Methadone Addiction Help-Line

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Alternatives to Methadone Maintenance

There are over one million people in the United States that suffer from an addiction to opiates like heroin. It is for this reason that methadone maintenance has become a popular method that is used to alleviate heroin withdrawal symptoms. Methadone programs have had their share of critics as many of the heroin addicts that have sought the popular maintenance treatment program have become hooked on methadone as well. Another reason that methadone has increasingly become a liability in the war on drugs is because many of the individuals that are being treated at maintenance clinics around the country, often sell their methadone on the streets in order to make money to support their heroin habit. This has created an increasingly growing illicit methadone market. It is for this reason that alternatives to methadone maintenance are considered to be well worth exploring.

Drug Treatment

By far, the most effective alternative to methadone maintenance is drug rehab treatment. Instead of risking the possibility of swapping drug addictions from heroin to methadone, and remaining enslaved to the vice grip of opiates, seeking drug treatment is a more sane option. By choosing a drug rehab center that has a high rate of success in treating heroin addiction, the individual is taking the first step towards being free from their opiate addiction once and for all. Although heroin detox is not in any way easy, with the support of the staff at a drug rehab center, an individual can be much more comfortable during this difficult process. A quality holistic drug treatment center will also counsel the individual and offer natural aids that can help to alleviate the discomfort of heroin withdrawal symptoms. Heroin withdrawal symptoms generally last anywhere from 7-10 days. If an individual gambles, by using methadone maintenance to avoid the heroin detox process, they take the chance of becoming addicted to this drug, also. In comparison to heroin withdrawal symptoms, methadone symptoms are reported to be much more horrendous, and can last from 4-6 weeks. The reason seeking drug treatment is the most positive alternative to methadone maintenance is because after detox, an individual can also utilize all of the other components offered by the rehab program. These drug treatment program components can include individual and group counseling and behavioral and cognitive therapy. The aftercare that is offered by quality drug rehab programs can also be invaluable in regards to long term support after successfully completing treatment.


In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of buprenorphine for use in helping to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms that are associated with opiate addiction. Buprenorphine is also a synthetic opioid, as is methadone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which causes it to be less addictive than methadone. This drug works on the same general principles that methadone does, but it is not supposed to be as habit forming and because of this, it can be administered in a more liberal manner. Buprenorphine is manufactured under several different names, including Subutex and Suboxone, which is the combination of the drug with naloxone. The high that is produced by this drug is less intense than with methadone, and the side effects are supposed to be less dangerous. In general, buprenorphine reportedly has less dangerous side effects than methadone. The National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) studies has indicated that buprenorphine is a safer maintenance drug than methadone for the treatment of heroin addiction. Suboxone has rapidly begun to gain approval in the treatment of opiate addiction.  Suboxone contains naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist that is administered orally in a pill form. When Suboxone is taken as prescribed by mouth, the naloxone produces no side effects. If Suboxone is dissolved and used intravenously as a means of getting high, the injected naloxone would cause severe withdrawal symptoms. The combination of buprenorphine and naloxone combined is considered to be much safer than buprenorphine alone because the combination strongly discourages misuse. Proponents of Suboxone have touted the use of the drug as promising. These drugs are available by prescription from doctors that are certified to dispense these medications. Like methadone, Suboxone and Subutex are used to eliminate opiate cravings. In the short amount of time that these drugs have been available, an illicit market for the drugs already exists and is rapidly expanding. The use of buprenorphine has drawn criticism when it has been used in other countries, by experts in the field of drug addiction. The main criticism is that individuals have complained of not being able to kick an addiction to buprenorphine after they have utilized it as a form of treatment for opiate addiction. Drug rehab centers in these countries have treated many cases of buprenorphine addiction in the last several years, and the numbers of these cases that are presented to drug treatment centers are rapidly increasing. Buprenorphine is currently being used on an outpatient basis for treating opiate addictions. Further testing is being done to determine if buprenorphine can be the newest widespread, successful treatment for opiate addiction in the United States.  Opponents of the drug are adamant that this new treatment is nothing more than a legal 'drug swap' and are advocating drug treatment as the best  possible option for opiate addiction.

Critics of drug replacement therapies have added Buprenorphine to the list of narcotic medications that are in essence, just different brands of band aids that are used to cover up, as opposed to healing opiate addictions. Experts in the field of substance abuse that promote a holistic approach to drug addiction, oppose the use of any of these opiate alternatives. Swapping drug addictions is not the logical solution to opiate addiction; the solution is treatment, at a drug rehab center that has a high rate of success in treating drug addiction through natural means. Going through a drug treatment program may not be the easiest solution for an opiate addiction, but it is by far the easiest way to achieve the goal of abstinence which is the best long term solution.

Methadone Facts

  • Because methadone is a synthetic narcotic, it has the potential to produce drug addiction with psychological dependence, physical dependence, and tolerance.
  • Methadone maintenance is not a cure for opiate addiction. Truly, the addict is replacing one drug addiction for another.
  • Your driving license is invalid on a methadone treatment program unless agreed by the DVLA following receipt of supportive medical advice.
  • Methadone lets a person "get along" without heroin. But for the organism to function with some semblance of normality, it must have and indeed demands the presence of methadone. Without it, the person will descend rapidly into painful withdrawal.
  • Methadone is given to addicts in sanctioned methadone programs to reduce their opiate use.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 10 to 22 percent of car crashes involved drivers who have been using drugs (methadone included).
  • Methadone can also be used to withdraw addicts from other narcotics, usually over a 21 day period.
  • In an outpatient methadone addiction treatment program the person does not live at the facility. They come for the activities assigned them each day or the days they are required. They have a support group, but they are not with that support group 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If you do not need to get them away from the group causing the problem, this might be a good way to go.
  • Opiates may possibly increase the risk of miscarriage and still births and opiate users may give birth to smaller babies. It's not a good idea to stop using opiates suddenly if you're pregnant as this can cause premature labor and miscarriage. Methadone may be continued throughout pregnancy to minimize such risk.
  • In methadone maintenance, regular doses of methadone are given to addicts to keep them from using other narcotics.
  • It often takes other newer narcotic detox medications to help methadone addict's become completely free of all opiate drugs.
  • Heroin wears off after a couple of hours, thus requiring several hits each day. Methadone, on the other hand, lasts anywhere between 24 and 72 hours, depending on the dose that you take and on your individual metabolism.
  • Depending on its form, Methadone can also be known as Dimepheptanol.