Methadone maintenance treatment is designed to help people overcome narcotics addiction by mitigating withdrawal symptoms and preventing relapse episodes.
Will Methadone Help Me Overcome an Addiction to Narcotics?
Methadone can be a very beneficial treatment for narcotic addiction. Whether you are addicted to prescription opioid drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, or fentanyl or illicit opioids like heroin or opium, methadone can be part of treatment regimen that helps you manage your addiction to narcotics. Your success with methadone though will depend both on your ability to follow your prescription and treatment regimen and your personal needs that should be met by your treatment plan.
How Does Methadone Treat Narcotic Addiction?
According to the NLM, Methadone “is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in patients who were addicted to opiate drugs and are enrolled in treatment programs in order to stop taking or continue not taking the drugs.” Methadone is a synthetic opioid that, in low doses, produces a much smaller effect in the brain than some other more intense narcotic drugs. This means that it can, if taken at that correct dosage, occupy the opioid receptors and not cause a high.
Methadone can also:
- Be taken once a day
- Curb withdrawal symptoms
- Curb cravings
- Sometimes block the effects of other narcotics
- Allow an individual “to work and participate normally in society” without experiencing intoxication or being affected by withdrawal symptoms (CDC)
More than Just Methadone Itself
According to the CDC, “Methadone maintenance treatment, a program in which addicted individuals receive daily doses of methadone, was initially developed during the 1960s as part of a broad, multicomponent treatment program that also emphasized resocialization and vocational training.” These other treatments are still used today along with the drug to help narcotic addicts get back on their feet and be able to lead more productive lives.
Usually, the treatment is not just methadone itself but this broader, more multifaceted treatment program. It is often available in an outpatient setting and many patients attend treatment for a long time, even years or more. This is because, as methadone maintenance treatment for narcotic addiction has been around for more than fifty years, it is an extremely beneficial and viable treatment for many individuals.
Is Methadone Effective for Opioid Addiction Treatment?
In many cases, yes. According to Harvard Medical School, “More than 100,000 American addicts are now using methadone as a maintenance treatment.” Methadone helps patients stop their abuse of illicit opioids and has reduced
- Crime rates associated with narcotic abuse
- Mortality and overdose rates associated with narcotic abuse
- The risk of “acquiring or transmitting diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B or C, bacterial infections… and STDs” (CDC)
This program has also been shown to “improve… family stability and employment potential” in addicted individuals as well as “pregnancy outcomes.” Over time, a person can be slowly tapered off the drug and able to stop taking methadone if they choose. Others may decide to stay on the drug for a long time or even indefinitely. While this is controversial in many circles, there is a large amount of success associated with methadone in the treatment of narcotic addiction.
Methadone Treatment vs. Narcotic Addiction
Many people do not understand the difference between being maintained on methadone and being addicted to harmful narcotics. Some people believe that the only way to overcome addiction is to eventually live a complete and utter drug free life. However, this is not an option for every individual patient. If someone stays on methadone for a long time or indefinitely, it is not the same as being addicted to heroin or other narcotics.
Addiction causes extreme problems in your daily life including physical and mental health issues, financial problems, relationship and family problems, and work and school performance issues. Many people who are addicted to narcotics commit crimes in order to get more of the substance, and some die of respiratory depression. The chance of these outcomes occurring are all reduced when an individual goes on methadone treatment.
According to the NIJ, methadone maintenance treatment “helps opioid-addicted patients alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce opiate cravings, and bring about a biochemical balance in the body in order to reduce the illicit use of opioids.” This is the desired effect of the treatment, and it is very successful for those who take their medication as prescribed and attend therapy and the other treatments in their plan.
Am I a Good Candidate for Methadone Treatment?
If you are addicted to narcotics and have been for some time, you may be a good candidate for methadone treatment. Ask yourself the questions below to find out whether or not methadone treatment may help you overcome your addiction to narcotics.
- Am I addicted to narcotics?
- Am I unhappy unless I am on narcotics?
- Do I think about narcotics constantly and experience cravings when I am not taking them?
- Have I ever experienced issues in my life due to my narcotic abuse such as:
- Getting fired from a work?
- Seeing my grades slip?
- Getting expelled?
- Having multiple relationship problems because of my opioid abuse?
- Breaking ties with family members for the same reason?
- Getting arrested?
- Experiencing medical problems due to my addiction to narcotics?
- If I have experienced one or more of these issues, did I still continue to abuse narcotics?
- Do I feel that I am not in control of my narcotic abuse?
- Do I feel dependent on narcotics to the point that I cannot feel normal without them?
- Do I merely take these drugs just to stave off withdrawal symptoms?
- Have I tried shorter term treatments before and not been successful?
- Am I willing to follow the prescription given to me by my doctor and to not exceed the methadone dosage?
- Am I willing to attend therapy and other types of behavioral treatment in order to overcome my narcotic addiction?
- Do I feel that I will not be able to stop taking narcotics on my own?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, you would likely be a good candidate for methadone treatment. Over time, you can start to taper off the dosage of methadone if you prefer or stay on the medication. Either way, you have a strong likelihood of overcoming your narcotic addiction with the help of methadone treatment.