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Should You Use Methadone Treatment for Drug Rehab?

Methadone is a powerful drug rehabilitation tool that may help opiate addicts take control of their cravings. However, it is an extremely habit-forming substance itself, and many drug rehab patients have developed even more severe addictions after taking it. Its use has been highly controversial for decades, and some countries have even banned it in clinical settings. Addicts considering methadone treatment should carefully weigh the pros and cons before making their decisions.

What is Methadone?

Like heroin, methadone is an opiate – a class of drugs which produce euphoric and pain-reducing effects. Originally developed as a pain-relieving alternative to morphine in the 1930s, it is sometimes prescribed to cancer patients. More commonly, methadone clinics give controlled doses to heroin addicts to help them gradually reduce their opiate dependencies. Some of these clinics are free and open to the public, while others are private and costly. Most United States methadone clinics exist in California, New York, and other highly-populated coastal states.

The Benefits of Methadone

The main benefit of methadone treatment is that it allows people to abruptly cease heroin use. Without medication, heroin withdrawal can bring about potentially deadly symptoms such as heart palpitations and cardiac arrest. Being able to “quit” by switching to clinically-sourced methadone also protects addicts from contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other pathogens which can reside on used needles. Finally, the gradual reduction in opiate use may be the best way for some addicts to wean themselves of their physical drug dependencies and stay sober in the long term.

The Dangers of Opiate Treatment

The practice of using one opiate to treat the addiction to another has been in place for several decades. While it has sometimes proven effective, all of these drugs have potentials for dangerous side effects and new addictions. Potentially harmful effects of methadone include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Body fat gain
  • Seizures
  • Moodiness and aggression

Struggling with Methadone Addiction

The side effects of methadone treatment are indeed troubling, but the greatest danger by far is the development of a completely new addiction. Some researchers believe addiction is less likely than with other opiates because of methadone’s slow metabolic breakdown and dopamine response. However, drug rehab patients who do become hooked have reported that methadone dependency is far more difficult to overcome than their heroin addictions.

To mitigate this risk, most clinics have strict daily limits on the doses they can give to patients. However, certain states don’t have any restrictions because they believe small doses will be ineffective for some patients. The pharmaceutical companies which produce methadone also tend to lobby against these restrictions, claiming that addicts need more of their drugs to get better.

Your Last Resource

Ultimately, methadone treatment should be the last option for addicts seeking help. It can certainly be effective for reducing heroin dependency, but the risk of new addictions is severe. People who do choose to undergo methadone treatment should also attend some type of counseling at a drug rehab facility. Methadone may help treat the physical component of heroin addiction, but addressing its underlying personal causes is crucial for long-term sobriety.

If you’re considering methadone treatment or other rehab services, call the number at the top of your screen now. Our dedicated specialists are standing by day and night to help you on your road to recovery. We’ll customize a drug rehab program that will suit your specific needs and allow you to begin living the life you truly desire. Get started now.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More