Methadone Maintenance for Opiate Addiction

When People Say Methadone Doesn’t Equal Recovery

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Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that upwards of 2 million Americans are addicted to opiates such as heroin and prescription opioids like oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin). While some methadone clinics may have experienced some controversy over the years, generally speaking, methadone recovery treatment is one of the best things to happen to the healthcare industry in terms of addiction assistance and treatment. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for help and rehabilitation nowadays, especially compared to half a century ago when drug use was oftentimes a life sentence that ruined people’s lives in the blink of an eye. Although drug use is still just as painful and dangerous, if not more so, you can rest assured that every methadone clinic is designed to make a genuine difference in the lives of those struggling with drugs. Let’s take a closer look at methadone treatment, and what it means when people say methadone is not related to recovery.

The Stigma Related To Methadone

For decades, methadone treatment has been giving those hooked on heroin a new beginning by presenting a way for them to gradually get off of opiates with minimal withdrawal symptoms. It’s really been since the 1950s that methadone treatment first came onto the scene to treat opioid dependence. However, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for proponents of methadone clinics, as they’ve had to tiptoe around an unfair, and untrue, stigma surrounding methadone.

Essentially, for many years, there’s been a generalization and stereotype that methadone treatment can’t work because it involves replacing one opiate with another, which would mean that those in recovery are still receiving an opiate intake of some kind. Critics of this treatment have said that those on methadone aren’t actually in recovery, because they aren’t clean and they’re still on drugs in a sense. However, this stigma does nothing but harm individuals who could truly benefit from methadone treatment, which is a safe and highly regulated treatment that prepares people for greater success in their future recovery.

While it’s been a long road to prove the naysayers wrong, the sheer number of methadone clinics in the United States and the popularity of this treatment plan – coupled with the number of inspiring success stories – goes to show that methadone can save lives. The majority of people who have been placed on a methadone treatment plan have nothing but good things to say about the entire process, including how it prepared them for the rest of their rehabilitation journey and their pathway to sobriety.

Methadone is a fantastic option that has been proven to save lives. It’s a real shame that those who have something against methadone fail to acknowledge the many benefits, including the lowered risk for overdose deaths and minimized harm during the withdrawal and recovery process.

Why You Shouldn’t Pay Naysayers Any Mind

Like anything in life, there are unfortunately always going to be some negative folks who just can’t seem to see the other side. This is true for methadone treatment as well, and while it’s understandable for there to be some general concerns, taking a closer look at this health care option allows everyone to see that methadone programs have far more positives than negatives. No patients should ever feel bad or guilty for being on the methadone program, so long as the medication is prescribed accurately and taken appropriately.

Over the years, there have been many individuals who were saved by methadone treatment, which allowed them to finally break free of their drug-fueled demons and their heroin addiction that just kept holding them down.

Harvard Medical School reports that more than 100,000 Americans are currently on a methadone maintenance treatment, which just goes to show that methadone has and will continue to have an inspiring impact on many lives. So long as methadone treatment is always completed in conjunction with counseling, group therapy, health and wellbeing sessions and more recovery activities, then this health care method has a high chance of success and sobriety.

Methadone Isn’t For Everyone, But It May Be For You & That’s Okay

If you or someone you love is considering methadone treatment, it’s important to keep in mind that like any health care plan, procedure or prescription, it may not be for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. By having open and honest conversations with your doctor, you will find this whole process to be easier, and they will help to answer any further questions you may have before starting methadone treatment.

Generally speaking, methadone seems to work best for those with chronic pain, heavy, long-term users and individuals who can’t seem to stop using drugs on their own. This is because methadone can be adopted as a long-term treatment plan in some cases. The process of tapering methadone doses and gradually weaning a patient off of it needs to happen slowly, and that’s why it’s crucial to be of healthy mind and body while taking part in this treatment. This way, you’ll be more likely to reach your end goal and say goodbye to your dismal drug habits, once and for all.

Compassion is The Answer No Matter The Path to Recovery

Addiction is a disease, and it certainly isn’t an easy thing to go through for anyone. It’s essential that you remember that addiction is not one size fits all, and what works for some people may not work for others. It’s truly a shame that some people cast such a negative light on methadone when it’s actually been a highly reputable, life-saving treatment option for nearly 70 years.

Rather than passing judgment on others who are so brave to try and face their addiction head-on, compassion should always be the answer. Treating people with addiction with respect, courtesy and kindness is a surefire way to support them in their new journey, which may be daunting and difficult in many regards. Those who shame and look down on patients in methadone clinics are doing more harm than good. If you can keep the objectives of methadone treatment in mind, you’ll be more well-informed and better able to support and encourage anyone who’s been courageous enough to tackle their drug problem! Methadone treatment will be a crucial part of stemming America’s opioid epidemic and putting people back on the path to a better life.

Sources


[1] The N-SSATS Report: Trends in the Use of Methadone and Buprenorphine at Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities: 2003 to 2011. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/N-SSATS%20Rprt%20Trnds%20Use%20Methadone%20&%20Buprenorphine%20at%20SA%20Trmt%20Facs%20%2003-11/N-SSATS%20Rprt%20Trnds%20Use%20Methadone%20&%20Buprenorphine%20at%20SA%20Trmt%20Facs%20%2003-11/sr107-NSSATS-Buprenorph.htm

[2] Methadone maintenance treatment – Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings – NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310658/

[3] Harvard Health Publishing. (2017, February 8). Treating opiate addiction, Part I: Detoxification and maintenance – Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/treating-opiate-addiction-part-i-detoxification-and-maintenance

 

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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