Methadone is a medication that is most often used to treat people who are trying to quit powerful opiates like heroin. The withdrawal symptoms from a drug like heroin can be fairly intense, so people sometimes choose to participate in a program at a methadone clinic for addiction. Even though methadone treatment programs have been around for decades, people who have not had much experience with addiction treatment may still have questions about the process. Learning more about methadone, heroin addiction, and substance abuse in general can be helpful and empowering, allowing people to make more informed choices about their treatment.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a synthetic opioid first developed prior to World War II in order to address the shortage of available opium for pain relief. In the 1960s, it was found to be an effective treatment for addiction to opiates, or what is now called opioid use disorder.
Methadone works to blunt cravings for opiates by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. It stays in the system for a long time compared to other opioids, so it can be a very effective way to help people who are struggling with opioid use abstain from illicit substances.
The benefits of methadone treatment include:
- Decreased cravings for opioids
- Diminished withdrawal symptoms
- Improved ability to participate in counseling and other behavioral therapies
- Increased chance of long-term abstinence
Is Methadone Dangerous or Is Methadone Safe?
When used carefully under the supervision of a medical provider in the context of a substance use disorder treatment program, methadone can be safe. However, because it is an opioid, methadone does carry a risk for abuse, addiction, and even overdose. Unlike other drugs that are sometimes used to treat opioid use disorder, methadone is powerful enough to cause a high if abused and can produce central nervous system depression, which can lead to overdose.
However, for people who are committed to recovering from opioid use disorder, methadone can be a safer, more comfortable way to reduce and eliminate the use of illicit opioids. Pregnant women who need to quit using street opioids for the safety of their baby can be safely managed on methadone, allowing them to navigate their pregnancy without using dangerous drugs.
How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder Work?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a way to help people stop using dangerous opioids like heroin by reducing withdrawal symptoms. Clients in MAT will be transitioned onto a medication like methadone, and then, as they receive treatment for their opioid use disorder, their care team will work with them to gradually reduce and eventually eliminate the methadone.
This type of program is not, however, without risks. Methadone can be diverted for abuse, and people who use it can experience methadone addiction. Sometimes methadone is sold on the black market or found in combination with other drugs such as MDMA. Any medication that is not acquired under the care of a medical provider should be considered potentially dangerous and avoided. Frequently, drugs sold on the black market may be adulterated with unknown drugs or other substances, making them far more dangerous to consume than properly-regulated pharmaceuticals.
Lotus Recovery Centers Can Help with Opioid Addiction Treatment
At our recovery centers in West Virginia and Delaware, our clients get the help they need at a cost they can afford. We at Lotus Recovery Centers believe strongly that cost should never stand in the way of our clients receiving the cutting edge treatment they deserve, so we are happy to work with Medicaid and other forms of public insurance. Opioid addiction is a battle that no one should have to fight all alone. If you or someone you care about has been struggling with opioid addiction, reach out to our caring staff today at 833.922.1615 and let us tell you what we can do to help.