The Truth About Methadone
Methadone maintenance is a treatment strategy for heroin addiction that has been helping people for decades. Methadone, like heroin, is an opioid drug. As such, it can help addicts maintain sobriety from heroin without experiencing the devastating withdrawal symptoms that lead so many back to the drug. Many people misunderstand methadone and believe that it is just another form of drug addiction.
Learn the truth about this effective harm reduction strategy with these methadone myths and facts.
Methadone Myths And Truths
Myth: Methadone is just a substitute for heroin. Although it is also an opioid, methadone is not a substitute drug. It is a valid medical treatment for heroin addiction. What happens in detox from drugs, particularly from heroin, is withdrawal so terrible that few people can experience it without going back to using. For a drug as serious as heroin, withdrawal and cravings last for a long time. Methadone helps mitigate those symptoms so that addicts can resist the urge to go back to heroin.
Myth: People using methadone are methadone addicts. Methadone maintenance is a medical treatment, and anyone going through this treatment is doing so under the direction of a doctor. Using methadone in this way does not simply mean that a person’s addiction is transferred from heroin to methadone. While it is accurate to say that a person in treatment is physically dependent on methadone, he is not addicted. He is not experiencing negative consequences from the fact that his body needs the methadone. This is the line between dependence and addiction and between methadone maintenance and heroin addiction.
Myth: Methadone makes you gain weight and rots your bones and teeth. Substance use and abuse cause a number of ill health effects, but the idea that methadone maintenance is bad for your health is not completely true. Methadone can cause dry mouth, which can increase the risk for tooth decay. Proper dental care mitigates this risk. An incorrect dosage can cause bone pain, but it does not cause bone decay. Finally, weight gain can occur with methadone maintenance, but only because getting off heroin means a return to a normal appetite.
Myth: Methadone causes sterility. This is absolutely untrue. It can sometimes lower testosterone in men, but this does not cause a man to be sterile. It can also be diagnosed and easily treated when it does occur.
Myth: Methadone cures heroin addiction. It would be nice if this were true, but in reality there is no cure for any type of addiction. Methadone maintenance is a medical treatment for heroin addiction. Success rates for opiate addiction treatments vary based on the individual, but methadone maintenance works well for many addicts. With this kind of medical treatment as well as therapy and support, many people are able to stay sober.
Methadone often gets a bad rap as a drug used to treat a drug addiction, but the truth is that it has been used for decades because it really does help people addicted to heroin.
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