If you have been considering methadone treatment, or if you are an addict who is ready to seek help for your addiction to heroin or opiates, there are a few things you should know about methadone and a methadone maintenance program. Methadone maintenance can be a highly effective way of recovering from addiction, but there are risks inherent to methadone use that you should be aware of before you begin treatment.
As with any treatment program, you should always talk to your doctor and therapist and make sure that you both agree that methadone is right for you before beginning treatment. Here are a few important things to be aware of when it comes to methadone maintenance.
What is a Methadone Maintenance Program?
Like prescription pills and heroin, methadone is an opiate. Unlike drugs like heroin, methadone is legal, and is considered to be a much safer alternative to heroin. Because drugs like heroin and other opiates are so addictive and can have such a strong grasp on a person's reward receptors, methadone maintenance can help a recovering addict transition into sobriety because it impacts the brain in a very similar way that heroin and opiates do, so an addict will not suffer such severe withdrawal symptoms as they would if they were to stop using opiates all together.
Methadone is dispensed under the supervision of a doctor who writes a prescription for the drug. In the early stages of a methadone program, you will likely need to go into a doctor's office or pharmacy each time you take your dose of methadone. This is because your doctor will want to ensure that you take the mediation correctly. As the program progresses, you may be given doses that you can self administer at home.
How Methadone Works
Methadone helps prevent relapse and severe withdrawal symptoms by satisfying the brain's reward receptors. When you are on methadone, you will likely exhibit greatly diminished cravings for heroin.
Methadone is a long-term drug. It's effects last from two to four days, so when your doctor changes your dose, it may take a few days for you to feel it. Methadone is intended to be taken over a long period of time.
Your doctor will work with you to devise a plan that will make it possible for you to eventually be without the use of any opiates whatsoever. Your doctor will do this by "tapering down" or lowering your dose slowly over a long period of time.
Methadone is Not a Replacement For Treatment
Methadone is not intended to replace a drug treatment program. On the contrary, it is intended to be used in conjunction with therapy, in patient treatment, and attendance to a twelve step program. Methadone works by allowing the body to feel at ease so that you may be free to take the steps necessary to develop the tools to stay safe and sober over the course of your entire lifetime. It is not advisable for you to take methadone without undergoing treatment.
There Are Still Dangers Associated with Methadone
Methadone is safer than heroin or prescription opiates, but that does not mean that it doesn't carry risks. It is crucial that you follow your methadone maintenance plan exactly as outlined by your doctor. It is possible to overdose on methadone, so you should never take more than the dosage that has been prescribed to you.
You should also never give any of your prescription to another person or take any of another person's prescription. If you have questions about your treatment, you should not hesitate to contact your doctor.