Will Methadone Treatment Work?

The decision to enter drug treatment often entails a host of questions, doubts and concerns. Making the decision to get help is hard enough without wondering whether a particular treatment approach will actually work. Opiate addictions, in particular, can be especially hard to manage regardless of the type of treatment used.

Methadone treatment has a long-standing history in treating opiate addictions compared to other types of approaches. More importantly, methadone treatment addresses the most troublesome aspects of the opiate recovery process: drug cravings and withdrawal effects. While methadone treatment may not work for everyone, it does provide a viable treatment option for people entering the recovery process.

Methadone Treatment Uses

So, how does a daily dose of methadone help someone stop using? Methadone’s effectiveness as an opiate addiction treatment lies in its opiate-like effects. Methadone is actually an opiate medication itself, though its effects work differently than other addictive-type opiate drugs. As a daily treatment, methadone mimics the effects of opiates without creating the feelings of euphoria and calm produced by drugs that are more addictive. In this way, recovering addicts don’t experience the persistent drug cravings while in treatment.

opiate addiction

Although it does not work for everyone it is a viable option for treating opiate addiction.

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, methadone’s chemical make-up makes it an effective treatment option for both detox purposes and for helping a person maintain abstinence for the long term. When first starting out in methadone treatment, a person may go through multiple dosage adjustments before the right daily dosage amount is found.

The right methadone treatment dosage amount will ward off drug cravings while relieving withdrawal effects. Too high a dose will produce unwanted “high” effects while too low a dosage will leave a person at the mercy of withdrawal effects. On average, the right dosage amount ranges somewhere between 30 milligram and 100 milligrams.

Relapse Prevention

The potential for relapse poses the most dangerous risk for someone entering drug addiction treatment. Once a person stops using opiates, the brain and body become more sensitive to the effects of the drug. A single relapse episode places recovering addicts at considerable risk of respiratory failure, and even death.

The combined effects of drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms account for why it’s so hard to even make it through the detox period, let alone remain drug-free. By eliminating drug cravings and withdrawal effects, methadone treatment can greatly reduce the likelihood of relapsing. Daily methadone treatments also prevent a person from getting “high” should a relapse episode occur.


As with any type of treatment approach, methadone treatment works well for some people, but not everyone. Certain factors increase the likelihood a person will benefit from methadone treatment, some of which include –

  • Older age
  • Mild to moderate addiction problem
  • Later aged onset of addiction problem
  • Not having co-occurring addictions
  • Highly motivated to get well

People suffering from opiate addictions, more oftentimes than not, develop other psychological problems, such as anxiety disorders, depression and bipolar disorder. Considering the process involved with methadone treatment and the likelihood of developing co-occurring conditions, the importance of working with experienced drug treatment professionals plays a pivotal role in methadone’s effectiveness as a treatment approach.

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