Opioid addiction is on the rise. Methadone maintenance is also growing. Opioids are street drugs like heroin and painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services says our country is having an opioid crisis.
Methadone can be used to treat this addiction. But there are pros and cons to using it. This post can help you decide if methadone treatment is right for you. You’ll also learn about other opioid addiction treatment options. Looking at every option is ideal for recovery.
This post covers pros and cons of all treatment methods. Opiate addiction is complex. Methadone may be great for some addicts. It may be a bad choice for others. Treatment without medicine may be the best fit. You can make a solid choice using the info below.
What Is Methadone Treatment?
Methadone treatment or methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is a way to treat an opiate addiction. The goal of treatment is to slowly reduce reliance on heroin or other opiates. This process takes time. The amount of time depends on the addict’s needs.
The way methadone works is not perfect or ideal. Methadone is an opioid. It is used to replace the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers. That’s why it’s often called replacement therapy. Methadone has many of the same effects of heroin. But it doesn’t always cause a euphoric high if it used correctly.
Methadone comes in the form of tablets, liquid, and an injectable solution. Addicts can only receive methadone through clinics. The method used varies from clinic to clinic. Tablets and liquid are common choices. Some addicts use methadone for weeks or months. Others may use it for many years. Some people need methadone maintenance for life. Lifelong treatment can be difficult to stick to.
How Methadone Clinics Work
Methadone clinics give methadone doses to opiate addicts. They do this to reduce or stop opioid addiction. For some patients, short-term methadone maintenance therapy works. Others may need to visit methadone clinics on a long-term basis.
Methadone clinics are run by doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers. Opiate addicts take a drug test to start treatment. This is followed by a medical exam. The exam may screen for health problems like HIV and hepatitis. Patients may start methadone treatment after the exam.
There are public and private methadone clinics. It’s common for public clinics to have a waitlist. This is a problem for addicts who need quick treatment. Private clinics are less likely to have wait lists. But these clinics often cost more than public ones.
Methadone is taken every day. This is an issue for some addicts. Methadone can only be given out at a clinic. Some clinics let patients take their methadone at home. This only happens if they form a reliable pattern. And it’s not always an option. If you choose a methadone clinic, you should expect daily visits.
Many clinics provide services on top of giving out methadone. Counseling or therapy services may be available. Help with finding work and housing is common. Resources for legal problems may also be offered. The type of services varies at each clinic. Methadone maintenance treatment centers are commonly located in hospitals.
How To Find Nearby Methadone Clinics
If you choose this option, finding a clinic can be easy. You can look up a list of methadone clinics near you. You can Google “methadone clinic + (your city’s name)” to find them. Your city or county health department may also help you find a local clinic.
Remember that you can start by calling a clinic to discuss treatment. There’s no pressure to start methadone treatment. Ask questions and voice concerns. It’s important to be 100% comfortable with the choice you make. This post will cover common questions and concerns about methadone maintenance treatment.
Pros of Methadone Maintenance
Now you have a good idea about how these clinics work. Before you visit one, it’s best to read about the pros and cons of methadone use. Methadone treatment can be helpful for some opiate addicts. Examples of benefits are:
- There are free methadone clinics and low-income clinics. This is useful for addicts with limited money.
- Methadone has been used for over 30 years to help opiate addicts.
- For some people, the treatment schedule adds structure to their lives.
- Methadone is an opioid, so it can ease withdrawal symptoms caused by other opioids.
- The effects of methadone doses can last between 24 to 48 hours.
It’s clear that this option can be useful. However, it’s good to look at both sides of things. Every addict has unique needs. Below you’ll learn about cons of methadone treatment. Later in this post, you can review other treatment options. This will help you see what suits you best.
Cons of Methadone Maintenance
Stigma about methadone use is common. There are valid reasons for this view. Downsides to using this treatment option are a concern. The main methadone risks are:
- The issue of traveling to a clinic every day.
- Sticking to a strict treatment schedule.
- Addicts may still use opioid drugs while on methadone.
- Building a tolerance to methadone and needing increased doses.
- Methadone dependence and abuse can occur when it’s used incorrectly.
- Methadone withdrawal symptoms can be severe.
- It’s possible to overdose on methadone.
These bad side effects range from mild to severe. For example, using methadone and working can be hard. This is because you have to follow the methadone clinic’s schedule. And the potential for abuse may too difficult for severe addicts to handle. Methadone isn’t 100% bad and works for some people. But knowing the risks that it poses is very important.
Short-Term Effects of Methadone
Methadone use comes with some short-term effects. The list below includes physical, emotional, and mental methadone treatment side effects. If you choose this treatment, you may experience:
- excessive sweating
- sexual dysfunction
- slowed breathing
- dry mouth
Hallucinations and erratic heartbeat are possible but less common. Short-term side effects are similar to heroin side effects. That makes it important to stick to a schedule. It’s also crucial to be monitored by a clinic. Methadone causes 5,000 deaths per year in the United States. This is a major reason to think about other treatment.
Long-Term Effects of Methadone
Methadone treatment can cause negative long-term effects. There is an equal mix of physical and mental side effects. Some examples include:
- methadone tolerance
- physical dependence
- withdrawal symptoms
- methadone addiction
- cardiac health problems
- respiratory health problems
- irregular menstrual cycles in women
- tooth decay and dental damage
- impaired cognitive abilities
- nerve cell damage in the brain
- higher risk of mental health disorders
It’s unfortunate that this treatment drug can cause so many problems. It’s true that methadone can do good things for some addicts. But you can see that the negative effects of methadone treatment are troubling.
Methadone Addiction and Abuse
Methadone is an opioid, so it’s also used as a prescription painkiller. Unfortunately, methadone is responsible for 30% of fatal painkiller overdoses. This makes it clear that the drug can be abused. It’s less likely to happen in settings like methadone clinics. But it’s still a risk that you should consider carefully.
Methadone abuse can lead to addiction, too. Addicts go to methadone rehab in some cases. This includes people who use it as a painkiller and people who use it for treatment. Addiction may happen when methadone tolerance builds quickly. This is a lot like tolerance building for heroin and other painkillers.
Methadone Used As a Prescription Painkiller
Methadone can treat moderate to severe pain. It is so strong that it’s a Schedule II controlled substance. Other Schedule II drugs include oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) says Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse.
Methadone is often used to treat cancer-related pain. It is very similar to morphine. Morphine addiction falls into the opioid addiction category. In some cases, methadone is cheaper than other painkillers. Patients with severe pain may end up using methadone long-term, too.
This information shows the dangers of this drug. It truly replaces heroin and painkillers. That’s why it may be a bad choice for addicts. Again, people go to rehab for methadone addiction. It’s easy to see that it poses many problems.
Methadone and Drug Screenings
You’ve learned that methadone is an opioid. You may wonder if it shows up on drug tests. The answer to this question is yes and no. A regular drug tests are not likely to screen for methadone. This may include drug tests for jobs.
But some agencies use complex drug screenings. This includes government programs that give financial assistance. You can not be certain methadone won’t show up in a test. If you have to take a drug test, you may want to ask about this. You may decide that methadone isn’t worth the risk.
Are There Better Treatment Alternatives?
Addiction treatments are not a “one size fits all” matter. There are medicinal and non-medicinal ways to treat opioid addiction. Below, you can view some of the medicinal treatments. You can also see what drug-free options are available.
Buprenorphine or Subutex is a popular treatment like methadone. This medicine prevents drug cravings without causing a high or euphoria. This medicine is prescribed by a doctor. It can be taken at home. The pros and cons of Buprenorphine are like the pros and cons of methadone. Addiction to this medication is possible. This is a factor to think about.
Naltrexone is another medicinal treatment. It’s different from other options. It’s not addictive and does not cause opioid-like effects. Instead, it blocks heroin and other opiate drugs from working. It is also used to treat alcoholism. Naltrexone side effects are a problem, too. They are similar to methadone short-term side effects.
Group therapy or support groups can help recovering addicts. Many support groups are anonymous. This allows addicts to share their feelings comfortably. Support like this can be useful. But this isn’t a good choice for everyone. Unmonitored group therapy takes a lot of willpower. This can be difficult for severe or struggling addicts.
Intensive Outpatient Programs
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are a popular solution. These programs require addicts to regularly attend different types of therapy. They may attend cognitive behavioral therapy, group meetings, and individual counseling sessions. IOP also teaches coping skills and provide resources. This type of treatment does not use methadone.
IOP often leads to full recovery. This is because the treatment is complex. It covers every part of methadone addiction. It’s designed to help addicts get back on track. There aren’t risks like there are with medicated treatment. The length of IOP usually depends on the patient’s needs.
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How To Choose Between Methadone and Other Treatment Options
Overall, weighing your options is best. But as you can see, some options are safer than others. Methadone may be popular, but it has several downsides. In the long run, intensive outpatient programs seem to offer the most benefits. They also eliminate the risks associated with medicinal treatment.
Do you feel unsure about whether or not you’re an addict? It’s normal to feel doubt and have questions. You may get some reassurance from taking an addiction quiz. It can help you figure out if you need treatment for opioid addiction. It’s a good idea to follow up with confidential treatment resources after completing these quizzes.
Before you make your final choice, take some time to read addiction guides. These are written by professionals and are great resources. You can learn more about addiction, drug rehab, IOP, and more. These guides explain addiction in simple terms. Reading these guides make you well-informed. Then you can feel confident about making the best decision for yourself.