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The Pros and Cons to Methadone Treatment for Heroin Addiction

If you’re in recovery from heroin addiction, your treatment might include regular controlled doses of methadone. In fact, there are a variety of methadone clinics throughout the country that serve as a distributor for those who are using methadone as part of their treatment plan.

Research has shown that the best combination of treatment includes methadone, which is itself an opioid, to manage the withdrawal symptoms, as well as therapy to address the behavioral and psychological issues that contribute to the addiction in the first place.

Certainly, the use of methadone has had many successes in facilitating sobriety for recovery\ing addicts of opiates. For instance, Bechara Choucair, MD, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, commented that “methadone maintenance treatment is an effective treatment for heroin and prescription narcotic addiction —slashing injection rates, lethal overdose, and crime rates, as well as reducing HIV transmission, time spent unemployed, and time spent incarcerated.”

At the same time, there are others in the field of addiction treatment who question the use of an opioid to medically treat an opiate addiction. Although the point is to help an addict slowly wean off the drug in order to finally achieve sober living, that addict is still getting high. At the same time, there are many recovering heroin addicts who are not actually weaning off methadone. Instead, they are staying at their recommended dose without slowly decreasing over time.

Despite this, the controlled use of methadone has kept many people off the streets, away from committing crime, and hurting themselves with incessant injections into their body. The regular use of methadone in treatment has actually helped some relieve their anxiety. Along these lines, some have turned to and later became addicted to heroin because of an attempt to relieve their physical pain.

Opioids are the main activating drug found in painkillers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, diphenoxylate, morphine, codeine, and methadone. This active ingredient is also the same that is found in heroin, which is why so many who have developed an addiction to pain medication have turned to heroin as a cheaper form of the substance they are addicted to.

Furthermore, for anyone who was taking heroin or pain medications as a means to help relieve their physical and/or emotional pain, the use of methadone in their treatment could be providing them with additional benefits.

Methadone as a treatment for heroin addiction has both benefits and costs. As just mentioned, it can provide some with the relief they need to function in their lives. At the same time, critics of the use of methadone say that this form of treatment is only extending an addiction versus facilitating the end of it.

Certainly, as the treatment for drug addiction continues to evolve, perhaps more options will become available for those who are addicted to opiates, options that have no consequences, that are safe, and that facilitate sobriety.


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