Methadone Maintenance for Opiate Addiction

The Basic Principles of a Methadone Maintenance Program

Fundamentals of Methadone Maintenance

With the number of people who fall prey to Opioid addiction rates still climbing, there’s a good chance that you know someone who has had their life turned upside-down by these dangerous drugs.

Perhaps it’s you yourself that is currently struggling with an Opioid addiction.

When you’re ready to take control of your life again, you need to make sure that you detox the right — and safe — way. Quitting cold turkey can have serious health risks, and may even cost you your life.

What’s the solution?

For many, it’s a methadone maintenance program.

But what is methadone maintenance, and how does the program work?

Read on to learn more about what you can expect out of a methadone maintenance program, and to decide whether or not it’s the right choice for you.

What is Methadone Maintenance?

Methadone maintenance, which is sometimes known as replacement therapy, is a form of drug therapy and rehabilitation for those with addictions to opioids.

Those who seek it out are given methadone in a pill or a liquid form over the course of their treatment.

Methadone works to stop the effects of opioids and prescription pain medication. This means that, over the course of your treatment, your body will begin to crave these opioids less and less.

You’ll also deal with far less severe symptoms of withdrawal than you would quitting cold turkey, or in some cases, even in a more traditional rehab center.

Usually, those who try methadone therapy are people who have not been successful with a more standard detox process in the past.

It’s also given to those who are about to enter into a rehab center and need help getting over the worst of their withdrawal. A maintenance program will help you to keep your sobriety, and also lower your chances of contracting HIV as a result.

It’s essential that you only try methadone maintenance at a licensed clinic. This is because it is possible to overdose on methadone if you’re not given the right amount, or if you’re given too high of a dosage within a certain time period.

So, how do you find the right dosage for you?

Usually, that depends on your height and weight, as well as the kind of opioid you’ve been taking. How much of the drugs you have been using is also a factor in the amount of methadone that you’ll need.

Fast Facts About Methadone Therapy

Now that you understand the more basic principles of methadone, let’s make sure you have all the information that you need.

One of the reasons why this treatment is so popular is because of the high methadone success rate. In fact, anywhere between 60-90% of those facing opioid addiction have been able to come off the drugs thanks to methadone.

Whether or not they’ve been able to keep their sobriety is up to the individual addict, of course. However, a methadone maintenance program has been proven to help addicts jump-start their overall rehabilitation process.

You should also be aware that methadone will be able to stay in your system for over 50 hours. This means that you won’t need to take methadone several times over the course of a day.

However, you need to be aware that a methadone maintenance program isn’t something you can complete in a week.

For many, you’ll get the methadone treatment that you need over the course of a few years. In general, you’ll check in about every 60-90 days to see how your body is responding.

Remember that methadone treatment doesn’t help you to “cure” your addiction. It’s not meant to be a replacement for traditional rehab and therapy. Instead, view it as a way to safely complete the detox part of your treatment program.

Are There Side Effects to Methadone Therapy?

While we hope that we’ve illustrated just a few of the many benefits of methadone, we also need to make you aware of the potential side effects.

Some users report that they have side effects that are a bit similar to those associated with standard withdrawal from drugs.

This means that you may have a little trouble falling and staying asleep. You may also experience a slight uptick in your anxiety levels, and notice that you’re a bit jittery throughout the day.

In some cases, those enrolled in methadone therapy have experienced a loss of appetite and a lowered sex drive.

You may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

You should let the professionals at your treatment program know you if you begin to have trouble breathing, or if you experience fainting spells and general feelings of lightheadedness.

Remember that the intensity and types of side effects that you experience while in a methadone treatment program will vary from person to person.

In general, you can expect the majority of these side effects to begin to fade or lessen after about two weeks in treatment.

So, the benefits of methadone certainly outweigh these potential side effects.

Interested in Finding a Methadone Maintenance Program?

We hope that this post has helped to educate you about whether or not a methadone maintenance program is a right choice for you.

Remember, while methadone will help with the initial symptoms of withdrawal, a maintenance program is meant to be a long-term solution to help you keep your sobriety.

You should expect to enroll in a maintenance program for a minimum of one year.

Looking to learn more about methadone therapy? Want to find the treatment program that’s right for you?

We can help. Contact us for resources and guidance at (855) 976-2092. Or you can spend some time on our website and blog to further understand how to take control back over your life.



[1] Kounang, N. (2017, June 30). Opioid addiction rates continue to skyrocket. Retrieved from

[2] Quitting Opioids Cold Turkey Made Me Want to Die. (2017, November 28). Retrieved from


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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