Mythbusting Methadone Maintenance: Helping Others Understand Your Treatment Program

Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding methadone maintenance and its validity as a treatment method. Friends, family members, coworkers, or other individuals you know may believe some of these myths and say skeptical and even hurtful things to you about the program. According to Harvard Medical School, methadone maintenance is still “politically controversial,” but it also “has better scientific support than any other treatment for any kind of drug or alcohol addiction.”

Because many people are misinformed about methadone maintenance, it is important that you are able to help others understand the truth about your treatment program and why it is beneficial to so many people.

Myth #1: Methadone Maintenance is a Substitute for Heroin or Other Opioid Drug Abuse

Mythbusting Methadone Maintenance

Explain to your loved ones that methadone maintenance programs provide much more than just medication.

As the National Institute on Drug Abuse states, “Methadone and buprenorphine are not heroin/opioid substitutes” when used in maintenance treatment. These drugs are taken in regulated doses and have slow onsets; this keeps them from creating the kind of euphoric rush that heroin and other opioids cause when abused in high doses. Methadone, when prescribed and administered medically, does not create the same effects a person would feel as the result of abusing an opioid drug, and therefore, is not merely a substitute or a replacement for drug abuse.

Myth #2: Methadone Maintenance Centers Only Dole Out Medication

Maintenance centers are not only some of the most highly regulated medical programs in the country, they also provide well-rounded treatment to patients that often includes:

  • Individualized therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Drug testing
  • Drug education
  • HIV testing and prevention
  • Medical help
  • Referrals to other programs that can help with education, job seeking, housing, etc.

Myth #3: Methadone is Dangerous When Used Over a Long Period of Time

Methadone maintenance is built for long-term treatment, and most individuals are on the drug for a year or longer, some of them staying on it indefinitely. According to the NIDA, “Long-term methadone maintenance treatment at doses of 80 to 120 mg per day is not toxic or dangerous to any organ system after continuous treatment for 10 to 14 years.” This is the optimal dosage amount, and its use has been proven to be very safe since doctors first began using it to treat addiction in the 1960s.

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