Is Methadone a Successful Form of Drug Treatment?

16 Jan 2013

Drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs, but what leads a person to do drugs in the first place? It isn’t a secret that drugs are bad for you and can lead to addiction, health problems or even death, so why do some people make this choice? Many addicts admit that they began using drugs to escape the reality of their lives and to numb feelings that were too painful or confusing to deal with. Others will tell you that they began using to experience a sense of happiness or acceptance that they were missing from their lives. Drug use serves as a way for many users to self-medicate themselves, temporarily relieving themselves from the pain and sorrow they so frequently experience.

There are many other addicts who girl, young woman flying high-with bagsay they started using drugs to enhance their thoughts or energy so that they could live up to the expectations that were placed upon them. Intense feelings of exhaustion, accompanied with high expectations can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed. What starts off a way to enhance one’s performance eventually becomes like the air that we breathe, they just can’t live without it.

Drug use begins as a way to cope or mask underlying issues for many users and eventually results in drug addiction. It is common for an addict to be unable to identify their own contributing factors that lead them to drug use in the first place, but once they stop using and participate in some kind of counseling they are usually able to identify the problem. Although drug addiction is labeled as a physical condition it has many psychological factors that contribute. Getting clean and no longer using drugs is obviously an important part of recovery, but if psychological issues go untreated then the likelihood of staying clean become very slim.

Effective drug treatment entails many different aspects, including detoxifying the body to rid it of any and all substances, along with therapy to address the emotional aspect of the addiction. Another crucial aspect of treatment is education that aids people in learning about the addictive behavior that made them an addict in the first place. Addiction treatment is not simple and for it to be successful it must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug free lifestyle and assist the addict in achieving productive functioning in all areas of their life. For many addicts changing their lifestyle and addressing all their underlying issues can prove to be a much harder task than getting off the drugs. Addiction takes over people’s entire being and alters every aspect of their life. Thus, to successfully treat addiction, a holistic approach that treats all of the aspects of addiction is necessary.

Every person is a unique individual that is unlike any other, which is why there is no one size fits all addiction treatment program. There isn’t just one single treatment program that is appropriate for everyone. The most successful treatment programs are tailored to fit each patient’s needs specifically. For treatment to be effective it must address the specific needs of the individual and not just their drug abuse. It is vital for an addict to fully participate in their treatment and to complete their program, in its entirety, in order to achieve the best results. Drug treatment programs most commonly utilize behavioral therapy as part of their treatment programs, but there are many other methods used as well. Methods of treatment available include, but not limited to holistic treatment, medicated assisted treatment, and various therapeutic treatments, such as cognitive behavioral, individual and group counseling, just to name a few of the most commonly used.

In order to understand what makes addiction treatment successful we first need to understand what drug addiction really is. We briefly discussed the adverse effects drug use and addiction has on a person’s whole life, but for those of you that may still be unclear on what exactly drug addiction is the definition of drug abuse may provide you with some clarity. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary’s defines drug addiction as “a condition characterized by an overwhelming desire to continue taking a drug to which one has become habituated through repeated consumption because it produces a particular effect, usually an alteration of mental status. Addiction is usually accompanied by a compulsion to obtain the drug and a tendency to increase the dose, a psychological or physical dependence, and detrimental consequences for the individual and society.”

Medications have become widely used as a way to “treat” drug addiction. Government funded initiatives report 150,000 people a year are being prescribed methadone to treat their drug addiction. Methadone maintenance programs utilize the drug for treatment anywhere from 12 months to several years. Methadone clinics administer a daily dose of the drug to their patients once a day, adjusting the dose in response to the patients increasing tolerance to the drug. Methadone is utilized to decrease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms in heroin and opioid users. Patients participating in methadone treatments will eventually need to work to withdraw from the methadone itself, which can take several weeks or even months to accomplish.

Daily Medication ProgramMethadone clinics increase their patient’s dose once their tolerance increases, similar to drug users who also increase their doses in response to their increased tolerance. Additionally, addicts and methadone users use drugs on a daily basis. There are many drug addicts that don’t stop using drugs because they don’t want to get sick, so they continue to use just enough to keep their high and prevent withdrawals. Methadone is prescribed to help people get off of heroin without the pain and discomfort of the withdrawals. Happy man with arms up Methadone may be successful in aiding people in giving up heroin, but these people never really end up being drug free because now they are addicted to methadone. It’s comparable to a bank robber giving up on being a thief and deciding to stop doing this by only robbing stores. The tools that are needed to change one’s behaviors and to live drug free are not learned by those patients receiving methadone treatments. Drug addiction all too commonly leads to incarceration, heartache, illness, injuries, and premature death, so why would anyone want to take a chance with it? Getting treatment for drug addiction is often one of the most challenging, yet, most important steps one takes in their lives. So one should do it once, do it right and spare themselves, their friends and family from the pain of watching them go through it time and time again.