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Methadone Pros and Cons. Is MMT Right for You?
Had Enough of Pills?
Is methadone right for you? Learn the truth, good and bad, about this very controversial medication.
Methadone is not a wonder drug, it is not an addiction "cure" and there are certain negatives associated with MMT (methadone maintenance). It is a medication that has been studied very extensively, and one that has helped millions overcome their abuse of street or illicit opiates.
Methadone is also a very controversial medication, the issue of methadone usage can be emotionally charged, and there is a great deal of misinformation about the drug and the realities of methadone maintenance therapy.
Here is a brief overview of the facts, pro and con, of methadone therapy as a treatment for opiate addiction.
- Methadone works. It is an effective treatment for illicit opiate users. Methadone users are more likely than users participating in other forms of treatment to stay of opiates.
- Methadone will greatly minimize cravings and keep "dope sickness" away.
- Methadone is affordable. It is almost certainly cheaper than the cost of illicit opiates, and generally costs only a few dollars a day.
- Methadone is legal and if used as directed is very safe. You do not risk arrest or imprisonment while using methadone. Because it is very affordable, you do not need to break the law to get money for drugs.
- Methadone users greatly reduce their risk of HIV, HEP C and other diseases associated with intravenous drug usage or an addicted lifestyle.
- The daily routine of visiting a clinic for a dosage, although inconvenient, can help people to get back on a normal and productive schedule.
- Regular contact with healthcare professionals improves health and well being and keeps you in contact with other people motivated towards change.
- While on methadone you remain physically dependent on opiates. You will need to follow your dosage routine exactly to keep withdrawal symptoms down.
- Methadone therapy is controversial, and there can be a stigma attached to participating in an MMT program. Employers cannot by law discriminate against you, but they may not be impressed to find you are "addicted to methadone".
- Methadone maintenance can be a very long term commitment. Some people stay on methadone for decades, some forever.
- For the first while (long while) you will have to go to a methadone clinic every day to take your dose under supervision. This can make work, travel and family life more difficult.
- You may have to give urine samples under supervision.
- You may find that methadone has unpleasant side effects. Some people find that methadone makes them feel "foggy". Others complain of weight gain, sexual side effects, tiredness and aches and pains. Everyone reacts differently to methadone.
- Methadone is an opiate and you can overdose on it. If you take too much methadone, or combine methadone with certain other medications, there is a risk of death.
- Methadone is physically addictive and a methadone detox is difficult and painful.
- Methadone is a long lasting opiate. This is an advantage for maintenance therapy, (you don't need to take it more than once a day) but it means that withdrawal symptoms will last for a longer duration than would occur during withdrawal off of a drug like heroin. Withdrawal can take a month or more.
It's a very effective treatment for addiction, but it comes at a price. It works very well and is well tolerated by some, and others find it unbearable. It is not something to take lightly, but it is something that can work.
- Organization of Methadone Advocates
- Medline (Govt.) description and info on methadone
- Erowid's take on methadone
From the vault of real life experience, there is always something worthwhile at erowid
- Methadone guidelines for pregnant women (SAMHSA)
- Govt DPT site on methadone and other pharmacological therapies