Last updated: 04/22/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
When you’re in early recovery, everything can feel overwhelming and maybe you’re struggling to stay clean. If that’s the case, taking time to understand your options is important, and one of those options is methadone treatment. But you may be wondering, what is methadone treatment, and is it right for me?
To help you better understand what it is and how it works, here are 10 tips for those new to recovery.
Tip 1: It’s Administered through a Clinic
Methadone can only be prescribed through specific, federally run methadone clinics. If you’re unsure where a clinic is in your area, talk to your family doctor to see where he or she recommends. If you have insurance, call the number on the back of your card to find a clinic. You can also contact your local referral agency for a list of local methadone treatment centers.
Tip 2: You Start at a Low Dose
Although you may think you should start at a high dose and work your way down, that’s not how methadone treatment works. Methadone is a strong and long lasting opiate and most patients are given a 30 to 40 mg dose to begin and receive gradual increases until they reach a stabilized, maintenance dose, typically between 60 and 120 mg.
Tip 3: Stay Clean
Just because you get off heroin, doesn’t mean you should continue to use other drugs. When mixed with other drugs, methadone can not only be dangerous, it can be fatal. And be prepared, when you’re in a methadone maintenance program, you will be randomly drug tested.
Tip 4: You Have to Go Every Day
When you begin methadone maintenance, you have to go to the clinic every day to get your dose. As you progress through treatment, you may earn take-home privileges, but expect to go every day for at least three months.
Tip 5: It’s Part of a Treatment Program
When people ask what is methadone treatment, they often don’t understand that there is actual treatment involved. When you’re on methadone, you must partake in both individual and group therapy where you learn about addiction, coping mechanisms, and life in recovery.
Tip 6: Your Chance of Success Increases with Time
When it comes to methadone, the longer you’re on it, the better your chances of success. It’s not a short term solution for opiate addiction, and shouldn’t be treated as such. While many people stabilize and wean off methadone over a two to three year time period, others stay on the medication indefinitely.
Tip 7: You Shouldn’t Get High from Methadone
Once you’re stabilized at your maintenance dose of methadone, you shouldn’t feel high from the medicine. Instead, you should be clear headed and be able to go about your day to day activities, including work, caring for children, driving, and just about everything else.
Tip 8: Methadone Can Be Used During Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant and using heroin, methadone can help. Methadone maintenance is the only FDA approved opiate addiction medication for pregnancy and is known to prevent some miscarriages associated with heroin use, as well as the dangerous withdrawal addicted newborns experience.
Tip 9: Methadone Is Long Lasting
One of the main reasons methadone works so well for opiate addiction is because it’s long lasting. One dose of methadone lasts 24 to 36 hours, stopping withdrawal and cravings in between daily doses.
Tip 10: Methadone Works
For those who actively participate in a methadone maintenance program, it does work. There is a significant decrease in IV drug use, sharing needles, overdoses, death, and HIV and Hepatitis C contraction. There’s also a decrease in criminal activity and an overall increase in general wellbeing, both at home and work.