6 Myths on Methadone Maintenance

Medical-assisted treatment (MAT) has increased the success rate of many rehabilitation programs for opiate addictions. There are a few medicated treatments that are available at certified treatment centers that help opiate addicts fight through the suffering of withdrawals and overcome the cravings, such as Methadone, maintenance. There are many myths on Methadone maintenance that need to be addressed prior to utilizing it as an effective treatment plan.

Methadone maintenance with treatment modalities achieved a 60 to 90% success rate for a long-term sobriety lifestyle.

According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, Methadone Treatment Issues, “Governor Wilson’s study of drug treatment outcomes in the 1980’s documented that Methadone saved the taxpayers $12 for every $1 spent. Failure to engage more opiate addicts in Methadone treatment has tremendous adverse consequences, both for public health and safety. The UCLA study documented repeated incarcerations, and deaths due to accidents, infections, and violence that could have been prevented by a more aggressive use of Methadone.”

There is controversy, as there always is, on whether Methadone maintenance sobriety is actual sobriety. Whether a heavy Heroin Addict taking a dose of Methadone every day is trading one addiction for another. The truth is, Methadone maintenance has been a method of treatment for nearly 50 years and statistics don’t lie; it actually works.

However, there are rumors or myths about Methadone maintenance that discourage many from taking advantage of this medication.

Myth #1: Methadone deteriorates the body, more directly, the bones and teeth of the addicts those take this drug on a regular basis. Again this medication has been administered for 50 years, studies show there is no accelerated breakdown of teeth or bone density. Long-term maintenance of Methadone causes no adverse effects to the heart, liver, blood, lungs, kidneys, bones, brain, or other vital body organs.  Methadone does have side effects such as constipation, increased sweating, dry mouth, and urinary retention. Furthermore, each week the addict is on Methadone it is tapered to a lower dosage. Starting at 40mg, depending on the seriousness of addiction, is tapered down to 2mg.

Myth #2: Methadone is a substitute for heroin or prescription opiates. Methadone is a medication that treatments Opiate addiction, it does not substitute for heroin. Methadone is long-lasting that requires one dosage a day. Heroin lasts for a couple hours and generally takes at least four daily doses to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring. Methadone does not induce a euphoric feeling or numb someone to the sensation of pain.

Myth #3: Methadone causes infertility. Methadone does lower serum testosterone in men. However, wearing too tight of undergarments also lowers serum testosterone in men too. If this is a major concern with the recovering addict, this issue can be addressed with a primary physician. Since the dosage is tapered over time, this issue is not permanent and can decrease over time once the minimal dosage is reached during the program.

Myth #4: Patients who are on a stable dose of Methadone become addicted to the Methadone. Those who take Methadone are physically dependent on it, but not addicted to it. When something stressful occurs in one’s life, the person does not pop a Methadone to handle it. Methadone is taken once a day, the therapy received in treatment along with the Methadone is used to handle stressors. People with chronic illnesses are physically dependent on their medication to sustain a healthy life; insulin for diabetes, blood pressure pills for hypertension, and inhalers for asthma. Methadone should be viewed in the same light.

Myth #5: Patients who are stable on their Methadone dose are not able to perform well in many jobs. Methadone does not sedate or provide the user with any euphoric feelings. The most common description of how a person feels on Methadone is “normal.” Unless this medication is abused, there should be no impairment of function to daily activities or job responsibilities.

Myth #6: Methadone is not for pregnant women and can harm the fetus. 50 years of research has shown that a pregnant woman addicted to Opiates has the best possible outcome for herself and her unborn child if she takes either Methadone or Buprenorphine. Continuing Opiate abuse is more detrimental than tapering doses of Methadone. Methadone is taken once a day, whereas 4 repeated doses a day are required for Heroin to curb life-threatening withdrawals. Methadone does not cause any deformities in the fetus and does not show any cognitive or any other abnormalities in the development of a child. Please consult a doctor about addiction and pregnancy to be more educated on the ramifications of medication and fetus development.

Sharing is Caring: Speak up & Help Out Your Fellow Recovering Addict

Opiate addiction does not just affect the user but everyone the user knows and loves. Addiction, if not properly funded, can destroy families, lives, and one’s health. Considering Methadone as a treatment saves lives and reunites families. Myths that prevent those from seeking help prolong the suffering of those who want to be productive citizens to our society.

If you know someone or are someone who uses methadone to curb your addiction and maintain a healthy lifestyle, comment below and share your success with others who are on the fence about their treatment.

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