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Methadone Maintenance vs Detoxification

by General Marketing

Opioid addiction is on the rise in the United States. Statistics obtained from the CDC show that over 70,000 people died from taking excessive amounts of drugs in 2017 and 68% of those deaths were caused by opioids. This has prompted addiction experts to seek the most effective treatment options for people with opiate addiction.

There’s an ongoing debate about the most effective method for treating opiate addiction. Physicians and therapists — as well as their patients, who need to recover from opioid misuse disorder — are faced with the option of methadone maintenance vs detoxing.

Here’s a brief description of these two popular methods used to treat opioid addiction and why we believe that methadone maintenance is the more effective option.

What Is Detoxing From Opioids?

Detoxification is a treatment method that involves supervised withdrawal from opioid use. During the process of detoxing, the patient experiences withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, tremors, agitation, aching muscles, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

While these symptoms don’t typically cause death or lasting harm, they can be extremely uncomfortable, making it so difficult for many to successfully detox. The patient’s reaction depends on the number of opioids taken regularly and how fast the opioids are withdrawn. Natural opiates, or organic based opiates, like heroin usually produce shorter but more intense symptoms.

It’s important to note that detoxification by itself is not a permanent solution for opioid misuse. Most patients continue taking the drug if other more effective treatment options are not applied.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to detoxing that works perfectly for every patient. In many cases, physicians do what is known as methadone detox and replace the opioid that was misused with another one like methadone and then reduce the quantity taken over a period of several weeks.

What Is Methadone Maintenance for Opioid Addiction?

Methadone makes the withdrawal process less painful and helps reduce the craving to misuse opioids. It also improves the patient’s ability to function socially and productively during treatment.

The evidence that backs up the positive effects of methadone has increased, leading to the World Health Organization (WHO) including it on its essential drug list. Methadone has helped patients reduce drug use and avoid criminal acts to get money for drugs. Methadone maintenance has also helped reduce fatalities from opioid overdose.

However, since methadone can be diverted to the illegal drug market, patients need to attend specialized clinics to use this drug. It can be taken orally or through injections and needs to be renewed every 36 hours. Methadone may be used indefinitely, or the dose may be reduced gradually to prepare for withdrawal.

Why Methadone Maintenance Is the Better Option

Methadone maintenance is a better treatment method because it helps control withdrawal symptoms more effectively than detoxification. In a study of 179 veterans who were diagnosed with opioid misuse, the analysis of the study carried out on two groups showed that the patients in the group with methadone maintenance stayed in treatment much longer than patients who received detoxification.

Contact Your Nearest Health Care Resource Centers Location

If you need to recover from opioid addiction, HCRC is here to help you get your life back on track. You can look at the map on our home page and choose the location that’s closest to you. You can also reach out to us now by completing our contact form or by calling 866-758-7769.

Medically Reviewed By:

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

The Clinical Team at Health Care Resource Centers is our team of physicians and medical directors within the organization. HCRC is a CARF accredited organization and has been providing addiction treatment services for over 32 years in the New England area.

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