Importance of Counseling in Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs
Opiate drugs affect the body and mind like no other type of drug, gradually deteriorating essential brain chemical processes over time. Once a person becomes addicted to opiates, the resulting damages make it all but impossible to stop using without some form of medication intervention. Methadone maintenance treatment works as a type of medication therapy specifically designed to wean recovering addicts off of opiates.
While medication therapy remains essential in the treatment of opiate addiction, methadone maintenance treatment also incorporates counseling treatment as an essential adjunct to medication therapy. Without the counseling component, methadone maintenance treatment leaves recovering addicts at high risk of relapse and continued drug use.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment
While methadone maintenance treatment programs do use methadone as a focal point throughout the treatment process, counseling is no less important for a successful recovery from opiate addiction. Methadone medication therapy works especially well for people who’ve exhausted all other drug treatment options in terms of eliminating ongoing drug cravings. By reducing or eliminating these cravings, recovering addicts are better equipped to tackle the underlying issues that drove them to drug addiction. In effect, counseling services treat the psychological aspect where the root of addiction lies.
As any form of effective drug treatment rests on a person’s motivation to get well, counseling treatment works to reinforce a person’s initial motivations to live a drug-free life. The counseling segment of methadone maintenance treatment includes an educational aspect where recovering addicts can learn how opiate drugs affect the mind and weaken a person’s sense of self. This type of knowledge can give a person the incentive needed to abstain from drug use and work through the recovery process.
In essence, addiction stems from both a physical and mental dependency on drugs. Counseling services address the psychological aspect of addiction by breaking a person’s mental dependency on opiate drug effects.
Behavioral therapies used in methadone maintenance treatment focus instilling healthy, productive coping behaviors for dealing with life’s daily challenges. The behavioral therapies most used within addiction treatment include cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy works on strengthening a person’s sense of self while replacing unhealthy coping skills with healthy ones. Contingency management therapy uses external motivators, such as free merchandise and community services to encourage recovering addicts to remain abstinent. Both forms of behavioral therapy have the overall goal of helping a recovering addict restore his or her role as a productive member within society.
As essential components within the methadone maintenance treatment process, both group therapy and support group meetings provide the guidance and support needed to prevent relapse and maintain progress through the recovery process. According to Harvard Health Publications, group therapy treatment is especially effective in helping recovering addicts gain emotional support while forming healthy, lasting relationships.
Support group meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous provide an ongoing source of guidance and support as members continue in the recovery process. These programs use a 12-step approach designed to help participants improve their relationships with self and others. As a long-term treatment option, regular attendance at 12-step meetings becomes a primary motivator that helps keep recovering addicts from relapsing.