Benefits and Risks of Using Methadone

Benefits and Risks of Using MethadoneMethadone is a prescription drug that is commonly used in opiate replacement therapy, a process in which substitutes a strong drug like heroin for a weaker drug with less euphoric and addictive properties. This tapered approach reduces the body’s physical dependence while eliminating the high. The benefits of methadone stem from its ability to help addicts through opiate withdrawal symptoms, but its use still comes with risks. For this reason, the law says methadone treatment centers are the only places that doctors can prescribe the drug.

How Methadone Works

Opiate replacement therapy acts like a ladder that helps the patient step down from a harder addiction. The methadone will require its own treatment later, but it can immediately provide the following benefits:

  • The ability to focus on the addiction separately from the physical dependency
  • Fulfills the body’s opiate need without the opiate high
  • Potential psychological benefits to overcome the addiction
  • Methadone stays in the system for 3 to 10 times as long as heroin, which helps users quit the habit of taking drugs

As helpful as these benefits can be, there are risks. Methadone use acts like a diet. A person may switch out regular cookies for a low-fat brand, and that would help weight loss, but even the alternative can be unhealthy if taken in excess. Similarly, methadone can provide some benefits, but inherent dangers still exist.

Dangers of Methadone Use

Some people have nearly died from methadone overdose, and the drug has caused the death of others. In other words, this opiate-replacement drug can be nothing less than deadly if abused or taken improperly. Here are some of the dangers of using this substance:

  • Potentially lethal consequences when combined with alcohol, which is complicated by the extended time the drug stays in the body
  • The drug can slow the user’s respiratory rate, especially if taken with other substances
  • The withdrawal symptoms from methadone can be as difficult as those of heroin
  • Patients who become addicted to methadone in treatment have higher rates of heroin relapse
  • A laundry list of undesirable side effects

Methadone is a popular opiate-replacement drug, but it is not the only one. There are others, but all such medications come with potential drawbacks. For this reason, only addiction doctors can prescribe this addictive medication.

Methadone and Addiction

Heroin addicts need to discuss methadone use with a doctor since certain variables make certain people have different reactions. If the doctor prescribes methadone, patients need help taking that next step away from all opiates. Abruptly ceasing methadone use will produce withdrawals that even trump heroin, which is why a tapered detox under medical supervision is so important.

Still, whether someone is getting off methadone or using it to get off heroin, the treatment center will employ behavioral tools and other therapies to empower recovery. This treatment includes the following methods:

  • Treating any co-occurring conditions like depression, anxiety or mania
  • Purging unhealthy habits and instilling positive ones
  • Recognizing personal drug-use triggers and how to avoid them
  • Group support and aftercare counseling

Addiction treatment helps remove substance abuse from someone’s life, but it also empowers people to enjoy a more positive and balanced lifestyle.

Methadone Addiction Help

Are you addicted to heroin, methadone or other opiates? Our caring staff is available 24 hours a day to help. Call our toll-free helpline to talk about your substance abuse, treatment options and whether opiate replacement therapy is right for you. We can also check health insurance policies for coverage. Call today and let us help.