20 Myths About Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Methadone maintenance treatment remains a standard treatment for helping addicts overcome the effects of chronic opiate addiction. With a 50-year history of research and application, methadone maintenance treatment has proven to be an effective treatment therapy, according to the University of Washington. Methadone works as a replacement therapy in terms of helping addicts better manage the withdrawal and drug cravings effects left behind by chronic opiate abuse.

In spite of its long-standing history, myths abound regarding methadone’s safety and effectiveness. For anyone who has reservations about just how methadone works, here are 20 commonly heard myths about methadone maintenance treatment.

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  1. Methadone is just a substitute for other addictive opiates.

Addiction operates in the same way as a chronic, long-term medical condition. Just as diabetes sufferers require periodic treatment, someone recovering from a chronic opiate addiction requires ongoing treatment. In this respect, methadone’s effects work to support damaged brain cell functions until the brain resumes normal functioning on its own.

  1. Methadone produces a “high” effect.

While methadone does belong to the same class of drugs as heroin and prescription pain medications, it’s formulated to produce a controlled, long-lasting effect that does not produce a “high.” Whereas addictive opiates require repeated doses in order to maintain a “high,” methadone is only taken once a day.

  1. Methadone is addictive.

Addiction stems from a psychological dependency on a drug’s effects, not a physical dependency. Over time, the brain does come to depend on methadone’s effects in terms of keeping withdrawal and drug cravings effects at bay. At no point does a person develop a psychological dependency on the drug.

  1. Methadone leaves you in a sedated state, unable to function normally.

People on stable doses of methadone experience no sedating effects. In therapeutic doses, methadone’s effects stabilize brain chemical processes allowing a person to feel “normal.” Someone experiencing sedating effects most likely requires a dosage adjustment in order to reap the intended benefits of methadone maintenance treatment.

  1. Methadone destroys the bones.

Unfounded claims that methadone enters the bone marrow, depletes the body’s calcium supplies and rots the teeth may deter many a person from considering methadone maintenance treatment. As one of the most heavily regulated prescription medications, no evidence of bone damage has been recorded to date.

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  1. Pregnant women should not take methadone.

    methadone uses

    Methadone is a beneficial treatment that has helped many people recover from addiction.

Pregnant women addicted to opiates face a high risk of miscarriage as well as any number of fetal abnormalities and/or birth defects. Methadone offers a safe and effective treatment therapy for pregnant women with far better pregnancy outcomes than continued opiate use or trying to abstain from drug use on one’s own.

  1. Methadone makes men sterile.

Methadone does carry a side effect profile; however, sterility is not one of the side effects associated with methadone use. In some cases, the drug can lower serum testosterone levels, though this condition is easily treatable.

  1. Methadone makes it legal to get “high.”

Methadone’s intended purpose works as a maintenance drug in much the same way as insulin is used to treat diabetes. Anyone experiencing a “high” effect from methadone is likely receiving too high a daily dosage amount. At this level, the therapeutic effects of the drug are lost.

  1. Methadone is named after Adolf Hitler.

While originally developed in Germany in the 1930s, methadone goes by the brand name Dolphine in the United States. A mistaken assumption regarding the “dolph” portion of the name as a shortened version of “Adolf” has perpetuated this myth.

  1. Methadone is a synthetic form of heroin.

With heroin, users eventually end up losing control over the effects of the drug on their lives. Heroin addiction often leads to joblessness, broken relationships as well as financial and legal problems. Methadone’s effects work to stabilize mental processes and thereby enable a person to regain control of his or her life.

  1. Methadone makes the body sick.

According to the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, patients can experience flu-like symptoms at the start of methadone maintenance treatment. Once the optimal dosage level is reached, these symptoms go away.

  1. Since Methadone can also be used as an analgesic, people on methadone maintenance treatment don’t feel physical pain.

While methadone can be used as a treatment for chronic pain, the dosage used to treat addiction symptoms runs considerably lower than doses used to treat chronic pain symptoms.

  1. People who take methadone become completely dependent on the drug’s effects.

Over the course of methadone maintenance treatment, the brain does become dependent on the drug. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, when it comes time to discontinue treatment, patients go through a tapering phase until they’re completely off the drug.

  1. Methadone only works to reinforce a person’s reliance on drugs.

As a treatment therapy, methadone maintenance is only administered for as long as person has trouble managing symptoms of withdrawal and drug cravings. The addictive tendency to keep using a drug does not apply in the case of methadone maintenance treatment.

  1. Methadone doesn’t work.

When combined with behavioral treatment interventions, methadone treatment enables a person to fully engage in the treatment process. In doing so, patients are better equipped to apply the principles learned in treatment within their everyday lives.

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  1. Methadone drives recovering opiate addicts to turn to alcohol.

The tendency to trade one form of addiction for another during methadone maintenance treatment has more to do with a person’s behavioral treatment needs than any physical cravings for alcohol itself.

  1. Methadone causes a decline in physical health.

Overall, methadone’s effects work to improve a person’s physical health status by enhancing his or her ability to make sound quality of life choices and decisions.

  1. Methadone treatment can be used to treat other forms of drug addiction.

Methadone’s mechanism of action is specifically designed to treat the aftereffects of chronic or long-term opiate abuse.

  1. Methadone causes memory problems.

Signs of memory problems indicate a person’s dosage level is too high. Lowering the daily dosage level amount resolves this issue.

  1. Methadone impairs the body’s immune system functions.

Methadone has no effect on immune system function, which is atypical for an opiate class drug. In the majority of cases, once a person starts methadone maintenance treatment, eating habits and self-care practices in general show marked improvement.

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