Surviving Opiate Addiction with Methadone Treatment

Stress is the most common thing a majority of the world deals with. It’s experienced by various age groups normally due to work pressure, studies, financial problems, and a host of other reasons. Though there are different types of stressors that cause stress, each one of us have different ways of dealing it. While some prefer options like medication, physical activities, dance, or music, others may prefer drugs.

Use of drugs—such as heroin, cocaine, or marijuana—has been on a constant rise in the United States. As a result, many people are suffering from drug addiction and its severe consequences.

Drug addiction is responsible for nearly 20,000 deaths annually in the United States; nearly 20 percent of U.S. residents, between the ages of 16 and 59, have illegally experimented with drugs.

Many families have lost their loved ones due to drug addiction and overdose. While researching more on drugs, I came across the term opiate addiction, which is causing devastating number of fatalities. After learning its negative effects and seeing people suffer gravely, it’s essential that I share some facts about opiate addiction and treatment to combat it.

What is an Opiate and How Is It Harmful?

An opiate is a natural drug derived from the opium plant. Though opiates are prescribed for cough suppression and to relieve acute pain, prolonged use of opiates can lead to abuse and addiction. Opiates include a variety of prescription drugs such as fentanyl, codeine, morphine as well as illegal drugs such as heroin and opium.

Opiate abuse and addiction has become an epidemic with a vast impact on the health worldwide. The United States is one of the largest global consumers of opiates; in 2013, 207 million opiate prescriptions were written in the U.S. alone.

Opiate addiction has both short-term as well and long-term effects that are equally severe. Short-term effects include feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, and sedation while long-term effects include liver damage, brain damage, abdominal distention and bloating, and nausea and vomiting.

Though there are many highly successful detoxification programs and drug rehabs to break free from opiate addiction, like the one in Homeward Bound, Dallas, there is another option I’d like to talk about: methadone treatment.

Methadone Maintenance for Opiate Addiction

Methadone has been described by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy as rigorously well-tested and safe and efficacious for individuals receiving treatment for opiate addiction. It’s a synthetic opiate that mimics the effect on certain brain receptors caused by heroin, morphine and other opiates.

Methadone maintenance treatment blocks the sedating and euphoric effects of opiates as well as eliminates the strong cravings for opiate addiction. The methadone maintenance treatment ensures complete elimination of cravings, thereby preventing patients from relapsing to opiate addiction and stick to the program. It is the safest and cost-effective treatment for opiate addiction.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have stated following benefits of methadone maintenance treatment:

  • Reduced mortality
    1. the median death rate of opiate-dependent individuals in methadone maintenance treatment is 30 percent of the rate of those not in MMT
  • Reduced risk of overdose
  • Reduced risk of acquiring or transmitting diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B or C
  • Improved family stability
  • Enhanced employment potential
  • Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their children


What is Methadone Treatment?

Methadone is a medication used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help people reduce and quit the use of opiate drugs. It’s a proven and effective medication for the treatment of opiate addiction—it’s also known as a substitution therapy that enables opiate addicted people to recover from their addiction and reclaim their active and healthy life.

Methadone treatment is conducted under the supervision of a physician. When a patient takes methadone as prescribed, it helps in combating addiction slowly and is safe and effective; it acts as an opioid replacement by reducing the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.

It works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain, easing the painful symptoms of opiate withdrawal and blocking the euphoric effects of opiate drugs. Methadone is offered in the form of pill and is taken once in a day.


Methadone as a Short-Term Detox Drug

Detox is a process used for drug and alcohol treatment that allows any toxins to leave the body while managing withdrawal symptoms. In heroin addiction treatment, using methadone as a short-term detox drug is still the preferable method by many centers, though it is essential to be cautious.

Methadone itself is a long-acting opioid that does not have instantaneous narcotic effects of heroin, which is a short-acting opioid. This makes it favorable to use as a short-term detox drug.

Using methadone as a detox drug can also make users develop tolerance and become dependent on the drugs if they are repeatedly exposed to it. Trying to get off methadone after becoming dependent leads to withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, chills, fever, runny nose, rapid heart rate and other physical effects.

Its long-term usage results in more severe psychological and physical dependence. Thus, methadone is favored for short-term maintenance therapy.


Benefits & Risks of methadone to combat opiate addiction

As it is said that some things come with both advantages and disadvantages, methadone too is associated with benefits and risks to combat opiate addiction. These risks are caused due to abuse of methadone for medication. Below are some of the pros and cons of methadone use.



Reduces infectious disease due to stopping opiate abuse, especially injection drug abuse Swelling of limbs, feet and hands
Helps in preventing relapse of opiates under treatment Restlessness, nausea, and vomiting
Reduces criminal activity Loss of appetite
Overall improvement in quality of life Irregular heartbeat
Improved social functioning Lowered blood pressure
Encourages better participation in addiction treatment by less withdrawal symptoms Respiratory issues
Prevents transmission of viral diseases such as HIV. Insomnia


I believe it’s important for an individual suffering from any addiction, to practice self-control over their habits while struggling to get rid of drugs. No treatment is effective until the addicted person also puts efforts in making his/her life better. It’s possible to achieve victory over addiction.

I hope the above information on opiate addiction has created awareness in you. If you ever come across someone who is suffering from addiction, do not hesitate to help in bringing their life back to track.

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