Drug addiction treatment must be attended for the complete program length, as “research has shown unequivocally that good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, methadone treatment does not have one standard length for every patient, as its span is highly dependent on the patient’s background, dependency on opioids, current recovery situation, and other needs.
How Long is Methadone Treatment Generally?
If you are merely being weaned off opioids––or methadone specifically––and using the drug as an assistant in your withdrawal, it may take from one week up to a month or so. But medically-assisted withdrawal is not the same as addiction treatment, and methadone maintenance, a program that treats opioid addiction itself, often lasts much longer.
The NIDA states that treatment should usually last longer than 90 days for it to be fully effective, but “for methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum.” An individual using this method should understand that it sometimes takes a while to become fully stabilized on the drug and, once they are, they may even decide not to go off the medication. “Some opioid-addicted individuals continue to benefit from methadone maintenance for many years,” even for the rest of their lives.
For these reasons, it is difficult to determine how long any individual’s methadone maintenance will last, but 12 months or more is the general length of time. Patients who are on methadone for less than this amount of time are usually unable to receive its total benefits or make a strong recovery, and almost no methadone doctor would suggest a maintenance phase that short.
How Long Will My Personal Methadone Treatment Program Be?
This is a question to ask your doctor once you begin or are able to discuss the concept of methadone maintenance. Because your case is unique, you may require a shorter or longer treatment span from the norm based on several factors, including:
- The severity of your addiction
- The intensity of your dependence on opioids/methadone
- Your age
- Your tolerance level
- Your opioid use and abuse history
- Your current medical status
- Your comfort level with the program
Many people who feel comfortable with methadone maintenance see no reason why they should rush to withdraw from the medication. After all, it can help a person live their life without having to focus on their cravings, withdrawal symptoms, or other issues associated with their addiction. And if you are not experiencing any troubling side effects, you like the clinic and your doctor, and attending the program is not difficult for you, you may decide to continue it longer than the typical 12 months.
Methadone Treatment Lengths and Your Recovery
As stated by the NIDA, “Because successful outcomes often depend on a person’s staying in treatment long enough to reap its full benefits, strategies for keeping people in treatment are critical.” If you decide on a treatment schedule with your methadone doctor, it is important to try and keep to it, and to at least attend the program for a year or longer. But your personal treatment length will be based on you and your needs. If you would like to find a methadone center near you, call 800-530-0431.