Forty Years of Changes in Treating Addictions
Methadone hydrochloride is a drug that has successfully been treating opiate addictions for over 40 years. It is now widely accepted in both the medical community and psychiatric community, as the best treatment for people suffering addictions to heroin and narcotic pain medications. Methadone Maintenance treatment is quickly losing the stigma of being simply the last ditch attempt to treat long term addicts who are seen as a drain on society. Opiate addiction is finally being recognized for the widespread problem that it truly is.
Methadone maintenance treatment means treating the addiction as a disease and recognizing that, like many other medical problems, it may take long term treatment and prolonged use of medication to help the person recover. This is a fairly recent approach to treating addiction. In the past, addiction was treated more as a moral or personal weakness and people suffering addictions were not treated with the respect and understanding they deserved. When the accepted views toward alcoholism started to changed, the views about addiction also began to change. This brought about a search for a greater understanding of what causes addiction and how best to treat it.
Entrance into methadone programs has become easier in the last ten years. Clinics are no longer required to make acceptance criteria as stiff as they once were. This means a person can be accepted into a program without needing to demonstrate a prolonged addiction or a long history of failed attempts at overcoming the addiction without the use of methadone.
Methadone clinics are now available in many small cities as opposed to only in major metropolitan areas. This makes treatment available to people who live in small towns or other rural areas. Because most treatment centers require that a daily dose is taken under direct medical supervision for the first several weeks or even months, clients are no longer forced to move to other cities to receive treatment. Staying close to family members and other support systems can mean a quicker return to a normal lifestyle. Close-by treatment centers can also treat family members and friends who have been directly affected by the person’s addiction.
How do methadone clinics help addicts?
Methadone is a synthetic substance, which means it is man-made in a laboratory and not the byproduct of a plant. It has been used to treat long term pain because it can effectively treat pain without affecting a person’s ability to function. This makes it ideal for people who have become addicted to prescriptions due to chronic pain. A single dose lasts up to 24 hours and does not require the dose to be regularly raised to achieve the desired effects. It does not, on the other hand, produce the feelings of euphoria created by other narcotic substances.
One of the important properties about methadone is that it attaches itself to the same receptors as other opiates and this action blocks the effects of narcotics if a person uses those substances while taking methadone. This means while the person does not experience the euphoric effects of the narcotic, he or she also does not experience the cravings and physical symptoms produced by withdrawal; the effects of the opiates are lowered, making them less desirable. This effect is most advantageous when addicts are attempting to lower the dosage of opiates that they require on a daily basis; the addicted person will not need to obtain the usual amount of illegal or prescription opiates.
Methadone is taken by mouth in pill or liquid form. This has significantly lowered the incidences of HIV and hepatitis in many cities, both frequently transmitted through the use of shared needles. Because it is taken by mouth and not injected, addicts who can no longer find a viable vein can still take methadone. Methadone is also suggested for pregnant woman who are addicted to opiates because it is safer for the fetus than other narcotics. This treatment is becoming more and more excepted around the world.
Studies have shown that methadone maintenance therapy, in conjunction with intense group and individual therapy and other social services, can successfully maintain a corrective effect, allowing the person to live a normal and productive life. Many people who receive methadone maintenance treatment are able to hold jobs, maintain meaningful relationships and raise families.
With methadone becoming easier to obtain, and more social services available in communities throughout the country, more and more people with opiate addictions are finding the help they need to put their addiction behind and start a life that is not based on drugs. Unfortunately, there are still many habits associated with the addiction that must be broken and changed for methadone treatment to be successful. The addicted person must make major lifestyle changes and stop associating with other people who are part of the past and this is sometimes the downfall of even the most dedicated recovering addicts. It can be very painful to stop being with people who have been a part of one’s life and sometimes even lovers or spouses. It takes determination and commitment to truly beat an addiction, but with the help of community-based methadone treatment clinics , therapy and social services, it can be done.