Cultural Issues Related to Methadone Addiction

Cultural Issues Related to Methadone AddictionMethadone is traditionally a part of opiate addiction treatment, but it is increasingly used as a painkiller. Some doctors prefer its long half-life and muted euphoric effects, but the expanded use led to a spike in access. In 2009 the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) published the following information on methadone issues:

  • Amount of methadone distribution rose 9 to 22 percent annually from 2000 to 2007
  • The growth occurred in every formulation, i.e., liquid, tablets and dispersible tablets
  • Methadone tablets accounted for the largest increase, up 700% between 1998 and 2006
  • The majority of methadone addicts also abused other substances

Despite its use in treatment, methadone is highly addictive, and users can manipulate tablets (e.g., crush to snort or inject them) for a more effective high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website notes that methadone is involved in 30% of all painkiller-related overdose deaths, but it only makes up 2% of the prescriptions.

Culture and Methadone Abuse

The CDC website states that death for opiate users is highest for whites, males and adults aged 35 to 54. Likewise, the 2008 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse categorized drug use along ethnic lines, which revealed the following information:

  • The highest rate (14.7%) was for those identified with multiple ethnic groups
  • African Americans (10%) and American Indians/Alaskan Natives (9.5%) followed
  • White Americans (8.2%) were the fourth-largest ethnic group followed by Hispanics (6.2%)
  • Asian Americans (3.6%) had the lowest drug-use numbers

The Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse looked at ethnic identity and methadone treatment in a 2008 report and revealed a stronger sense of ethnic identity was tied to a greater use of drugs.

Methadone Use Demographics

Methadone addiction usually develops during treatment for chronic pain or opiate abuse, and recreational use usually has more to do with circumstantial access than culture. The drug is generally not the opiate of choice for the following reasons:

  • The risks are higher
  • The rewards are fewer
  • Access is more limited

In 2010, SAMHSA issued a report on opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in the US. Using data from 2008 surveys, the report counted nearly 300,000 methadone patients for the year and provided the following data on OTPs:

  • 45% of them are in large central metropolitan areas
  • 16% in large fringe metropolitan areas
  • 32% in small metropolitan areas
  • 4% in non-metropolitan areas with a city
  • 3% in a non-metropolitan area without a city

Metropolitan areas account for 93% of the OTP centers, but urbanites are not the main users. According to an American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse study in 2012, rural users had much higher rates of methadone abuse.

Drug Abuse Rehab

Professional rehab treats methadone addiction with the following services:

  • Medically supervised detox in a comfortable setting
  • Integrated treatment for co-occurring mood disorders
  • Counseling to identify drug use triggers
  • Behavioral therapies to improve outlook and attitude
  • Holistic treatments for patients with chronic pain

Cultural issues have a minimal impact on methadone use, but they can influence users’ decision to seek help, especially those who worry about cultural insensitivity in rehab. However, many programs cater to different faiths, cultures and languages.

Methadone Addiction Recovery

Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to explain treatment options and answer questions. If you have health insurance, we can also check your policy for rehab coverage. Call our toll-free helpline now to start your recovery.