Why Bother with Therapy & Support Groups When Methadone Treatment Works Just Fine by Itself?
The use of methadone as an opiate addiction treatment has all but revolutionized the addictions field in terms of how treatment providers view and treat addiction. Methadone no doubt offers considerable relief for people recovering from chronic and long-term addiction problems.
While methadone treatment does offer a range of therapeutic benefits, it doesn’t address the psychological damage done by long-term opiate use. Someone taking methadone may well feel more like his or her normal self again; however, addiction’s aftereffects take root within the mind as well as the body. For these reasons, it’s essential for people recovering from chronic opiate addiction to take advantage of the behavioral treatment supports afforded through methadone treatment.
Methadone’s Treatment Purpose
Long-term opiate abuse causes extensive damage within the brain’s chemical system, all but incapacitating neurotransmitter-producing cells throughout the brain. Methadone’s effects work to stabilize brain chemical imbalances and support damaged cell functions.
As a treatment drug, methadone’s ability to relieve the aftereffects of chronic addiction acts as a type of medication therapy similar to how insulin is used to support glucose metabolism processes for people with diabetes, according to Penn State University. In effect, a person can remain on methadone for as long as withdrawal and drug cravings effects continue to impede his or her recovery progress, so methadone works quite well as a long-term treatment approach.
The Addiction Mindset
In spite of methadone’s therapeutic benefits, the drug does nothing to correct for the destructive belief systems that develop during the course of drug use. Over time, opiate effects in the brain warp a person’s thinking and emotions, which inevitably translates into his or her day-to-day behaviors. This mindset breeds a lifestyle that’s geared towards supporting drug-seeking and drug-using behaviors.
The addiction mindset will persist on into the recovery process and ultimately pose an ongoing threat to any hopes of maintaining abstinence from drug use. In the absence of needed treatment, a person can easily relapse back into the addiction lifestyle even while taking methadone.
The Need for Behavioral Treatment
Methadone treatment programs use behavioral treatment interventions as a means for undoing the psychological aftereffects of addiction, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. By combining methadone with behavioral-based interventions, such as psychotherapy and support group work, methadone treatment works to support the therapeutic effects of the drug by helping a person develop a drug-free mindset along the way. Considering the dual nature of addiction, combining medication with behavioral treatment interventions provides those in recovery with the best chance of maintaining continued abstinence.
More often than not, addiction recovery entails a longer process than most people expect. The brain’s chemical network relies on a stable balance of neurotransmitter chemicals to support ongoing physical and psychological well-being. The effects of chronic opiate addiction not only disrupt this delicate balance, but also reconfigure the brain’s chemical pathways as well as the brain’s overall structure.
While methadone’s effects may seem sufficient enough, taking part in therapy and support group work is essential to maintaining continued abstinence as daily temptations to use and destructive thinking patterns can quickly trigger a relapse episode when you least expect it.
If you or someone you know is considering methadone treatment and have questions about how behavior-based treatments work, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-530-0431 for more information.