Those who believe choosing methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is just a way of shifting one’s addiction onto another substance are actually incorrect. The treatment is incredibly beneficial for helping addicts end their dangerous abuse of opioids, and undergoing this recovery option does not cause a person to become addicted to methadone if it is performed correctly.
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Why Do People Believe MMT is the Same as Addiction?
According to Harvard Medical School, the use of methadone as a treatment for addiction is still considered somewhat “politically controversial” because many individuals believe the only way to true recovery is abstinence.
Unfortunately, this is not a possible option for every individual, and medications like methadone may need to be taken daily for a long period of time and possibly for the rest of the individual’s life for them to safely avoid relapse.
Many people see MMT as the same as addiction because the individual takes the drug every day and because methadone itself can be habit-forming when taken in large doses. But under a doctor’s treatment in a licensed and regulated methadone clinic, the drug is completely safe for use as well as unlikely to cause the issues associated with a substance abuse disorder.
MMT vs. Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states, “Buprenorphine and methadone are prescribed or administered under monitored, controlled conditions and are safe and effective for treating opioid addiction when used as directed.” This is very much the opposite of addiction, which is the uncontrolled abuse of a substance to the point of problematic side effects.
- One does not shift their addiction onto methadone during MMT because they are not taking addictive doses of the drug. The doses do not cause euphoria or drowsiness, and it is safe for someone on the medication to drive a car and live their daily life.
- Patients on MMT do not seek out the drug to their own detriment like they did when they were abusing opioids.
- The drug does not have severe side effects when doses are regulated carefully. In treatment, patients will not take more methadone than they need to avoid withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids.
- There is no cycle of getting high, crashing, and craving the drug during MMT, which is what defines addiction. Instead, the medication has a long onset of action, which means the individual will experience its effects slowly and mildly instead of all at once.
Addiction and maintenance are two completely different things. Yes, a person taking methadone is dependent on it, but this does not mean their use of the drug is problematic or uncontrolled. It is completely safe and healthy to take methadone under a doctor’s prescription as a maintenance program.
Do You Need Methadone Maintenance for Opioid Addiction?
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