Last updated: 04/30/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
When you’re addicted to opiates, getting sober isn’t easy. You’ve tried cold turkey. That was horrible. You went to rehab. Twice. Neither trip gave you the time you were hoping for. So now, you’re seriously considering going with a medication assisted treatment like methadone, but you’re just not sure.
To help you make an educated decision, here are six of your methadone questions answered.
What Is Medication Assisted Treatment?
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is an addiction treatment that combines traditional treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy with specialized addiction medication like methadone or Suboxone. Both elements work together and must be present to help the patient reach recovery.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a strong, synthetic opiate used to treat severe pain and opiate addiction. While similar to morphine, methadone lasts much longer, which is why it’s prescribed to those with addiction, as one oral dose lasts nearly 24 hours, reducing cravings and drug seeking behaviors.
Is Methadone Addictive?
Like other strong opiates, methadone is highly addictive. It works on the same brain receptors as heroin and prescription pain pills, and creates both a tolerance and a dependence. While methadone is dangerous when abused, when used to treat opiate addiction and properly administered, it’s a safe alternative to heroin and chronic pain pill abuse. With only one monitored dose a day, addicts do not go through withdrawal symptoms and are less likely to inject illicit substances.
How Long Does Methadone Last?
Methadone is long lasting, which is why it’s used to treat addiction. Most methadone clinics have patients dose once a day. Within 20 to 45 minutes after taking the medication, the effects are felt. When taken orally, it takes longer for methadone to reach its peak effect, but the narcotic lasts longer, typically 20 to 48 hours.
How Long Will I Be on Methadone?
Methadone is not a quick solution to addiction. Just as it took years for you to reach this spot in your addiction, it may take years to stop it. Methadone is typically considered a long term treatment option and there is a specific process that makes tapering the dosage slow and less noticeable, reducing the risk of relapse.
Studies show that the longer a patient is on methadone, the better his or her chance of remaining sober. Before considering tapering down a methadone dose, certain criteria should be in place. This includes:
- A stable home and family life.
- A history of treatment compliance.
- No drug or alcohol abuse.
- The commitment that you’ll return to methadone if needed.
How Effective Is Methadone?
When used in the appropriate way and in coordination with addiction counseling, methadone is highly effective.
- It increases the amount of time in recovery.
- It allows people to hold down jobs.
- It lowers criminal behaviors.
- It improves family functioning.
- It reduces the impact of addiction on the community.