2. Methadone prevents withdrawal, limits cravings and blocks the effects of heroin, oxycontin and other opiates
The great thing about methadone is that it supports recovery in three different ways.
First, methadone prevents withdrawal.
This means that you can start treatment and recovery without going through a painful and potentially risky detox.
This removes a huge barrier to recovery.
Second, methadone limits cravings.
Methadone can eliminate physical cravings. And for many people, the elimination of physical cravings also reduces psychological cravings.
This means that once recovery is under way, you are less likely to relapse.
Third, methadone blocks the effects of other opiates.
With an adequate daily dose of methadone, there is a blockade effect that makes it physically difficult to feel a high from other opiates.
This is because methadone is a long acting opiate. It out-competes other opiates in bonding to the opiate receptor sites in the brain. It builds up in the body in a good way so that it is available to the brain as needed to keep those opiate receptor sites occupied, satisfied, and unavailable for other opiates that would make the patient feel high.
The opiate receptor sites in the brain of a methadone maintenance patient are already occupied by long acting, stabilizing methadone molecules leaving no room at the inn for any newly arrived, rapid acting, destabilizing heroin molecules (or oxycontin or other opiate molecules).
This helps remove the temptation to use other opiates. Most people don’t like to waste a lot of money paying for drugs that will provide little or no high.
Any one of these three effects would make methadone an amazing medication to support recovery from opiate dependence. And methadone does all three.
Methadone maintenance has other benefits too -like reducing drug overdose risk, risk of transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C, risk of incarceration and more -that I will talk about in future posts.