A study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that quitting a substance cold turkey is not always the most effective route to achieving long-lasting sobriety. For many people, it actually increases their odds of relapsing.

Addiction is more than a neurological dependence that’s developed in your brain chemistry; it’s a habit that’s been formed, a routine, a favorite recreational activity, a coping mechanism and more. Just about every area of our lives is influenced or dominated by addiction, which means recovery has to be about more than just stopping the physical use of a substance.

For those struggling with an opioid disorder, recovery is typically accompanied by various withdrawal symptoms that must be managed for the health, safety and comfort of the person. Methadone is one of the most effective ways at helping to manage these symptoms.

Today we’re going to help you understand the purpose and importance of methadone for opioid use disorder by taking a closer look at what methadone is, how it works, and why it’s used.

What is methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication used to treat severe pain and opioid addiction.  

It can be administered as a tablet, oral solution or powder (to be dissolved in a drink), and is typically administered in a clinical setting due to the potential of patients abusing it, as well as the potential side effects.

When used specifically to treat an opioid use disorder or fentanyl abuse, methadone would be prescribed to an individual by a licensed medical professional, after an initial consultation. If you’re open to medication-assisted treatment, methadone is an option; if not (which is okay too), your medical provider will discuss alternative treatment options with you.

How does methadone work?

The purpose of methadone is to help people reduce or quit their use of opioids by chemically altering how the brain and nervous system respond to the drug. 

When someone uses opioids, certain receptors in the brain are activated that result in a rush of pain relief and feelings of euphoria. Methadone binds to those same receptors and reduces the effects, therefore easing both the cravings for the drug and withdrawal symptoms from it.

Because methadone stays in the body for a longer period than most other synthetic opioid medications, it can help people avoid the highs and “crashes” commonly associated with medication-assisted treatment.

Using methadone for opioid use disorder is most effective when integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that will help address the individual’s needs as a whole, not just what they need for the addiction itself. 

How long does methadone treatment last?

How long methadone treatment lasts depends entirely on the individual, their specific needs and the kind of progress they’re making in recovery.

Methadone is generally considered to be a longer-term treatment option, as fully addressing the complexities of substance abuse is rarely resolved within a couple of weeks or months, but it does primarily depend on the person.

Some people continue to take methadone longer than what is considered average because that’s what they need in their recovery journey. Others might use methadone for an extended amount of time but gradually taper themselves off the medication once they’ve developed stable progress. It all depends on what will best support and assist you in achieving sobriety.

Knowing where to begin with researching medication and figuring out if it’s the right step for you can be confusing and overwhelming — let us help you figure it out.

Seek treatment today

Here at October Road, we offer a variety of behavioral health and substance use treatment programs for adults seeking to regain their health and rebuild their best lives.

We recognize that medication is not a cure in and of itself, but can be highly beneficial in assisting individuals to recover from an opioid use disorder, which is why we offer methadone treatment as part of our opioid treatment services.

If you think you or someone you love has become dependent on opioids, reach out to us. Each one of our staff members is passionate about helping you not only achieve recovery in the short term but instill positive, long-lasting change in your life.

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