Are the Benefits of Methadone Maintenance Treatment Worth the Risks?

With over 50 years of research and application data to draw from, methadone maintenance treatment has a proven track record as an opiate addiction treatment. That being do, one treatment, no matter how effective, will meet everyone’s recovery needs.

In spite of its success as an addiction treatment, methadone maintenance treatment does come with certain risks that warrant consideration. Ultimately, your individual treatment needs and life circumstances become the deciding factor when weighing methadone maintenance treatment risks and benefits.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Methadone maintenance treatment combines the therapeutic benefits of methadone with ongoing behavioral treatment interventions. According to the Alabama Department of Mental Health, this comprehensive approach works to address both the physical and psychological components of opiate addiction.

As a treatment medication, methadone acts as a replacement therapy in terms of its ability to mimic the effects of addictive opiates without inciting compulsive drug use or producing a “high” effect. As methadone treats the physical aftereffects of addiction, behavioral treatment interventions help a person undo the destructive thinking and behavioral patterns that addiction breeds.


free of cravings

Methadone helps to reduce drug cravings.

Methadone removes the two biggest obstacles a person faces in recovery: drug cravings and withdrawal effects. Whether your drug of choice is heroin or prescription pain pills, methadone interacts with the same brain cell sites as addictive opiates, supporting damaged cell structures and restoring a normal chemical balance in the brain.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, other benefits of methadone maintenance treatment include:

  • Eliminates the need for compulsive drug seeking and drug using
  • Restores feelings of normalcy and emotional well-being
  • Increases your motivation to maintain abstinence
  • Improved physical health


Risks associated with methadone maintenance treatment have to do with methadone’s classification as a synthetic opiate. As with all opiate drugs, methadone carries a risk of abuse though this risk is considerably lower than that of addictive opiates.

Methadone’s opiate-based properties can also make it difficult to discontinue methadone maintenance treatment once a person feels ready. This drug also interacts with certain other types of medications, which can take away from its ability to quench withdrawal and cravings effects.

Determining Factors

Certain determining factors can help you decide whether the benefits of methadone maintenance treatment outweigh the risks. More often than not, people best suited for methadone maintenance treatment have come off a long history of chronic opiate abuse and had little no success with other forms of drug treatment.

If you have an extensive opiate abuse history, the benefits afforded by methadone maintenance treatment may well outweigh the risks. On the other hand, if you have a solid support system in place and remain engaged in behavioral treatment on an ongoing basis, the risks may outweigh the benefits.


As most, if not all the risks that come with methadone maintenance treatment have to do with the drug’s unintended effects, much of this risk can be reduced by keeping the lines of communication open between you and your treating clinicians. In effect, methadone’s therapeutic effectiveness depends on the dosage amount given, so keeping your doctor informed of any discomfort or problems you may have can go a long way towards reducing the drug’s overall risk profile.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding methadone maintenance treatment or methadone treatment programs in your area, please feel free to call our toll-free line at 866-312-5827Who Answers? for more information.

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