Although it was first used for pain in the 1930’s, methadone wasn’t used to help treat heroin and morphine addicts until the 1960’s. Through pioneering research in 1964, it was observed that patients could replace the opiate they were abusing, (opiates like heroin or morphine) for methadone without experiencing severe side effects such as euphoria, withdrawal symptoms and mood swings. The successful treatment option that opiate addicts could receive by taking methadone doses to block street cravings led to these two researchers opening the first methadone maintenance program in New York.
Unfortunately, methadone addiction became an unintentional backlash to block the effects of withdrawal from heroin and morphine (including pain and anxiety prescription pills) over time. As more and more opiate addicts sought treatment to make their withdrawal transition an easier process, the rise of methadone clinics grew higher and higher. However, many methadone abusers have become a part of a glutted drug recovery system where they are trapped into a world of addiction that is directly fostered by the traditional methadone clinic.
This practice is why so many methadone clinics have paled in significance. The result? Long term addiction. There has been a recent rise in methadone overdoses and the majority of these overdoses are from illicit use. Although addicts can buy methadone illegally, it is much easier and cheaper to receive their daily dosages at a methadone clinic instead. Plus methadone does not control a person’s emotional desire to get high.
Unlike heroin (which only takes 4 days or so for withdrawal), methadone withdrawal takes up to two months or longer! This is why methadone is seen as one of the most addictive legal drugs in America. Most individuals intend to go to a methadone clinic for legitimate reasons; they want to wean themselves off of another opiate with the expectation of getting clean in time. Others go just to get high. The biggest problem associated with methadone clinics is that they are organizations designed to provide methadone addicts with a functional life by substituting their former drug of choice with methadone.
Methadone clinics operate for profit, and the doctors, nurses, and counselors are there to help patients who are struggling with an addiction to keep coming back to receive their regular dosage of methadone as long as they can pay or can set up some type of payment arrangement. Some go to the methadone clinic for years, even decades because they are hopelessly addicted. Others try to quit but always go back, because they start suffering withdrawal symptoms usually within the course of two days. Instead of being a facility where a person can expect to receive detox treatment, methadone clinics have become a place where methadone addicts can support a legal addiction every day.
Aside from addicts now being forbidden from taking methadone back home with them, regulations for methadone clinics are virtually absent. Even worse, if a patient fails a drug test, (mixture of methadone and other drugs such as OxyContin, Valium, Xanax, Percocet are present in the system), it does not count against them just as long as they return the next day to get another dose of methadone. For right now, addicts can go to the methadone clinic for as long as they need to. The clinics are not setup to help individuals detox while on methadone. Therefore, the only option for opiate addicts who really want to detox from methadone itself is to go to a specialized institution. Because methadone is stored into the fatty tissue, the potential for a person to die from an overdose is considerably higher.
Overall, methadone clinics have relaxed their criteria for admitting new clients their zeal to increase treatment. Although the purpose is to make treatment more accessible to addicts, treatment facilities may be admitting people who are not in need of methadone maintenance, and therefore unnecessarily become subject to methadone dependence and withdrawal. Once a person becomes physically and psychologically addicted to methadone, the yearning for that substance will never entirely leave and also increases the users’ participation in crime.
Traditional methadone rehabilitation does not focus on removing methadone from the body (detox) and from the individual’s surroundings. As mentioned earlier, it has a narrow focus: Keeping individuals from experiencing any withdrawal while staying away from other illegal and prescription opiates. It should also provide treatment for the patterns of behavior and the emotional issues surrounding your addiction. These clinics do not incorporate the physical, spiritual and emotional sides of a person are connected. If there are weaknesses found in any of these, a methadone abuser’s defenses will deteriorate. Methadone addicts often face unique challenges.
Emotional well-being is a crucial factor in recovery, just as it is so influential in the decision to experiment with drugs; this is especially the case for people who suffer from impulsive personality disorders (bipolar or borderline) who are more likely to abuse drugs than individuals without these issues. The fall of traditional methadone clinics has occurred because they do not help an individual with a meth addiction to receive effective treatment in these areas.