Does Methadone Help or Hurt Addicts

What is it?

Methadone is a synthetically created painkiller, which is often prescribed to people trying to recover from a heroin addiction. The drug was created to simulate heroin but to a lesser extent, being able to be used to wean addicts off heroin. Like heroin methadone gives the user a sedative and euphoric high, though for some addicts it is simply not enough. The majority of patients prescribed methadone have to visit a doctor, pharmacist or other medically trained professional to receive their medication as methadone also has a street value.


Methadone is essentially a painkiller, and is used medicinally like morphine. Methadone is frequently used to treat patients with terminal illnesses or patients recovering from severe injuries and operations. However it’s most recognizably used to get addicts off heroin. The process involves introducing the addict to an increasingly larger amount of methadone over a number of weeks then eventually, after the user has built up a tolerance, start decreasing the dosage until eventually the addiction is eliminated. Ideally this process would help heroin addicts all over the world but unfortunately it is rarely that simple.

The Problems

Due to the street value methadone has gained, there are many heroin addicts who simply pick up their methadone prescription and exchange it for heroin. Whilst this is trying to be combated by insisting that addicts have to visit a trained professional to receive their fix, there are still certain places which are more relaxed about prescription medication. In addition to this, certain corrupt pharmacies will illegally sell prescription medication to addicts to make some quick money.

Whilst branded as being less addictive and dangerous, methadone still carries many of the same risks as heroin. Taken in high dosages, to more accurately simulate the effects of heroin, addicts risk overdose and death.

Heroin is notoriously one of the most addictive and debilitating drugs available due to the terrible withdrawal symptoms which can last as long as 6 weeks! For many addicts, methadone does not relieve these symptoms sufficiently and if it does, methadone withdrawal symptoms are almost as intolerable. Unsurprisingly relapse is fairly common with recovering addicts and full recovery may take many years.

Good or Bad?

Methadone gets a lot of bad press and many people struggle to see the usefulness of this drug but it has proved to be a successful way of getting addicts off drugs. A strict prescription plan gradually reducing a patient’s reliance on the drug is probably the most comfortable way of recovering from addiction though its success still relies heavily on the patients willpower. Unless an addict has the strength and willpower to face the full symptoms of withdrawal for an indefinite amount of time, recovery with prescription medications is still likely to take over 2 years depending on the patient.

Those of you who have experienced drug addiction directly or through a family member or close friend will know that recovery is never an easy task. The effectiveness of methadone is often down to the addict. If he/she has the patience and willpower to follow a prescription program eventually he/she will recover, but even then it will be a long and arduous process.

This guest post was provided by Stanley Martinson.  Stanley has a myriad of interests but has recently been compelled to write about drug addiction as well as drug rehab, for more info on this subject, .

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