Methadone has been used for decades to treat individuals struggling with addiction to prescription pain medications and illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. As the gold standard of care, methadone is known to be most effective when supported by substance use counseling and other recovery services.
Methadone success rates range from 60 to 90 percent, with outcomes improving the longer a patient remains in treatment. Compared to the reported 5 to 10 percent long-term success rate for abstinence-based, non-medical treatments, methadone’s value becomes clear.- The Fix: 7 Things You Need to Know About Methadone Treatment
Methadone is a long-acting, full opioid agonist medication that can be provided in an opioid treatment program for the management of opioid use disorder. Methadone fully activates the same mu-opioid receptors in the brain that are activated by other opioids. However, methadone treatment is not just substituting one drug for another. Methadone reduces withdrawal and cravings so that a patient is able to stop using illicit opioids. Methadone can also help restore chemical balance to the brain which allows patients to feel “normal” again and work on their recovery.
Methadone is long acting, and a single daily dose taken by mouth can prevent withdrawal and cravings for 24-36 hours. A therapeutic, stabilizing methadone dose is different for each patient and is determined by many factors. The duration of time that each patient remains on methadone treatment is also individually determined through discussions with the patient and treatment team, guided by the latest evidence for effectiveness of MAT.
By law, methadone can only be dispensed through a licensed Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) certified by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Health Care Resource Centers are certified by SAMHSA, state health services departments and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
For more information about medication-assisted treatment with methadone, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.