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Methadone or Drug Rehab - Which Is Best for You?

Is Methadone drug rehab better than conventional drug rehab for opiate addiction?

The issue is so contentious because there are significant advantages and disadvantages to both Methadone drug rehab and conventional drug rehab. Ultimately, any therapy that allows for sobriety must be considered better than further drug abuse, and as such either Methadone drug rehab treatment or conventional drug rehab are both better than doing nothing. As follows are an outline of some of the advantages and disadvantages of both Methadone drug rehab and conventional drug rehab; and with a better understanding of the two treatments, addicts seeking help may be better able to chose the type of drug rehab most suited to their needs, and destined to offer the greatest likelihood of long term success and sobriety.

Methadone Maintenance Therapy

Methadone is an opiate, and therefore when taken in sufficient quantities, eliminates the pains of withdrawal from a drug cessation program; but unlike most opiates, Methadone in the doses given for maintenance does not cause euphoria or much sedation.

Essentially, Methadone maintenance therapy allows recovering opiate addicts to function without the pains of withdrawal or a craving for the drug of abuse, and since they are not "high" while using Methadone, they are able to participate meaningfully in society, and are far less likely to return to abuse, crime and other risky behaviors.

Methadone therapy generally takes place in Methadone administration clinics, and recovering addicts are given a dose of Methadone under supervision that effectively stops the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms for 24-36 hours. Because Methadone can be abused, and does have a street value, patients are generally not allowed to take Methadone out of the clinic, although some recovering addicts can earn the right of a few take home doses after a number of negative drug urine tests over a period of months.

Methadone drug rehab is a long term treatment program, and the maintenance phase of Methadone drug treatment lasts for a minimum of 6 months, and for some addicts, can continue indefinitely. When addicts are deemed ready, they are encouraged to begin to reduce their dosage very slowly, and after a period of months of diminishing doses, they eventually become opiate free.

Pros and Cons of Methadone

Pros of Methadone

Because there is no initial very painful period of detox, it is far easier to convince addicts to enter a Methadone program than a conventional drug rehab that does require a painful detox.

  • Methadone when used as directed in Methadone clinics is neither intoxicating nor sedating, and does not damage any of the body's systems, organs or the mind, and Methadone usage does not impair cognitive or memory functioning in any way. Essentially, Methadone when used as directed is harmless.
  • When addicts switch to non intoxicating and safe Methadone, they are at greatly decreased risk to participate in crime or in risky sexual or IV drug behaviors, and the overall health of Methadone maintenance patients generally improves after admission to a Methadone drug rehab.
  • Long term Methadone maintenance allows recovering opiate addicts to function normally in society, without ever experiencing the pains of withdrawal.

Cons of Methadone Maintenance

  • A need to travel daily to take your medication (though some people find this daily check-in helpful).
  • Methadone is very effective and produces a strong physical dependence. Eventual withdrawal can be difficult.
  • Methadone can be fatal. Methadone, although it does not damage the body when used as directed, when taken in larger than recommended doses, or when taken with alcohol or other sedative medications, can be lethal. In 2005 more than 4000 people in America died from accidental Methadone overdoses. On the other hand, opiate addicts are more likely to die (overdose, etc.) when not on methadone.
  • Although Methadone drug rehab programs will often recommend concurrent drug counseling, some methadone users do not get sufficient assistance in making life-changes.

Drug Rehab

Conventional drug rehab for opiates may either be performed on an outpatient basis, or in an inpatient residential setting. This initial and necessary detox off of the drug, although very uncomfortable, is medically supervised to diminish the pains of withdrawal, and appropriate medications are administered for symptoms relief. This detox is always best performed in a medical or rehab facility, away from the temptations to use and access to drugs.

Conventional drug rehab does not end with detox, and recovery begins once the metabolites of the drug are removed from the body. Drug rehab combines cognitive behavioral therapy, peer group therapy, drug and life skills education and private counseling to teach the addict what they need to learn to stay drug free once finished with treatment.

Aftercare continues after the completion of treatment, and recovering addicts are encouraged to retain participation in peer group therapy sessions, and with one on one counseling with a psychologist or addictions professional.

Pros and Cons of Drug Rehab

Pros of Drug Rehab

There are two essential advantages to drug rehab as opposed to Methadone maintenance therapy.

  • Firstly, getting off all substances
  • Secondly, learning life and coping skills to overcome cravings and to make the changes necessary for long term recovery.

Cons of Drug Rehab

  • The single largest barrier to treatment is the necessity of enduring the pains of detox in a conventional drug rehab facility. Methadone, which does not require an initial detoxification off the opiate, requires less motivation to change.
  • The cost and intensity of conventional drug rehab also greatly exceed that of Methadone maintenance therapy. The price of treatment is far higher, and the severity of the addiction generally requires that recovering addicts participate in an inpatient facility for a month or more; which is a month or more away from employment and family. Methadone maintenance therapy is far less disruptive at first, but the commitment to Methadone therapy continues for years, and may continue forever.
  • Heroin and pain pill addicts suffer high recidivism rates even after the participation in a drug rehab program. Drug abuse recovery is a process to health, and it may require more than one stay in a treatment facility to enable lasting change and sobriety.
  • Conventional drug rehab for opiates may either be performed on an outpatient basis, or in an inpatient residential setting. This initial and necessary detox off of the drug, although very uncomfortable, is medically supervised to diminish the pains of withdrawal, and appropriate medications are administered for symptoms relief.

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