Tag: opioid replacement therapy

Are You Sober if You Take Methadone?

What is Methadone?

what is methadone
Chemical structure of methadone via Wikimedia Commons

Methadone is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous drugs available. It’s often described as a drug that, once you start taking it, you’re addicted to for life. It’s described as a devil drug and one that unwittingly hooks opioid users trying to change their lives for the better.

While there are many examples to back this generalization up, it’s worth noting that these media portrayals don’t answer the question “what is methadone and what’s it used for?” And that, my friends, is the question.

There are few drugs as misunderstood as methadone. Some tote it as an effective form of medication assisted therapy. Some call it the ultimate pain management drug. The media’s labeled it as public enemy number one. The only thing these portrayals have in common is that they all contain the word methadone.

So, what is methadone used for? Well, it’s used for all of the above and more. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly this drug is and, more importantly, what it isn’t.

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What is Methadone Used For?

Well, what is methadone used for? More often than not, it’s used as a form of medication assisted therapy (also known as opioid replacement therapy or, more colloquially, methadone maintenance).

To put it another way, methadone is used to help men and women overcome opioid addiction. Here’s where things get controversial. Many believe that taking methadone is nothing more than switching one addiction for another.

This belief is, in part, true. Methadone maintenance is a long-term affair. When an individual goes on methadone it isn’t for a few weeks. They’re usually on it for years. Some remain on the drug for the rest of their lives.

Opponents of methadone argue that this isn’t sober, isn’t clean, but just another form of addicted. They argue that the addict’s brain is still flooded with opioid molecules and that they’re still “under the influence.”

These are all valid points. Still, there are some benefits to medication assisted therapy. First and foremost, methadone improves quality of life for many people. Are they still addicted? Certainly. Are they using street drugs and stealing to get their next fix? Nope.

Following this line of thinking, being in a methadone program shows the individual wants to change their life. Are they “willing to go to any length?” Perhaps not. There’s something to be said for any sort of positive change though.

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Methadone for Chronic Pain

Another answer to the question “what is methadone used for” is that it’s used to treat chronic pain. That’s right folks, methadone for chronic pain is a popular choice among doctors.

what is methadone used for

The reason for this is two-fold. First, methadone has a longer half-life than any other opioid. That means that methadone stays active in the body for longer than any other narcotic painkiller. Although morphine has long been the gold standard for pain treatment, methadone for chronic pain offers longer relief.

Second, methadone is used to treat pain because it offers a relatively “euphoria free” type of pain relief. Make no mistake, methadone is an opioid and, as such, it will get users high. The euphoria wears off after the first few times someone takes the drug though.

Rather than producing a high, methadone will begin to bind to opioid receptors and act only as an analgesic. Now everyone’s body is different and it may still produce euphoria in some. For the most part, though, it’s large on painkilling effects and short on getting users high.

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The Final Verdict

So, what’s the final consensus? Is methadone good or bad? Is it a safe and effective way for addicts to get clean? Or is it a sinister drug that unintentionally hooks users?

The answer is up to you. For some, methadone is a lifesaver. For others, it’s just one more hurdle on the road to freedom. What do you think? Let us know on social media!

What is ORT?: The New Fake Sobriety

Written By: Fiona Stockard

What is Methadone Maintenance?

methadone maintenance

Recovery from active addiction is hard. If you’re sober today, you deserve a high-five and pat on the back. Really though, sobriety is hard. In fact, recovery from active addiction is so hard that sometimes abstinence based recovery takes a backseat to other methods. I’m talking about methadone maintenance and the increasingly popular Suboxone maintenance.

Methadone maintenance is a form of addiction treatment often referred to as ORT, or Opioid Replacement Therapy. When someone receives methadone maintenance, they take regular doses of the synthetic opioid methadone.

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What is Methadone?

methadone program

Methadone is one of the longest acting opioids. This makes it hard to abuse. Rather than getting people high, methadone saturates the brain’s opioid receptors slowly, over an extended period of time. This doesn’t mean that methadone is abuse-proof.

As a tried and true junkie myself, I can vouch that methadone will get you loaded, but only at first. After the first few times taking it, methadone doesn’t you high. Instead, it stops withdrawal symptoms. This is where ORT becomes incredibly beneficial.

What is Suboxone Maintenance?

Suboxone maintenance is a new type of Opioid Replacement Therapy. This is when the drug buprenorphine is used instead of methadone.

The idea behind methadone and Suboxone maintenance is the same. Some addicts simply don’t respond to abstinence-based treatment. For those unlucky few, ORT offers a way to escape the destructive cycle of active addiction.

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What is Suboxone?

suboxone maintenance

Suboxone is a brand name version of the drug buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is an interesting chemical. It’s an opioid agonist and an opioid antagonist. This means that it simultaneously activates and deactivates opioid receptors in the brain.

Much like methadone, rather than getting you high, buprenorphine stops opioid withdrawal from occurring. This makes it a pretty valuable ORT drug.

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What are the Pro’s and Con’s of ORT?

For those addicts who’ve tried repeatedly to get sober, but can’t, ORT is a lifesaver. It offers a way to avoid the illegal lifestyle associated with active addiction. It stops withdrawal symptoms. It allows chronic-relapsers a chance at normality and stability.

That being said, Suboxone and methadone maintenance are pretty controversial. Opponents of ORT argue they enable addicts. They argue that we shouldn’t be handing drugs to addicts. They argue that it’s not real sobriety.

Well, they’re right…sort of. It’s not real sobriety. However, for those who just can’t seem to succeed at traditional addiction treatment, ORT is helpful. It offers an “easier, softer way.” It offers a way for them to avoid the more destructive aspects of active addiction. Plus, if someone going through ORT decides they’d like traditional treatment, clinics often help them find it.

ORT is legal in forty-five states. That’s a lot, but it’s worth noting that it isn’t legal everywhere. While going through ORT, addicts have to go to a clinic to get medication. They’re given regular drug tests and, if they fail, they’re kicked out of the program. They’re also offered support services, like group counseling and twelve-step meetings.

So, no one is handing out drugs on the street. After being in a methadone program for an extended period of time, addicts may be given “take home” doses. This is only offered to those with clean track records, though.

There are pro’s and con’s to Suboxone and methadone maintenance. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Is it a helpful tool or a way to enable addicts?

Learn about other forms of harm reduction

We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.