Methadone Maintenance Treatment Isn’t as Bad as You Think

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is a wide-ranging treatment program that includes the long-term prescribing of methadone as a substitute to the opioid or opiate on which the client was dependent. In addition, MMT involves case management, counselling, and other medical and psychological services.

There are many misconceptions that surround MMT. Some people believe truly believe that once a person is on methadone, they stay on it, and others are convinced it does no good. Those can’t both be true and, in fact, neither of them are.

Methadone isn’t a big bad wolf that hurts your health. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) writes, “Maintenance treatments save lives—they help to stabilize individuals, allowing treatment of their medical, psychological, and other problems so they can contribute effectively as members of families and of society.” Don’t be afraid to reach out to save your own life or the life of someone you love; call 866-312-5827Who Answers? and let help you begin the process.

What follows are some facts about methadone maintenance treatment and its benefits.

MMT Is Effective for Opioid Addiction


MMT is cost effective.

A methadone research guide produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts MMT is successful treatment for heroin and prescription narcotic addiction, specifically when measured by:

  • Reduction in the use of illicit drugs
  • Reduction in criminal activity
  • Reduction in needle sharing
  • Reduction in HIV infection rates and transmission
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Reduction in commercial sex work
  • Reduction in the number of reports of multiple sex partners
  • Improvements in social health and productivity
  • Improvements in health conditions
  • Retention in addiction treatment
  • Reduction in suicide
  • Reduction in lethal overdose

It literally facilitates every item on the list.

MMT Reduces Illicit Opioid Use

In a 1982 Drug Abuse Reporting Program (DARP) study reported in the NIDA research guide, 44 percent of the 895 patients who entered methadone maintenance treatment reported no daily use of illicit narcotics in the first posttreatment year. This was a 56 percent decrease from 100 percent daily use the patients showed in the 2 months before admission to the program. These findings are also backed by a number of other, more recent studies.

Long-Term Use of Methadone Is Medically Safe, and It Is Well Tolerated by Patients

The NIDA research guide highlights studies that report “Methadone prescribed in high doses for a long period of time has no toxic effects and only minimal side effects for adult patients maintained in treatment for up to 14 years and for adolescent patients treated for up to 5 years.” Long-term MMT doses of 80 to 120 mg per day are not shown to be toxic or dangerous to the internal workings of the body, even with over a decade of daily use.

Can Methadone Be Abused?

This question opens up a big area of concern regarding MMT. The reality is that methadone can be diverted from its purpose and planned recipients and either abused or used by people who want treatment but don’t want to be observed. Although the degree to which this diversion occurs is unknown, research used in the NIDA guide demonstrates the benefits of MMT outweigh the risks associated with that diversion.

The research illustrates “[S]ome diverted methadone can result in fatal overdoses; however, the rate of overdose among patients enrolled in methadone maintenance is low.” In a study of approximately 10,000 people receiving methadone the mortality rate was only 7.1 deaths. In this same study, 51 percent of methadone-related deaths befell people who were not registered in methadone maintenance. So, the chances of overdosing are low, and of those who do, half are not receiving genuine MMT but are instead obtaining the medication and using it without supervision.

Program Characteristics Associated with Successful MMT

As with all drug treatment, finding the right type of treatment and center often determines the patient’s success. When you are ready to seek treatment, call 866-312-5827Who Answers? 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can help you get started.

Based on a number of studies, the NIDA verified several program characteristics associated with improved outcomes in patients receiving MMT. Those characteristics are:

  • Establishment of evidence-based dosing policies and dose ranges
  • Availability of a variety of psychosocial services for those who require them
  • Attention to staff training and quality
  • When possible, integration of medical, counseling, and administrative services

Keep these traits in mind when searching for a treatment location and variety that meets your needs, and don’t be afraid of MMT. It is a safe, effective way to wean yourself from opioid and opiate addiction.

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed below, each of which is a paid advertiser:

ARK Behavioral Health

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