What if I Relapse While in Methadone Treatment?

Heroin and prescription pain pill addictions – also known as opiate addictions- have left more than a few people in need of professional treatment help. In the case of chronic, long-term users, the effects of opiates leave the brain in a debilitated state. Methadone treatment offers addicts a much needed reprieve from the aftereffects of long-term opiate use.

While methadone exists as one of the more effective opiate addiction treatments, a person can still relapse while in methadone treatment. When this happens, one or more factors may contribute to his or her inability to maintain abstinence.

Methadone treatment programs employ a range of medical and behavioral treatment interventions that work to address the many challenges addicts face in recovery. While a relapse episode can be discouraging, it’s especially important to maintain close contact with your treating physician as any number of adjustments can be made to get you back on the right track.

Methadone’s Therapeutic Effects

Methadone’s treatment effectiveness derives from its opiate-based ingredients. As a synthetic opiate drug, methadone’s effects offers relief from the bouts of withdrawal and drug cravings so often experienced in recovery. Unfortunately, these same ingredients can cause unexpected problems when a person’s dosage level isn’t calibrated correctly.

Too high a dosage level will leave a person in a sedated state and may even produce a mild “high” effect, much like other addictive opiates do. Too low dosage level a person at risk of experiencing overwhelming withdrawal and/or cravings effects.

Dosage Considerations

methadone treatment

Methadone dosage varies from person to person

By the time a person enters methadone treatment, the brain has developed a high tolerance for opiate drugs in general. In order for methadone treatment to be effective, doctors must first determine how high a person’s tolerance level is, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. This information is then used to calibrate what dose of methadone will best meet a person’s treatment needs.

It’s not uncommon for doctors to have to recalibrate dosage amounts several times before finding the optimal dosage level. During this period, the risk for relapse can run high, especially when dosage levels are set too low.

Behavioral Treatment Interventions


Methadone treatment programs typically offer a range of behavioral treatment interventions as a condition for receiving ongoing methadone medication treatment. These methadone treatment interventions are designed to build upon the drug’s therapeutic benefits by helping a person develop the types of coping skills needed to maintain abstinence on an ongoing basis.

As psychotherapy and drug counseling make up a large part of the behavioral treatment component, these sessions offer ideal settings for working through withdrawal and cravings effects when they arise.

What to Do Next

Methadone treatment programs rely on the information they receive from each client to ensure a person’s treatment needs are being addressed. For this reason, it’s especially important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your treating physician.

If and when a relapse episode occurs, any and all details you can provide regarding when and how withdrawal and cravings effect develop can go a long way towards helping your doctor coordinate your treatment needs and recalibrate your dosage levels.

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