Methadone is used to treat pain by blocking receptors in the brain. Most people have heard it used in connection with treatment for those addicted to Heroin and other opiates. Since Methadone is a controlled substance and contains similar properties and effects as opiates, is it really a wise tool for the treatment of addiction? Is it just a legal substitute that allows addicts to continue getting high without threat of legal consequence? How can an addict overcome his disease if he’s still using?
Physicians have long known that methadone produces dependency. What they don’t want to readily admit is that it does get patients high though it’s a mellower, longer lasting effect. One healthcare website stated:
"Methadone is a narcotic pain reliever, similar to morphine. Methadone also reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs without causing the "high" associated with the drug addiction."
Former drug users have much to say on the matter and they staunchly refute the notion that methadone does not produce a high.
“I can assure you, being a recovering addict who's drug of choice was opiates, that methadone can get you "lifted" and because of this, can be very dangerous and should be used with care if one is so inclined to use it,” wrote one anonymous user.
“Methadone can get you high, trust us addicts, we know more than the doctors, we have first hand experience instead of gettin it out of a book. Not to insult doctors but it is what it is.”
Clearly those who are struggling with addiction aren’t even convinced that methadone is really helping them. Even those who admit that “(methadone) saved my life,” still concede that they have to fight the urge to get high on faster acting opiates. Methadone is used to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal yet, months and even years later, recovering addicts are still taking it daily.
The point of treatment for addiction is to help the addict learn coping skills, behavioral changes and exercises to give him the skills to live a clean and sober life. Methadone may alleviate symptoms of withdrawal. But using it becomes just another dependency problem—a vicious cycle with no end in sight.
Some experts believe that a bit of discomfort is actually desirable when treating addiction. Masking the symptoms of withdrawal completely simply does not drive home how serious the addiction is. Therefore, the addict doesn’t grasp the importance of abstinence. No pain, no gain. Others argue that too much pain may be the reason many addicts shy away from treatment, though they may want it.
Now that the addict has stopped using heroin, how do we get him off the methadone? This is the big question because the government thinks the methadone is a cure for the addict and they subsidize the methadone treatment. However they will not help an addict get off the methadone, many methadone clinics say they will tapper the addict off the methadone but this very rarely happens. More often the clinics will up the methadone dose to a point that the addict cannot get off. Even if the addict or the addict’s family has the money to put the addict through an expensive treatment program that will help them come off the methadone, most centers will only take a methadone addict that is on a daily dose of less than 40 mg. so the whole situation turns in a hopeless direction. Many addicts that have been on a methadone treatment and have stopped using the methadone are back on Heroin or whatever their opiate of choice was before the methadone.
The best solution to opiate addiction is a long term in house rehabilitation program that focuses on the addict as an individual. One on one counseling through cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be one of the most successful approaches to drug rehabilitation. The cookie cutter programs with group meetings and group therapy are a cheap way to put addicts through treatment but it rarely is successful.
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