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Understanding Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Posted on :  September 16th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT), also known as methadone maintenance therapy, is an all-inclusive long-term treatment program used to address opioid addiction and dependency.

Treatment involves the use of the drug methadone as a substitute for the addictive drug the user was dependent upon, such as heroin or prescription narcotics. In addition to prescribing medication, treatment also includes an array of individualized and specialized assistance including counselling, social and medical services, as well as case management.

What is methadone and how does it work?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid or narcotic medication. A long-lasting drug, it is used as a painkiller, as well as a remedy for opioid dependence.

The drug’s chemical composition allows it to target the same receptor sites in the brain that opioids do. In effect, the body cannot distinguish between methadone and other opioids like heroin, Demerol or Morphine. While this method may sound like simply adding another drug to the equation, methadone acts as an agonist or blocker against other opioids.

When an individual takes methadone, it counteracts the euphoric high achieved from heroin and similar substances. Methadone’s properties also outlast the effects of these other drugs. This characteristic leads to a reduction in substance abuse by the patient and eventually total cessation.

What are the benefits of MMT?

There are numerous benefits to methadone maintenance treatment (MMT), especially when used in conjunction with behavioural health counselling. Here are a few of the advantages provided by MMT:

MMT reduces drug cravings and use. One of the greatest barriers to recovery is a client’s continued urge to take the addictive substance, be it heroin, prescription painkillers or some other opioid. Methadone is essentially an anti-addictive drug that combats drug cravings and use.

MMT helps alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. Physical withdrawal symptoms such as dizziness, insomnia and nausea are alleviated by MMT. It also aids with psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression and mood swings. These symptoms vary from person to person and can often be difficult and painful. Methadone treatment eases the so-called “roller coaster” ride of withdrawal.

MMT can be used long-term. Unlike some forms of therapy, MMT can be managed almost indefinitely. Tolerance to methadone develops slowly, and its effects outlast those of other opioids. As a result, clients can be on maintenance treatment for as long as needed.

MMT reduces high-risk behaviours. Administering methadone along with comprehensive counselling and other health services, MMT effectively reduces high-risk behaviours. Clients are less likely to engage in potentially harmful acts such as sharing drug injection needles, practicing unsafe sex or participating in criminal activities.

MMT improves quality of life. Once involved in MMT, clients report improved physical and mental health, enhanced social functioning and improved quality of life. Many say that once they were on treatment, they finally felt “normal” after suffering for so long.

How is treatment regulated and administered?

The use of methadone for substance abuse treatment is strictly regulated under Canadian law. Physicians must obtain an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to prescribe the drug. In the province of Ontario, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has additional guidelines to ensure doctors provide quality care.

Treatment is administered under the supervision of a qualified physician, who is usually part of a comprehensive team involving counsellors, pharmacists, nurses and other health and social service professionals. The drug itself is taken orally and is usually dispensed as a liquid medicine or a tablet dissolved in water.

Treatment is administered in the following phases:

Stabilization Phase.This phase is where the client becomes oriented to the program. He or she undergoes assessment and is introduced to the medication. The client also addresses feelings related to taking this life-changing step.

Action and Maintenance Phase.This phase focuses on lifestyle changes and adjusting to the absence of substance use. The treatment plan is carefully monitored to ensure continued success.

Tapering Phase. This phase occurs if the client feels he or she is ready to taper off methadone and eventually stop its use. Once again, the plan is monitored, and the client receives needed support during this period.

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is an effective therapy for those seeking to end their struggle with substance abuse.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, contact Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic. We will be happy to help you.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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