MethadoneOne of the most common treatments for opioid addiction, and most commonly heroin addiction, is Methadone therapy. Although it has worked for a lot of people, it does pose its own significant dangers. What this therapy is really doing is simply replacing one addiction with another.

Methadone is a long-lasting synthetic opiate pain reliever. Similar to morphine and heroin, it acts on the opioid receptors in the body. It is chemically different than both morphine and heroin, and this difference creates a substance that can last from 8 to 59 hours in the body.

Because of its similarity to heroin, it has been used in what is known as methadone therapy to help heroin addicts to detox. This therapy regimen involves providing heroin users with a daily dosage of methadone to control their heroin cravings and suppress withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone is just as addictive as heroin. In addition to being so addictive, its withdrawal symptoms are often found to be far more intense than heroin’s. The effects of both methadone and heroin have been found to be indistinguishable by the majority of users in blind studies.

Did you know that today twice as many drug overdose deaths are attributed to methadone as heroin? The potential for overdose is one of the most glaring problems with methadone. While methadone can offer significant pain relief for four to eight hours, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it remains in the body for up to 59 hours. This long life-cycle of methadone in the body can make it easier to build up toxic levels in the system.

Just like with heroin, methadone users can develop a tolerance to the drug. Methadone addiction is an unavoidable consequence of methadone treatment. Many patients in methadone treatment programs will continue using methadone for years. Others are using methadone indefinitely. Once addicted, the fear of methadone withdrawal keeps these people from kicking the habit for good.

Most of the methadone treatment facilities will dispense only one dose a day for each patient. As they build up a tolerance, many of these patients turn to other sources for higher dosages. Some return to using heroin due to their tolerance and not getting the same high off of the methadone dosage.

Another option for many people is to detox at home on their own. The withdrawal symptoms can be pretty severe, but with the use of withdrawal supplements to relieve some of the discomfort, many have successfully kicked their habit at home.

If medical assisted treatment is still the preferred route, buprenorphine-based drugs, like Suboxone and Subutex, are safer options. Buprenorphine is a opioid that is not as strong as methadone, offering a less significant high, but also much less severe withdrawal symptoms. Severe addiction is less likely.