Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Methadone maintenance is a treatment method for Heroin and opiates that can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and minimize cravings by using methadone. Here’s what you’ll find on this page:

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a long acting opiate drug that is used in the heroin detoxification process. During the 1960s, heroin abuse was becoming a real issue and two researchers, Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander, discovered that Methadone relieved the craving for heroin, and prevented withdrawal symptoms. Since then, methadone has been used to help people addicted to drugs like heroin, morphine, and codeine.

How does methadone work?

Methadone is an opiate agonist, which means it binds to receptors in your brain, effectively blocking cravings,and eliminating withdrawal symptoms, because it tricks your brain into thinking you’re taking the drugs you’re trying to get off.

How effective is methadone maintenance?

Methadone maintenance treatment has been shown to be effective in improving daily function, as well as lessening the withdrawal effects of various narcotic drugs, like heroin. Methadone maintenance has been shown to be more effective than other treatments, including detoxification, no treatment, buprenorphine, LAAM, and heroin plus methadone.

Methadone treatment has been found to be effective in reducing:

  • The use of illicit drugs
  • Criminal activity
  • Needle sharing
  • HIV infection rates and transmission
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Commercial sex work
  • Number of reports of multiple sex partners
  • Suicide
  • Lethal overdose

It’s also been shown to improve social health and productivity, as well as retention in addiction treatment centers.

A second phase of withdrawal is sometimes experienced with methadone maintenance, but usually by fewer patients. Symptoms can include aches, insomnia and loss of appetite, and are likely attributed to tapering off methadone.

Is methadone safe?

Methadone can be addictive. Taking the proper dose, as prescribed, is essential to successful treatment.

How much methadone will I need?

Methadone dosing on your own is highly discouraged. Because methadone use can itself become an issue of addiction, methadone maintenance should be undertaken in a medical environment and overseen by a professional staff.

There is no single answer to how much methadone you will need. The amount of methadone required for therapeutic effect depends on many factors, including:

  • Body metabolism
  • Body weight
  • Type of drug being used
  • Amount of drug being used

A proper does of methadone will eliminate cravings without causing a high or euphoric state.

How long do I need to be in treatment?

A treatment counselor will work with you to determine what’s needed for long-term success. Methadone maintenance often occurs over a period of years, with re-evaluation every 60-90 days. In addition, counseling and other therapeutic work is essential to your success.

VIDEO: Methadone Maintenance

Methadone maintenance can be a controversial issue. Dr. Zona responds to a caller on the issue on KCAA radio, October 13, 2009.

Questions and Answers

Here are some common questions and answers about methadone maintenance, including research on effectiveness of treatment, implications for HIV, criminal activity, employment, and issues for women, pregnant women, and infants. For those with concerns that you or a loved one might be suffering from a methadone addiction learn more about the detox process and how you or your loved one can attain sobriety, today.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment
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