The Methadone Debate

Methadone is a substance that can be very beneficial to those suffering with an opiate drug addiction, yet many people are opposed to the idea of it. Some people call it a helpful medication, others think of it simply as just another dangerous, addictive drug.

Heroin Addiction

People who are addicted to heroin often cannot function in society. The drug is so addicting that users want nothing more than to get high all the time. If an individual is even considering getting clean from heroin, the fear of a complicated withdrawal is a major factor weighing on their mind. Recovery is difficult, and many heroin addicts who cannot get beyond the cravings end up going back to their drug.

Methadone Treatment

Methadone was first used in the 1970s to treat opiate addiction. It is a narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine and it reduces the symptoms of heroin withdrawal. In essence, this kind of treatment replaces heroin in the user’s body with methadone. Methadone does not cause the high that heroin and other opiates produce, so in an ideal situation, it is not abused the way other drugs are.

Methadone is used in many heroin addiction cases to help the person break free from drug addiction. When used correctly, a recovering heroin addict can use methadone to gradually step down from their opiate addiction. They can slowly decrease the amount of methadone they use, and eventually wean off it as they get back on their feet.

A New Addiction

Some people view methadone as a crutch or a replacement addiction. They can’t understand why it is acceptable for someone to continue to be dependent on methadone. Methadone is addictive and can be abused if not used correctly, and many people are slaves to this kind of dependence. There are methadone addicts, just as there are heroin or crack or meth addicts. In fact, even though methadone was designed to not be abused, it is often abused by people looking for a cheap alternative to heroin. Methadone can also be harmful because people can overdose on it just as with other drugs.

Benefits of Methadone Treatment

For many people, however, methadone is a life saver. It allows them to work and to be with their family, without needing to get high all the time. Methadone allows them to function in society and to live an almost normal life. As with any treatment, the person must be committed to getting sober. The person must also seek counseling for their opiate addiction. With methadone therapy blocking the heroin cravings, and counseling and support groups encouraging the person to live a sober life, many people have successfully overcome one of the most difficult addictions.


Office of National Drug Control Policy

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