Below is more information about heroin and methadone, and details of the use of methadone treatment for heroin.

Heroin is a dangerous part of the opioid epidemic currently tearing across the country and destroying and taking lives.

Heroin is an opioid, and it’s illegal, but what about methadone treatment for heroin? Are there differences in heroin and methadone? What is it like to receive methadone treatment for heroin? These are all questions that people frequently have.

Below is more information about heroin and methadone and details of the use of methadone treatment for heroin.

What Is Heroin?

Before looking at heroin and methadone in relation to one another, what is heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug, and it doesn’t have any approved medical uses in the U.S. When someone uses heroin, it binds to their brain’s opioid receptors, creating a euphoric high by flooding the brain with artificial amounts of dopamine. Even using heroin just once can alter your brain because of the profound effect this drug has on your reward pathways. Heroin is incredibly addictive because of the fact that it does activate reward pathways and triggers your brain to continue seeking the drug over and over again.

Along with feeling euphoric for a short period of time, when people take heroin it depresses their central nervous system, leading them to feel drowsy, nod off or even be sedated. It also slows other essential functions of the body such as respiration, and this is how an overdose occurs.

Heroin isn’t just psychologically addictive. It’s also physically addictive and people become physically dependent on it. When this happens, and they stop using it suddenly, they experience a type of shock known as withdrawal. Withdrawal from heroin can be a significant roadblock to sobriety because it is so physically and emotionally uncomfortable for most people.

This is where heroin and methadone relate to one another. Methadone treatment for heroin is intended to help people taper off their use of the drug, rather than stopping suddenly or cold turkey.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a medication that can be given to certain people addicted to heroin in order to help them stop using drugs. It’s classified as a medication-assisted treatment or MAT.

Methadone has been in use for decades as a way to help people stop using heroin and narcotic pain medicines, but there are things to be cautious and aware of as well.

Heroin and methadone act on the brain in somewhat similar ways. Methadone changes how the nervous system and the brain respond to pain, and it alleviates some of the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Methadone can also block the high that can come with the use of opioids so people can be deterred from relapsing.

Along with alleviating some withdrawal symptoms and blocking the euphoric high of opioids, methadone treatment for heroin is also used because it can reduce cravings.

Of course, as with anything, methadone treatment for heroin isn’t without risks and possible side effects.

Common side effects which are actually seen with both heroin and methadone include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, feeling faint or lightheaded, and constipation. Methadone also stays in the system of the user for a long period of time and can impair balance, thinking, and coordination.

Along with people who just want to stop using heroin, methadone treatment for heroin can also be used in pregnant women because stopping heroin or opioids cold turkey while pregnant can be harmful to the mother and her unborn baby.

What Should You Know About Methadone Treatment for Heroin?

Methadone treatment for heroin can be valuable and can help prevent a relapse and allow people to live a life without heroin, but methadone itself can be potentially addictive. It’s significantly less addictive than heroin, but that risk is still there. This is why with methadone treatment for heroin, it needs to be done under the close supervision of someone well-trained in dealing with patients regarding heroin and methadone.

There is also the risk that methadone could become a long-term solution for some people, rather than going through complete opioid detox. Of course, a physician may feel that this is okay for a patient, but it’s still something to know.

With a methadone treatment for heroin, the entire recovery plan shouldn’t just rely on the use of the methadone. Instead, the use of methadone treatment for heroin also needs to include counseling and support.

Staying in contact with your medical providers is also extremely important if you’re part of methadone treatment for heroin.

Summing Up—Heroin and Methadone

Heroin and methadone are two substances that are similar to each other in many ways but have different objectives. Both heroin and methadone affect the brain’s opioid receptors and the central nervous system, but methadone is a longer-acting substance that doesn’t create the high of heroin and can block the euphoria of opioids if someone does take them.

It does help to alleviate some of the symptoms of heroin or opioid withdrawal and methadone treatment for heroin may be an effective way to stop using drugs if it’s done under professional supervision.

While a methadone treatment for heroin may be a good option for many people addicted to the drug, they should be aware of the risks of methadone, and it should only be done as part of a comprehensive counseling plan.

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Editor – Nicole LaNeve
Nicole leads a team of passionate, experienced writers, editors and other contributors to create and share accurate, trustworthy information about drug and alcohol addiction, treatment and recovery for The Recovery Village and all Advanced Recovery Systems sites. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.