3 Reasons Why Methadone Fails Those Suffering from Addiction

See why treating drug addiction with drugs is counterproductive.

Individuals fighting for their lives in the throes of heroin and other opiates need the most effective heroin addiction treatment available to them. For many years, methadone has been used as a way to treat the painful withdrawal symptoms individuals have when going through drug detox. And, it can make that part of the process a bit easier physically. But, that’s where the “good” stops. For many people, this drug fails them and often countless times.

True heroin rehab does not have to be like this. There are solutions that can help you to avoid the pitfalls of both the detox process and the use of another drug. At Elevate Addiction Services, we offer this type of support to you. But, first, let’s consider what methadone isn’t doing for you.

What Is Methadone?

When a person seeks heroin addiction treatment, he or she will undergo a significant amount of withdrawal. This is the body’s physical reaction to going without the drug it has depended on for, so long. Methadone is a narcotic itself. It is a synthetic analgesic drug, which means that this manmade drug works as a substitute for heroin (as well as morphine) addictions.

Doctors began using methadone as a treatment for opiate addiction in 1964. It is only available through an approved opioid treatment program, designated by the federal government. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 306,000 people were using methadone through these programs as a treatment option for opioid addiction in 2011. This number is larger today.

Often given during heroin rehab, it provides individuals with the ability to feel good and to accomplish tasks routinely again. It seems like a significant improvement from the quality of life they once had.

However, it has limitations and numerous complications. As a narcotic itself, it can create additional difficulties for patients.

Why Methadone Is a Common Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Why do some heroin rehab centers substitute opioids like heroin for this type of drug, then? In short, methadone pills provide those who are facing drug addiction with a medication that makes them feel better. For example, a person can often go about their daily life as normal while taking it. This is a long-acting drug as well. That means it can work for some time, and during that time, individuals feel like they are doing well. It also has a long half-life, which means it remains in the system long term. It’s rather easy to take.

What Does Heroin Do?

To be frank, methadone can help heroin addicts. For example, the withdrawal from opioid use is incredibly intense. Those who are dependent on it may find the fear of detox a very real reason not to go to a treatment center. Opiates also require an ongoing larger amount of the drug to feel better. This type of dependency changes the body physically. And, within just six hours of not using heroin, withdrawal symptoms begin – and, they can last for months.

Methadone works by stopping the cravings for heroin. It also helps to prevent the painful withdrawal symptoms they have. For these reasons, it is often used in rehab centers as a way to help people to stop using.

Some heroin detox centers see all of this is a good thing. Because methadone does not cause the same adverse health effects and stops the feelings of withdrawal common with detoxing, it seems to be a good enough solution. But, it’s really no solution at all.  

But, It’s Failing as Treatment for Heroin Addiction

When a person enrolls in heroin addiction rehab, he or she expects to step away from the location without a dependency on drugs. In many ways, the use of methadone reduces the health risks a person suffers. And, it can cause a significant amount of confidence. Yet, it simply does not resolve the underlying factors.

Here are three ways it is failing those who need help through detox the most.

#1: It’s a Replacement Medication

The primary concern with methadone is that it simply replaces one medication with another. In heroin rehab with methadone, the individual runs the risk of pulling the body off the drug he or she is addicted to, only to face the simple fact that they are now addicted to another one. Yes, it offers fewer risks, but most people want to stop being dependent on a drug to live and get through the day. It is also not without risks. Methadone, like any drug, comes with numerous risks including a feeling of euphoria and sedation. It can cause an individual to become overly drowsy. It is possible to overdose on methadone as well.

A key reason people overdose on methadone is that they can develop a tolerance to the lower doses. This tolerance can build up rather quickly and, as a result, they continuously need more of it to reach the same “high” they desire. That limits a person’s overall ability to walk away from this drug.

#2: It Doesn’t Resolve Underlying Cause of Addiction

Treatment for heroin addiction goes much further than detox. Nearly anyone who enters heroin addiction treatment centers is facing one of the biggest fights and challenges to their life. Most people do not develop a heroin addiction just because they wanted to try it. Something led them to this point. Quite often, it is an internal battle. For some people, for example, depression, anxiety, overwhelming stress, and a fear of failure can be behind them. Using drugs is an escape, an opportunity to move away from their thoughts.

Methadone takes away the physical pain of withdrawal. It does not, however, solve the underlying cause. Heroin detox centers often will incorporate some level of counseling and support, with a goal of helping a person to move on. Yet, in some locations, there is a lack of treatment for what caused the concern in the first place.

True drug addiction treatment goes further. It focuses specifically on helping a person to understand why they took the action they did to be in this place. It works to provide a way to understand why this occurred but also to help them to learn how to avoid it happening again. Self-discovery is invaluable here. Yet, it is often missing from a traditional methadone treatment plan. This leaves individuals quite vulnerable in the long term.

#3: Many Move Through Abuse Cycles Without Long-Term Success – It Can Be Abused

Some people struggling with heroin addiction do stop using. Some do so with the help of methadone. It’s a good thing that the heroin use stops. Yet, for some people, it is just a part of the cycle. They start using heroin again – perhaps because they are no longer getting the same high they once did from the methadone. This can lead to a cycle of moving into and out of addiction recovery centers, sometimes every few months.

This cycle of going back and forth to an addiction center isn’t resolving the problem. The methadone allows the individual to reclaim his or her life after stopping the heroin, but because it lacks any real way of fixing the underlying problem, the user is right back to staring addiction in the face again. This is no way for a person to live, and it simply does not have to be the only solution.

Treatment Programs and Rehab Centers Can Offer a Heroin Solution

Heroin addiction treatment centers can do more and provide a better outcome for individuals if they are given the right tools and resources. Methadone does not have to be a part of the recovery process. A non-12 step program, for example, focuses on getting a person through detox without the pain. And, it provides help for uncovering the underlying health problems a person faces. Take a closer look at how this type of drug addiction treatment may work.


Detoxification is the most important first step in any type of treatment for drug addiction. In a focused program, detox is not only professionally managed, but it is done in a comfortable environment. This allows individuals to intervene to provide individuals with the same method of withdrawal that they need.

Detox is worrisome for most people, especially without the use of methadone. It occurs when the body is craving the drug that it has become reliant on. To demand it, it sends pain signals. It creates nausea. It makes a person restless. It does pass, and with the help of a detox specialist, it does not have to be as horrific as it sounds.

Physical Healing

Physical Healing

The next component of true healing in a drug rehab treatment center is working towards healing the body. Healing the body requires carefully planned treatments to address the physical stresses that opioids create in the body. This includes:

  • Exercise and fitness programs to address the body’s physical needs
  • Nutrition that’s customized to ensure the body receives the tools it needs to heal
  • Solutions for healing pain, such as yoga

The goal here is to focus on giving the body the healthy, wellness tools it needs to overcome the limitations that a person faces. By providing the tools for health improvement, it becomes possible for the body to overcome pain, withdrawal symptoms, and overall long-term health risks.

Emotional Healing

Emotional healing is the next step in the treatment plan, and often rehab centers will do this right along with physical treatment. Many people don’t like to think about the emotional components of the healing process, but it is critical to addressing the cause. In this stage, it is about a person coming to grips with his or her past and determining what his or her future is.

The goal here is to look at yourself, through a variety of methods and programs, to understand what happened and why. This is done with one-on-one therapy sessions as well as with staff counselors. This type of in-patient treatment focuses on providing the mind with the ability to work through concerns and stressors to find the underlying support necessary.

Long-term Aftercare

Treatment inpatient is often best for those who are struggling with heroin addiction. This type of treatment for drug addiction provides an intense level of treatment while also ensuring individuals are able to safely detox. However, that inpatient program does not mean a person is cured. Rather, he or she has the tools to lead them to a drug-free life.

Aftercare treatment is also necessary. It can be one of the most important components to most treatment programs, in fact. This may mean continuing with one-on-one support. It may mean focusing on programs and activities that promote health.

The Holistic Approach

holistic approach

When choosing a drug rehab treatment center, individuals should focus on a holistic program. This creates a recovery process that’s based on improving the mind, body and the spirit. This comprehensive approach can help individuals to work through some of the most difficult times of their lives without having to resort to the use of any drug whether it be a painkiller, heroin, or methadone. The factors that play a role in this type of holistic approach may include:

  • Developing and practicing mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional support and awareness
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Aromatherapy

There are other components of a holistic approach as well. Individuals struggling with addiction may not need to use all of these methods. But, they should work closely with a team that can help to create a customized program that gives their mind and body the ability to heal.

Opioid addiction is life-threatening. Replacing it with a methadone addiction is not a solution. A holistic approach to overcoming addiction is the solution. Elevate Addiction Services provides one-on-one support and guidance to help individuals to reach this level. While every person has to start with detox, it does not have to painful or medicated. It can be effectively managed in a safe environment. Once through this, the use of physical and mental healing begins. Supportive care allows individuals to then create a plan to thrive.

This is what we offer as a drug treatment solution at Elevate Addiction Services. For many, it is exactly what they need to overcome their pain and addiction and live a healthy, long life again.

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