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Drug Detox and Rehab May Finally Replace Methadone for Heroin Addicts
Methadone treatment is finally being recognized as the abject failure that it is. The original idea behind methadone was to substitute it for heroin only for a brief time to relieve withdrawal symptoms while curing the person of addiction. The only circumstance under which methadone was to be used long-term was if every effort to cure the addiction had failed. However, efforts to cure drug addiction are now rarely offered to those given methadone, and methadone treatment has turned into little more than a vehicle to turn heroin addicts into methadone addicts. It’s now called ‘methadone maintenance’ and it hooks heroin addicts on methadone for years, if not for life – with no effort whatsoever put into the drug detox and drug rehab programs that are needed to cure addiction. Fortunately, the days of the methadone maintenance program are numbered.
What’s wrong with methadone maintenance? In a nutshell:
- Methadone is a highly addictive drug, at least as addictive as heroin.
- Methadone generally stays in the system longer than heroin – up to 59 hours, according to the FDA, compared to heroin’s 4 – 6 hours. However, unlike heroin, you can’t really tell it’s there. Users may take another dose, not knowing the previous dose is still affecting them and, dose after dose, the methadone accumulates to toxic levels. You never know if the next dose is going to be the one that tips those levels beyond what the body can tolerate. If it is, you’re a goner. In fact, twice as many deaths are attributed to methadone than to heroin – even though twice as many people use heroin.
- Methadone can also be deadly in combination with other drugs and with alcohol. Taken with other opiates – heroin, morphine, Vicodin or OxyContin, for example, which is not unusual for methadone users – the effects of the drugs combine to slow down your systems, put you to sleep and, next thing you know, your relatives are being called to identify your body. No warning, no clear indication that there’s a problem.
- Withdrawal from methadone is often even more difficult than withdrawal from heroin. As painful and uncomfortable as heroin withdrawal can be, methadone can be even worse. When you’re withdrawing from heroin, medical drug detox may be advised. With methadone, you’ll almost certainly need it.
Perhaps the worst thing of all about methadone is that it’s legal: Because it’s not a crime to take methadone when administered by a methadone clinic you are way too far off the addiction and abuse radar. Officials are more interested in what illegal drugs are doing to people and, even more so, with the crimes being committed to support illegal drug habits.
Why does it look like methadone treatment is on the way out? A recent study conducted by the Center for Drugs Misuse at Glasgow University in Scotland revealed that one in three heroin addicts who go through residential drug rehab – although they may need a medical drug detox for the withdrawal process – are drug free after three years.
The success rate of methadone is less than one-tenth that – the study found that only three percent of those on methadone were clean after the same time period.
These statistics indicate that methadone treatment for heroin addiction is, possibly, the least successful drug treatment ever. In fact, heroin addicts have a better chance of getting off heroin cold turkey than with methadone treatment.
In the face of such abysmal success rates, it’s hard to imagine that methadone clinics are going to be around much longer – any self-respecting drug treatment professional, knowing the risks and the rate of failure, would find it difficult to justify administering methadone treatment instead of getting someone through drug detox and rehab.
If you or someone you care about is on heroin, don’t take a chance with methadone. Opt for a medical drug detox program and follow it up with a longer-term residential drug rehab. Messing with methadone only prolongs addiction, and the risks are even higher than they are with heroin.
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