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A Brief Information Guide On How Methadone Works In Heroin Addiction Treatment

Jul 23, 2008
Methadone is definitely the most popular medication used for heroin addiction treatment in the United States today. This medication has been in use since over three decades and still remains widely used, despite the emergence of the more convenient buprenorphine in recent times. When it comes to opiate addiction treatment, which includes heroin and morphine, methadone is the drug of choice in most treatment centers of the nation.

Let us understand the method of addiction treatment for heroin using methadone.

How does Methadone act in Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Methadone is an opiate just like heroin is. When the person is provided a dosage of methadone, the substance will act on the same centers of the brain that heroin does. For that reason, the person will feel a tremendous reduction in the craving for heroin. As long as the person is on methadone treatment, there will be no craving for heroin felt.

Hence, the main principle of using methadone for heroin addiction treatment is to mitigate the person's craving for heroin, which in turn can help the person come out of the heroin dependency. Effectively, the person's craving for heroin is replaced by a regular and controlled usage of methadone. For this reason, methadone treatment is usually called as methadone maintenance treatment because it maintains the craving for heroin at a particular level and then gradually diminishes it.

Another that it does, apart from reducing the person's craving for heroin, is that it effectively blocks the high that heroin can produce. Hence, when a person uses methadone, they will not be able to feel the euphoria created by heroin even if they use the drug. This can help them overcome the temptation for using the substance completely.

However, it must be remembered that methadone is an opiate itself. For that reason, there is a very strong chance that methadone can cause an addiction for itself in the person. In fact, this is supposed to happen because this is the entire premise of the heroin treatment. That is the reason methadone treatment is supposed to be given in a controlled manner and only by a treatment provider who is well experienced in the methadone treatment. The addiction for methadone remains, but the intense urge for heroin is slowly phased out with the methadone treatment.

What is the Dosage of Methadone used in Heroin Addiction Treatment?

The dosage of methadone might depend on the nature of the person's addiction and from one treatment center to another; however, the general dosage that is prescribed to the person is once a day. When it is taken once, the dosage is enough to repress the effects of heroin withdrawal for about one day. That means, within this period, the person will not feel the craving for heroin. Being a maintenance medication though, methadone will need to be taken the next day around the same time again or the person may again start feeling the effects of withdrawal.

Gradually though, this dosage is lowered. The patient is constantly monitored during the entire length of the methadone treatment to check how the person is responding to the treatment. As the person's craving for heroin reduces, slowly the amount of methadone that is provided to the patient is also lowered. This is brought down marginally at first and when the person comes to a stable level, that amount of methadone dosage is maintained for the further course of the treatment. However, it will be a long time before the medication of methadone is completely stopped for the person.

Why is Methadone always provided in an Inpatient Treatment Program?

Methadone is an addictive substance. That is one reason why its treatment should always be monitored. If not, there is a chance the person will develop an inclination for using methadone for recreational purposes. The second reason is that methadone can react drastically with some other prescription drugs that the person might be using. In some cases, this interaction can have fatal repercussions. In order to avoid such drastic eventualities, it is necessary to constantly monitor the methadone treatment.

Methadone treatment for heroin addiction is a very sensitive form of treatment with many chances of going wrong if the right kind of care is not taken. That is why this treatment is always provided in an inpatient detox program so that the progress of the treatment can be monitored. In some people methadone is contraindicated, such as in pregnant women. Such points also need to be taken into consideration.
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