Are you just substituting one drug for another? | Opioid Addiction Treatment Services
No. Methadone maintenance therapy is much like using “The Patch” or nicotine gum to quit smoking. Cigarette smokers are addicted to nicotine. It is exceedingly difficult to quit smoking by going “cold turkey.” So, instead, many people use “The Patch” or nicotine gum to regulate and control their nicotine cravings while they learn to live without cigarettes. Eventually, they are weaned off of the nicotine replacement and are able to live completely cigarette- and nicotine-free. Methadone treatment is akin to “The Patch” for persons with opioid dependency. Methadone regulates and controls their cravings while they learn to live without drugs and abandon the harmful lifestyle that accompanies drug use. The only difference between a nicotine addiction and an opioid addiction is the substance abused and the nature of the addiction.
Methadone is not a substitute “high” or short-acting opioid like heroin or pain pills. Methadone is a long-acting opioid, and it simply relieves the patient's physiological opioid craving. Methadone normalizes the body's metabolic and hormonal functioning that was impaired by the use of illicit opioids. Unlike the disruptive nature of short-acting chemicals on the brain, methadone has long-acting properties that provide metabolic stability. In addition, methadone neutralizes the euphoric effects of other opioids, leaving the patient with little desire to abuse illicit street drugs.
Unlike illicit drug use, when methadone is taken as prescribed, long-term administration causes no adverse effects to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, bones, brain, or other vital body organs. Some mild side effects may arise during the initial phase of treatment, but they usually subside or disappear as the patient's dosage is adjusted and stabilized, or when simple medication interventions are initiated.