on maintaining stable levels of the drug within a person’s bloodstream. According to the National Academies Press, clinicians must find the dosage level capable of keeping withdrawal and drug cravings effects to a minimum. In order to meet these goals, federal guidelines lay out specific dosing procedures to be used throughout the course of treatment.

Methadone Take-Home Protocols

Once a person has demonstrated ongoing progress in methadone maintenance treatment, he or she can receive take-home supplies as opposed to having to visit a methadone clinic on a daily basis. Treatment protocols specifically lay goal markers for determining when a person no longer poses a drug abuse risk, at which point take-home supplies can be offered.

Behavioral Treatment Interventions

The methadone maintenance treatment approach combines medication therapy (methadone) with ongoing behavioral treatment interventions as a means for helping a person overcome the physical and psychological effects of addiction. Behavioral treatment interventions used include:

  • Group therapy
  • Drug education and counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Support groups

In effect, the behavioral component helps recovering addicts replace compulsive-drug using behaviors with lifestyles that support continued abstinence from drug use.


While methadone maintenance treatment may not work for everyone, it nonetheless offers a comprehensive approach to helping a person overcome chronic opiate addiction once and for all. If you or someone you know are considering getting methadone maintenance treatment help, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-678-5931(Paid Advertiser) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.

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