Last updated: 04/30/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
If you’re addicted to heroin or other opiates, you already understand how unmanageable life can become. Things quickly slip out of control and suddenly it’s as if you’re living in chaos.
You try to stop, but it doesn’t seem you can. Maybe you even tried treatment, but you just didn’t feel normal, and eventually the cravings got the better of you. If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to consider something different, something like methadone maintenance treatment.
What Is Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
The first FDA approved medically assisted treatment (MAT) option, methadone maintenance treatment incorporates the use of a powerful and long lasting opiate, methadone, with traditional drug addiction treatments, such as individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), talk therapy, and group therapy.
Every methadone maintenance program is federal monitored and the medication can only be obtained through a specially licensed methadone clinic. At the beginning of treatment, daily methadone doses are given at the clinic, and through remaining sober and progressing in treatment, take home privileges are earned, starting with one dose at a time and working up to a week’s worth of medication.
Does Methadone Maintenance Work?
With a commitment to change and a dedication to participating in treatment, methadone maintenance treatment has a high success rate. Every year, thousands of individual stop using heroin, prescription pain pills, and other opiates through methadone maintenance. They regain control of their lives, stay sober, and become productive.
Studies also show that with methadone, there’s less IV drug use, less overdoses, and a lower death rate among users. When on methadone, those with opiate addiction are less likely to contract HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as have a decrease in criminal activity. Life at home and work both improve and patients report a more positive life experience.
Is Methadone Maintenance Treatment Right for Me?
Not everyone is an appropriate candidate for methadone maintenance. The following characteristics are common among those who succeed with methadone treatment:
- Tried traditional addiction treatments and did not remain sober
- Ready to make a commitment to stop using
- Not engaging in poly-drug use
- Been using an opiate for awhile
- Pregnant and still using
What Else Do I Need to Know about Methadone?
Once you reach a stable maintenance methadone dose, you shouldn’t feel high. Instead, you should feel clear headed and be able to accomplish what you need to do day to day. You shouldn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms or cravings or be distracted by thinking about drug use.
But taking methadone does have side effects. The most common include constipation, excessive sweating, and a drop in libido.
Do You Think Methadone May Be Right for You?
If you’ve tried getting off heroin or prescription opiates, but haven’t been able to do so on your own, it’s time to reach out for help.