Is Methadone Maintenance Treatment Right for My Spouse?

Watching a spouse battle an opiate addiction can be a heart-breaking ordeal. Multiple failed attempts to stop using can discourage even the most determined of people.

For many long-time opiate users, methadone maintenance treatment has succeeded where other treatment approaches have failed. As a medication treatment, methadone provides the type of support that makes it possible to overcome ongoing drug cravings and withdrawal effects.

While methadone maintenance treatment does offer a ray of hope for many opiate addicts, certain factors may prevent a person from gaining the full benefits of the drug. Whether or not methadone maintenance treatment is right for your spouse ultimately depends ultimately depends on his or her individual treatment needs.

Methadone’s Effects

Chronic opiate addiction essentially changes the structure of the brain and leaves brain chemical processes in a state imbalance. Even after a person completes detox, brain processes still function at a diminished capacity. Under these conditions, recovering addicts remain at a high risk of resuming old drug-using behaviors.

The methadone maintenance treatment approach uses methadone, a synthetic opiate drug, in much the same way as insulin is used to treat diabetes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. With methadone being an opiate-type drug, it can be used to stabilize brain chemical imbalances without inciting the type of “high” effects brought on by addictive opiate drugs.

Relapse Prevention Support

methadone maintenance

Your spouse – and your relationship – could benefit from methadone treatment.

The potential for relapse stays with many a recovering opiate addict regardless of how long they’ve been in recovery. The damaging effects of opiates on the brain often leave a person with persistent drug cravings and withdrawal effects long after he or she stops using. In this state, it becomes all the more difficult to function effectively on a day-to-day basis.

The effectiveness of the methadone maintenance treatment approach lies in the drug’s ability to reduce or even eliminate persistent cravings and withdrawal effects. By doing so, recovering addicts feel more like themselves in terms of being able to think clearly and better manage their emotions.

Sexual Dysfunction Issues

While methadone maintenance treatment can work wonders in helping a person maintain abstinence, as an opiate drug, it does carry some risk of side effects in the form of sexual dysfunction. While on methadone, your spouse may experience a considerable decrease in sex drive for as long as he or she remains in treatment. For males in particular, methadone side effects can cause erectile dysfunction problems to develop.

Sexual dysfunction issues can quickly become a source of conflict and stress in a marriage. While it helps to be prepared for this problem, it’s not uncommon for people receiving methadone maintenance treatment to drop out of treatment because of this unwelcome side effect.


Methadone maintenance treatment may be less effective in cases where certain factors affect the treatment outcome. Factors that can limit or reduce methadone’s treatment effectiveness include –

  • Being of a young age (teenage to late 20s)
  • Addiction problems involving two or more different types of drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol
  • Having a co-occurring psychological disorder, such as depression or anxiety
  • Little to no motivation to get well

When all is said and done, a person’s motivation to get well becomes the determining factor for a successful recovery regardless of whether or not he or she struggles with other life issues.

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ARK Behavioral Health

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.