Addiction to opiate drugs can be devastating and often ruins lives; Not just the lives of those addicted but the people who surround them as well. According to the CDC in 2002, “at least 980,000 people in the US are currently addicted to heroin and other opiates”. When an addict is finally ready to get help, (which will only happen when he/she is ready to help themselves) there are many options. One of these widely used options is Methadone Treatment.
Methadone is a synthetic opiate that blocks the pathways in the brain, so the user will not feel the effects of heroin, as well as other opiates like prescription drugs, including OxyContin and Vicodin. It can reduce, and even prevent the unpleasant symptoms that stem from withdrawal. SAMHSA reports that methadone has been a proven and effective way to treat opiate addiction since the 1960’s.
After an addict seeks treatment and receives an evaluation (usually including a urine sample), Methadone may be found to be the best form of treatment for the patient. At this point the medical professional will make the decision of a dosage to start off on based on the patients’ needs. Usually the doctor will start the addict off on a lower dose to be safe and then follow up frequently to adjust as needed. When the addict has gotten to the correct dosage of Methadone, which will prevent all withdrawal symptoms, the goal is maintenance.
Maintenance is what the methadone is doing for the addict to keep him/her off of street drugs. It is usually prescribed in a liquid form that is to be taken once daily. The patient is generally supervised, while taking the medication by the pharmacist who dispenses it. This way there is no question on how much methadone you are taking each day.
The majority of people will remain on methadone for a long time or sometimes even long-term or life. There are some however, that will taper off and get off of all drugs completely. This takes a huge amount of dedication by the addict because it usually takes months or years before someone will decide to go detoxification. There have been studies done that show that long-term administration of the drug is medically safe.
The success rate for methadone treatment can increase when coupled with things like a good support system, and regular counseling. It is important to remember that each patient is different and their treatment will vary depending on their own individual factors, and risks. The length of treatment is something that can only be evaluated by a trained medical professional.