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Does methadone replacement therapy really lead to a normal life?
Methadone is widely prescribed as “replacement therapy” for heroin or other opioid addictions. The idea is that methadone, also an opioid, staves off the heroin withdrawal symptoms, so that the addicted person can get on with a normal life instead of chasing illegal drugs night and day. The idea also includes eventually weaning off the methadone and achieving the dream of a drug-free life.
Unfortunately, that happy dream rarely comes true for most methadone replacement therapy patients. Instead, they line up every morning at their local methadone clinic for their little cup of liquid methadone, and it just goes on like this for years. And years.
Even worse, their drug tolerance increases, so more methadone is needed every day. This leads to very high daily doses of 150mg or more. Even at low dosage, methadone withdrawal and detox is difficult enough. But high-dose methadone withdrawal is so difficult and so risky that few detox clinics accept such patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Methadone has been used safely and effectively for decades to treat drug addiction.”
Since methadone leads all opioid drugs in overdose fatalities in this country by more than double (also according to the CDC) it doesn’t sound all that safe to us. And effective? Unless being addicted to methadone for the rest of your life is your idea of normality, it’s certainly not effective therapy. Achieving complete freedom from drugs would be effective therapy.
So we really have to ask: “If methadone is so dangerous, and methadone withdrawal and detox is so difficult, why don’t people just get into detox and rehab right up front? Why prolong the agony with years of methadone addiction?”
First, the government, the public, and even most doctors have been sold a bill of goods that says opioid addiction is a “brain disease that can’t ever be cured.” Tell that to the many patients here at Novus who successfully complete methadone detox. Tell it to any of the countless thousands of recovered opioid addicts who have remained sober and have achieved real normal lives, not methadone-enslaved lives. They’ll tell you that the incurable brain disease theory is simply not true. Bad therapy is what’s true.
Also, a lot of opioid addicts on methadone replacement are there because they want to remain addicts. A drug-free life is someone else’s dream, not theirs. They don’t want to be drug free. What they really want are free drugs.
For these opiate addicts, free methadone clinics are the answer to their prayers. Over half of all methadone patients in the country have access to free methadone at clinics supported by Medicaid, federal and state grants and other sources of public funding. There are a minority of states where no free methadone clinics are available.
Finally, methadone therapy continues to expand because methadone clinics are for-profit businesses. Methadone is a billion-dollar industry. And it’s good business to keep people addicted to methadone, while getting paid by the taxpayers.
There is good news in all this, however. Patients shackled by the “liquid handcuffs” of methadone replacement therapy are welcome at Novus Medical Detox Center, just north of Tampa, Florida, no matter what dosage they are on. Novus is known for its effective medical methadone detox – even high-dosage methadone detox of 150mg a day or more. Our patients can continue on to rehab programs where they can make their dreams of a drug-free life come true.
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