Pros and Cons of Methadone Maintenance

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With the advancement of treatment knowledge and medical understanding of addiction, methadone maintenance may not be suitable for everyone, yet, it is a good idea to explore the pros and cons methadone maintenance if you or someone you know is suffering from an opioid addiction.

Methadone Maintenance Pros

Since its implementation, methadone maintenance has incorporated multifaceted services into their programs including psychotherapy, counseling, and other resources to help addicts recover from opioid addiction in a stable and progressive manner. It has been proven successful by:

  • Reducing withdrawals, suppressing cravings, and blocking opioid effects to reduce their use for 24 hour intervals between doses.
  • Improvements in health and the prevention of diseases. The reduction of needle sharing and other risky and unwanted behaviors further enhances the addict’s ability to function physically and psychologically in daily life.
  • Management of daily doses give the addict structure in their lives and can be adjusted as needed for tolerance or other objectives.
  • Drug monitoring and individual counseling helps the addict to be accountable and cope with stressors and issues in their life while refraining from opioid use.
  • Cost of methadone maintenance is usually less than alternative treatments and payments may be reduced or reimbursed by Medicaid or other insurance plans.
  • Group counseling provides insight, feedback, and support from others undergoing similar recovery plans.
  • Access to shared resources, referrals, and education for issues that are common among opioid addicts can promote a greater degree of engagement in the recovery process.
  • There is no time limit on methadone maintenance treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “no matter how ideologically attractive the notion of a time-limited methadone treatment for heroin abusers, longer-term methadone maintenance treatment is far more effective.” As long as there is a chance of relapse and the addict is following the treatment program, their needs to continue in treatment may be indefinite.

Methadone Maintenance Cons

methadone benefits

While methadone is a helpful treatment, it carries many risks.

  • Side effects from using methadone may include nausea, constipation, frequent urination, sexual dysfunction, and addiction. Yes, methadone is addictive. However, in a methadone maintenance program, the addict and the counselors work together to mitigate problems as they arise and to maintain beneficial control as the addict proceeds in their recovery while reducing the harmful behaviors associated with opioid abuse.
  • Abuse of methadone and other illicit drugs is possible. Addicts may alternate between opioids and methadone or sell their excess take home doses, although the behaviors are discouraged through various methadone maintenance control techniques.
  • Methadone treatment follows structural procedures that may be unsuitable to some people such as required daily visits, random drug testing, or controlled doses that are determined by the methadone provider.
  • Methadone treatment should be considered a longer term treatment because there is a high probability in relapse to opioids if ending treatment in less than a year.

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