According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, “A number of studies have looked at the effectiveness of methadone programs, and a majority of them have found that methadone can reduce narcotics related deaths, heroin users’ involvement in crime, the spread of AIDS, and also help users gain control of their lives.”
However, methadone abuse and addiction are still dangerous possibilities that can occur, so the question remains: can methadone treat methadone addiction?
Treating Methadone Addiction with Methadone
Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) may be a necessary option for addiction treatment of the same drug. While this may seem like a conflict of interest, there are many times where the drug itself is a better option for a patient than the use of another addiction treatment drug like buprenorphine or naltrexone.
If a person has serious issues staying away from opioid abuse and relapse, naltrexone usually isn’t the best choice, as the drug can be very difficult for relapsing addicts to tolerate. What’s more, buprenorphine “is unlikely to be as effective as more optimal-dose methadone,” so those who have severe physical and psychological dependencies on the drug will often need to continue using it (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
Though to many it may seem that treating methadone addiction with the drug itself is dangerous, there are ways that it can be done safely and to the benefit of the individual. It is also important to remember these facts:
- MMT is not the same as abuse.
- The drug is given in much smaller doses than those typically abused to create euphoria.
- Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are entrusted to monitor the individual’s intake of the drug and to prevent the person from using more than they should.
- MMT is a well-rounded treatment program that involves more than just the dispensing of methadone.
How Can Treatment Be Done Safely?
It is important to consider each individual patient and their needs before they begin treatment. For example, the individual may have been abusing methadone in the past by taking the drug home and taking more than they were prescribed.
In this instance, inpatient treatment where the individual will be monitored 24/7 in a controlled environment could be necessary for the start of recovery. The patient may also benefit from going to a clinic every day instead of taking their medication home.
The healthcare professionals in charge of treatment have a duty to ensure that the individual will not be able to abuse their medication, but MMT may still be the best option for the individuals who begin treatment for this type of opioid addiction. Methadone is a strong medication that can treat addiction if taken correctly, and those who receive the drug will often benefit if they take it as prescribed.