Recognizing and acknowledging the need for opiate addiction treatment is difficult because addicts often minimize, rationalize, or conceal their use while family and friends fear being intrusive or bearing the responsibility.
Is your spouse dependent upon or abusing opioids including heroin or prescription painkillers? Do they continue taking the drugs to avoid withdrawal or to maintain their “high”? Have they tried to quit on their own or been unsuccessful in other treatment programs?
These are all typical characteristics of an individual who can benefit from methadone maintenance treatment and if this describes your spouse, methadone maintenance treatment may be right for them.
What is Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
Methadone maintenance treatment provides daily dispensing of methadone under the supervision of qualified opioid treatment program (OTP) providers. Traditionally, these services were limited to methadone clinics in areas where heroin abuse was most rampant. Today, methadone maintenance treatment can be provided in a variety of settings and locations that make access to treatment more convenient and available to the thousands of people who need these life-saving services.
Methadone and buprenorphine are the only two pharmacological treatment approaches approved for long-term medication-assisted therapies in opioid addiction treatment programs. Methadone maintenance treatment has the longest running history of effectiveness by combining methadone with psychotherapy and counseling interventions. According to the Harvard Medical School, “this practice has better scientific support than any other treatment for any kind of drug or alcohol addiction.”
OTPs and their affiliated agencies, practitioners, and institutions are certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for dispensing methadone in accordance with the best and most up-to-date recommended practices and approved by the designated state authority of their operations. These programs offer the most comprehensive services your spouse can get with assurance that the treatment plans are monitored for successful outcomes. To find a local OTP provider, visit the SAMHSA website.
How Does Methadone Work?
Despite political controversy, scientific evidence continues to show us the consequences of drugs in brain functioning and on the various nervous systems throughout the body. At the same time, we can use these discoveries to advance our knowledge of beneficial uses for medicines to counter these effects and provide greater treatment opportunities for addiction, such as been proven with methadone.
Methadone doses reduce the cravings and withdrawals from illicit opioids for an average of 24 hours or more and blocks the effects of opioids once a cross-tolerance is achieved. At optimal doses, methadone improves overall health and corrects the chemical disruptions in the brain from frequent intoxication of short-acting opioids. The individual is able to focus on more important activities such as family responsibilities, work, or school versus the constant drug seeking and abuse behaviors of before.
Methadone maintenance is a long-term treatment option proven to reduce:
- Illicit drug use
- Needle sharing and the transmission of infections and diseases
- Criminal and other immoral activities
- Overdoses and deaths