Methadone maintenance treatment or MMT is a form or treatment for opiate addiction. The United States has been using MMT for well over 50 years. May I add…that methadone maintenance treatment has been and continues helping people overcome heroin addiction with great success. The negative stigma surrounding medicine-assisted treatment including methadone leads society to think badly and negatively of methadone treatment due to misinformation.
The methadone myths in circulation are utterly ridiculous. Yet, people believe these myths without a second thought. People receiving the wrong information and passing it along to others keeps the negative stigma in effect. Most humorous to me is the fact that many of the misconceptions about methadone come from the MMT clients themselves.
It’s a classic tale of miscommunication. One person says something and another passes it on, changing it just a little, and so on and so on. Until it’s a completely different story than what was originally said. With that being said the myths of methadone continue to grow.
The point is people have misconceptions. People have their own thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Some are open-minded and susceptible to new information. Others are stubborn and think that recovering addicts in MMT are nothing more than junkies. The stigma will always be there.
For those of you who want to know the facts or maybe even want a laugh. Here are the facts about methadone maintenance treatment.
10 Methadone Myths
1. Methadone is a substitute for heroin.
False. Methadone is a maintenance drug, not a replacement drug. You will hear me say that over and over again. Methadone is distributed at a methadone clinic. A nurse is present to monitor the client when he or she takes the methadone. Clients are on a stable dosage. Methadone is long-lasting. A doctor with a valid license must prescribe methadone for you to legal obtain usage of it.
Heroin is an illegal street drug. It is fast acting, you feel euphoric when you take it, you don’t have euphoria when you take methadone.
The simple fact is if taken legally Methadone prohibits the client from feeling the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms of heroin and other opiates.
2. Methadone gives you the same euphoria or high as illegal drugs. This causes the person who takes methadone to not be able to normally function.
False. When you are on a stable dose, methadone does not give you any euphoric feelings. If your dose is too low, you will actually still feel somewhat miserable. When a client is stable and properly uses his or her methadone they are so-called “normal”. Simply meaning that it is impossible between the person using methadone and a person who does not use any drugs. The whole point of methadone is to enable the person using it to be able to work, to live, to parent, to sleep, to eat, to function normally without having to experience any painful withdrawal symptoms.
3. Pregnant women should not take methadone.
False. It is recommended that a pregnant woman who is addicted to heroin or any other opiate drugs convert over to methadone. This is done in a hospital that specializes in both prenatal care and pregnant woman prescribed to methadone. This will save the mother and the baby from any harm.
A baby could possibly withdrawal from the methadone after birth which the baby will be gently weaned off of in the NICU. Medical professionals typically use morphine to wean a newborn baby off of methadone. This way the child feels no withdrawal at all.
If a pregnant woman using heroin is sick and withdrawals. It may hurt her and cause harm to the fetus or even a possible miscarriage. Methadone is the correct medication for a pregnant opiate addict. The pregnant woman is doing what is best for her and her baby according to professionals.
4. Using Methadone Rots Your Teeth.
False. Are you serious? How many heroin addicts do you know that take care of their teeth properly? Hell, some don’t even shower. You don’t eat right, you don’t brush your teeth right.
Once you get off of the drugs, you finally feel the pain. Your mouth is falling apart. Blame it on methadone all you want. You did it. Your mouth was a disaster long before you began methadone. The good thing is, now you care enough about yourself and your appearance to go get your dental issues fixed.
5. Methadone makes you gain weight.
False. Wow. Before you got clean when you were in active addiction – How much did you weigh? You probably were anorexic thin but thought you looked good. It’s funny when you think about it. Most of us could stand to put on 10 or 20 pounds. Some even more than that. Now that we are clean, we feel better, we eat more. It’s a fact.
We are not running the streets from dawn till dusk getting money and getting high. Now that we are healthy and don’t do drugs, we eat. Hey, I like to eat. If you put on more weight than you should. Did you ever think maybe you traded one addiction for another?
Consider the situation. Are you overweight now? If so, why do you think that is? I guarantee it’s not the methadone. There is not one little thing in methadone that makes a person gain weight, want to eat more, slows down your metabolism, or anything like that.
6. It is harder to stop using methadone than to stop using heroin.
False. This is how it works. Methadone is long-lasting. You only need one dose per day to prevent withdrawal from occurring. (In specific and rare cases, some people receive split doses)
Heroin lasts for a very short time. You need multiple doses every day to maintain your withdrawal symptoms. When you stop using heroin, the drug is out of your system in approximately 72 hours. You may still experience withdrawal due to the fact that your body is accustomed to having heroin.
Being that methadone lasts longer, it’s not until the tenth day after you stop using that the withdrawal really sets in. The withdrawal symptoms are slower which is why people say it’s worse because it tends to last longer.
When a person is in MMT, he or she gradually lowers their dose so they never have to experience any withdrawal symptoms. There is no specified time it takes to get off of methadone. Every individual case is different. It is up to the person and how they choose to detox. Better yet, when they choose to or if they choose to.
7. Methadone was named after Hitler.
False. This is a rumor that matters to quite a few people. Methadone was invented in Germany. Originally, methadone was a wafer form named Dolophine which is where Adolf Hitler is supposedly involved. Dolophine is actually named after Vincent Dole, a physician in New York city that was one of the first doctors to market methadone.
The -phine in Dolophine comes from Morphine. Morphine originated from Morpheus, the Greek God of dreams. The -dolph or -dolop as said was named after Vincent Dole, not Adolf Hitler as people presume.
Bottom line, Adolf Hitler has nothing to do with the naming of Methadone.
8. Methadone is worse for a person than heroin.
False. Why would a person think a medication can harm you more than an illegal street drug? Methadone does not cause a person harm when used correctly. It does not rot your teeth, your bones, or your organs. It will not make any disease that you may have worse than it already is.
Methadone is actually the only prescription medication used for pain that does not lower the immune system. When a person uses heroin it may seem that the person never got sick, never caught a cold, etc. Actually, you were in a state of euphoria even though you may not think so. That is why you never felt a cold or sickness or body aches. Now that you’re not high on illegal drugs, you feel the harm that heroin has done to your body. Methadone does not make it worse or cause any of this.
9. Methadone gets into your bone marrow.
False. If you are on methadone, I’m sure you have heard this myth. Methadone does not get into your bone marrow. The truth is that methadone settles in your fat cells. The more fat cells you have the longer it takes to get out of your body.
To simplify that statement, if you are heavy and out of shape, your methadone withdrawal will take longer than someone who is fit and doesn’t seem to have an ounce of fat on their body.
Once in recovery from substance abuse, you should start taking care of yourself anyhow. This is just another reason to eat healthy, exercise, and live clean.
10. Mothers can NOT breastfeed while on methadone.
False. Doctors actually recommend that a mother on methadone breastfeed. First, the colostrum which is the first bit of breast milk is extremely beneficial to the baby. Second, it will lessen the baby’s withdrawal from the minuscule amount of methadone transferred to the baby in breast milk.
The one and only reason a mother on methadone should not breastfeed her child is if she is HIV or AIDS positive.
I hope these ten myths shed a little light on what you had in mind about methadone maintenance treatment. The stigma and negativity simply come from misinformation, dishonesty, and fabrication. Methadone maintenance is a medication assisted treatment that has saved many lives. Due to the harsh symptoms of heroin withdrawal, methadone maintenance treatment allows addicts to recover and live the life that they have always wanted.