Methadone: Drug Treatment or Just Another Addiction?

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Drug addiction to Opiates (Oxycontin, Vicodin, Heroin, etc) is one of the hardest to overcome. The physical withdrawals resemble a severe case of the flu that can last for several days, and many addicts immediately revert to drugs or find themselves rushing to the methadone clinic to ease their symptoms. Drug treatment, however, which hands out another highly addictive opiate doesn’t make sense.

Methadone, a synthetic form of an opioid, acts much like heroin. It inhibits the opioid receptors in the brain. Where heroin releases an abundance of dopamine in the system and creates a euphoric high from this same receptor, methadone blocks the high and reduces the withdrawal symptoms from heroin. In this way, methadone has proven to be an effective form of drug treatment. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Fact Sheet on methadone, “Methadone is a rigorously, well-tested medication that is safe and efficacious for the treatment of narcotic withdrawal and dependence.”

If the desired effect is narcotic withdrawal, why is it acceptable to make the opiate addict dependent on another drug? The same fact sheet also reports that “ultimately, the patient remains physically dependent on methadone.”

Former heroin addicts who went through a methadone program as a drug treatment, report that the withdrawal symptoms are much more intense than withdrawing from heroin. One former addict said, “I’ve been on both ends of withdrawals, heroin and methadone. Every patient of methadone will always tell you the same as I do: I can kick heroin anytime, but methadone – that is something else. In 15 years of heroin addiction, I’ve kicked [heroin] 3 times. In 10 years on methadone, I’ve never kicked.”

The advocates for methadone look at the fact sheet and point out the statistics that say weekly heroin use decreased by 69% for those addicts on a methadone drug treatment program, and that criminal behavior decreased by 52%. That leaves 31% of methadone patients who still use heroin weekly. What about the 48% of addicts who take methadone and still engage in criminal activity? What happens to all these patients when they decide that they want to free themselves of their new dependency on methadone?

Thinking logically, drug treatment that simply creates new addictions in place of the old does not compute. Those suffering from opiate addiction deserve drug treatment that offers more than just easing their withdrawal symptoms and reducing their cravings. Ultimately, the drug treatment must focus on freeing the opiate addict from ALL drug dependencies.

Drug Free Rehabilitation centers (ones that do not use drugs or medication to replace other drugs) exist. One such center, Narconon Vista Bay which can be found at, approaches drug treatment in a natural, holistic way A closely supervised withdrawal program, coupled with a breakthrough detoxification process, can free opiate addicts from their dependency on all drugs and help them to build a productive life, without the need of a daily dose of methadone.

Yes, overcoming opiate addiction can be difficult and perhaps a little painful. Yes, taking a daily dose of methadone is pretty easy. However, the consequences of taking methadone as a drug treatment solution can, and most likely, will only create additional problems for the opiate addict.

Lora French writes on a variety topics surrounding drug treatment. For more information on drug-free rehabilitation, visit If you plan to reproduce this article, please include the link above.

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