methadone treatment for opioid dependence

How Does Methadone Work?

If you or someone you know is dealing with opiate addiction, you aren’t alone. Opiate addiction can happen to anyone, and many people that are addicted want a way to get clean.

Methadone has been hailed as a way to wean off of opiates, but some people are worried about using medication to stop their addiction to painkillers.

Do you ever find yourself wondering “how does methadone work?” We’re here to tell you what you need to know.

How Does Methadone Work?

Think of methadone as a different kind of medication. It’s a is a long-acting synthetic opioid analgesic that some people use for pain relief, but many more use it to treat addiction to strong opiates and opioids.

Think of methadone as your brain’s physical defense against the chemicals that opiates and heroin can release. Methadone works by filling up the brain receptor sites that would usually be affected by heroin and other opiates.

Methadone blocks the euphoric and sedating effects of opiates, but since it’s an opioid itself it also helps relieve cravings and symptoms associated with withdrawal from opiates.

Is Methadone Safe?

If you’re wondering how does methadone work, you may also be wondering if it’s safe to use to detox off of opiates. Methadone is safe for detox, but only under the supervision of a doctor and/or an addiction counselor.

It’s important to keep in mind that methadone is a medication and that it can have side effects like any other medicine. But people that take methadone according to doctor’s orders rarely experience negative side effects.

What Should I Know About Methadone?

When you’re asking yourself how does methadone work, it’s safe to assume that you may not know much about the medication.

Before you decide if methadone treatment is right for you or your loved one, take some time to learn a bit about methadone’s history and how it’s worked for other people.

Methadone Has Been Used To Treat Addiction For Years

There are a lot of myths about methadone treatment, one of which is that it’s a new drug. Methadone may seem like relatively new drug treatment, but it’s actually been used to treat heroin addiction for decades.

Doctors Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander pioneered what was known as a methadone maintenance treatment for opiates in the 1960s.

Their work was revolutionary at the time. People were looking for a good way to treat heroin addiction but didn’t have much success with the medications they were using.

MMT changed the lives of the test subjects. Alleged lifelong addicts were able to stop their habits, reconcile with family members, work, and generally get their lives back in order.

Their methods have evolved and grown over the years, but the two doctors laid the groundwork for modern addiction treatment today.

Methadone Is a Legitimate Medication

People that are currently abusing opiates can be worried about trading one addiction for another. The truth is that methadone is a medication that can treat addiction problems.

When patients take methadone daily and reach a stable dose, they don’t report feelings of euphoria or feeling “high”. They feel normal and can go about their days.

This is why it’s important to only use methadone under a doctor’s or rehabilitation center’s care. They can ensure that you’re only taking therapeutic doses and can control your access to medication.

Methadone The Most Effective Opiate Addiction Treatments

If you’re asking yourself “how does methadone work”, you’re also asking yourself if it actually can work to treat your addiction.

Statistically, methadone is the most effective opiate treatment. The methadone treatment success rate can range anywhere from 60% to 90%.

It’s also important to know that success can take on more forms than quitting opiates.

Methadone treatment can reduce the risk of overdose or transmitting diseases like HIV and Hepatitis. It could also reduce criminal activity, and lead to more positive employment outcomes.

In terms of numbers and the sheer amount of positive outcomes, methadone treatment can be the best options for people.

Methadone Can Treat Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the reasons why some people delay stopping the use of opiates is because they’re worried about having to go through withdrawal.

Withdrawal can be a physically and emotionally intense experience. But luckily, the right methadone treatment can help alleviate the symptoms.

The aches, pains, and flu-like symptoms people experience during withdrawal can be easily helped with methadone. The same goes for digestive discomforts like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Methadone can also help drastically decrease cravings for a patient. This can help people psychologically deal with their treatments better, and make them less likely to relapse.

Methadone Treatment Can Give You More Freedom

A lot of people Googling the phrase “how does methadone work” want to go into treatment for opiate addiction, but are worried about how it will interfere with their lives.

Work, family care, and other responsibilities can make getting an extended stay in an in-person treatment facility difficult. Luckily, methadone can help people treat their problems and still live their lives.

Methadone with outpatient treatment can help you maintain your lifestyle and get clean.

Methadone is long lasting, it can stay in your system for 24-36 hours. Some people are able to go to their treatment facility, get their medicine, then go about their day.

Therapy Can (And Should) Be Paired With Methadone

If you choose to use methadone to stop abusing opiates, know that methadone alone isn’t the only way for you to stop using.

Physically finding a way to end your dependency on drugs is important, but it’s also important to treat the psychological reasons behind why you want to use opiates.

Drug counseling and therapy can do wonders for people trying to end their addiction. Individual therapy, group therapy, or a mix of both can help people when they’re detoxing and can help well after they’re clean.

Next Steps

Now that you know how effective methadone can be, you may be eager to learn more about methadone and treating opiate addiction.

Check out our post on opiate withdrawal remedies so you can be prepared to handle some of the unpleasant side effects of detox. To get proper assistance with opiate addiction, consider reaching out for help.

And remember, we have a lot of useful information about methadone on our site. Browse our site or contact (855) 976-2092 to learn the best way to use methadone for opiate addiction.



[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from

[2] NIDA International Program. (n.d.). Methadone Research Web Guide. Retrieved from



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