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How Does Methadone Help With Addiction?

Get answers to questions like “how does methadone help with addiction?” and “where can I get treatment?”

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How Does Methadone Help With Addiction? A Closer Look

Methadone is a medication that’s been used for decades. It plays a crucial role in the field of addiction treatment. It’s a powerful tool that can help people regain control of their lives, breaking free from the chains of addiction. But how does methadone help with addiction?

Let’s dive into this topic and shed some light on this life-changing medication.

how does methadone help with addiction

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid created by German scientists in the 1930s. It was initially designed as a painkiller. Over the years, its role has evolved. Today, it’s a crucial tool in combating opioid addiction.

How Does Methadone Help With Addiction?

So, how does methadone help with addiction? The answer lies in its unique interaction with the brain.

Methadone binds to the same receptors as opioids, but it does so more slowly and steadily. This controlled interaction helps to reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that often pose a hurdle in the recovery process.

Methadone serves as a bridge, aiding people in their transition from addiction to recovery.

Long-Acting Nature

One of the key characteristics of methadone is its long-acting nature. It stays in the body for an extended period. This is often between 24 to 36 hours.

This enduring effect is a significant reason why methadone is so beneficial in addiction treatment.

Opioid Addiction and Withdrawal

When a person is addicted to opioids, their brain becomes used to having the drug present. If the drug gets removed, the brain reacts with a range of unpleasant symptoms.

These can include things like:

This is called withdrawal.

How Does Methadone Help With Addiction? Curbing Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone helps to prevent these withdrawal symptoms. It does so by “tricking” the brain into thinking it’s still getting the opioid. But, unlike opioids, methadone doesn’t produce the same high.

This allows the person to function normally, without intense cravings or withdrawal symptoms.

How’s Methadone Administered?

Methadone is usually taken once a day, in the form of a:

  • Liquid
  • Tablet
  • Wafer

It’s given under the supervision of a healthcare professional. This is to make sure the person is taking the right dose and to monitor for any side effects.

How Does Methadone Help With Addiction? The Benefits of Methadone in Addiction Treatment

Below are some answers to the question, “How does methadone help with addiction?”

Alleviating Withdrawal Symptoms

Understanding methadone begins with recognizing its role in easing withdrawal symptoms. When a person ceases opioid use, their body responds with a series of distressing symptoms.

These can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes

The severity of these symptoms can be so overwhelming that it pushes the person to revert to opioid use for relief.

Importance of Methadone at This Juncture

This is the juncture where methadone plays a crucial role. Methadone binds to the same brain receptors as opioids, reducing these withdrawal symptoms. It does this without inducing the euphoria associated with opioid use.

This allows people to taper off of opioids, navigating the path to recovery without the burden of severe withdrawal symptoms.

How Does Methadone Help With Addiction? Reducing Drug Cravings

A crucial aspect of understanding “how does methadone help with addiction” involves its role in curbing drug cravings. Cravings are a pervasive part of addiction. They often pose a significant challenge to overcome.

Various factors, such as stress or associations with people, places, or things related to drug use, can cause these cravings.

How Methadone Curbs Cravings

Methadone plays a pivotal role in reducing these cravings. By delivering a slow, consistent level of medication, methadone keeps the brain’s opioid receptors engaged.

This action helps to diminish cravings, enabling people to concentrate more effectively on their recovery journey.

Main Benefits of Methadone in Addiction Treatment Programs

There are several key benefits to using methadone in addiction treatment programs.


First, it can help to stabilize the person. This allows them to function as normal. This can make it easier for them to:

  • Hold down a job
  • Maintain relationships
  • Participate in everyday life

Improving Physical and Mental Health

Methadone can help to improve a person’s physical and mental health. By reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, methadone can help the person to feel better both physically and mentally.

This can make it easier for them to focus on their recovery and make positive changes in their life.

Decreased Risk of Relapse

Methadone can help to reduce the risk of relapse. By providing a safe, controlled way to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, methadone can help to keep the person on the path to recovery.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to request a confidential call. At Rockland Treatment Center, we understand the sensitivity and complexity of your situation and are here to offer you a space to explore treatment options, ask questions, and receive support from experienced professionals. Taking this first step can be challenging, but it’s a courageous and significant move towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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How Does Methadone Help With Addiction?: Risks and Side Effects of Methadone Treatment

While methadone is a powerful tool in the fight against addiction, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with its use. 

Potential for Overdose

One of the main risks is the potential for overdose. If too much methadone gets taken, it can slow or even stop breathing. This can be fatal.

This is why it’s so important for methadone to be taken exactly as prescribed and under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Potential for Dependency

Another risk is the potential for dependency. While methadone is used to help people stop using opioids, it is itself an opioid and can be habit-forming.

This is why it’s typically used as part of a comprehensive treatment program that includes counseling and other forms of support.

Interaction with Other Medication

Methadone can interact with other medications and substances. This can lead to serious complications. This includes:

  • Other opioids
  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Certain other medications

It’s important for anyone taking methadone to let their healthcare provider know about any other medications or substances they’re using.

Common Side Effects of Methadone

Like all medications, methadone can cause side effects. Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Sweating

In most cases, these side effects are mild and go away on their own as the body adjusts to the medication.

Serious Side Effects of Methadone

Some side effects can be serious and need medical attention. These can include:

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Severe constipation

If you experience any of these side effects while taking methadone, it’s important to seek medical help right away.

Still a Valuable Addiction Treatment Tool

Despite these potential risks and side effects, methadone is still a valuable tool in the fight against addiction.

When used as part of a comprehensive treatment program, it can help people overcome their addiction and reclaim their lives.

How Does Methadone Help With Addiction?: Administration and Dosage

Methadone is often administered in a controlled setting, such as a clinic or treatment center. This is to ensure the safety of the person and monitor for any side effects.

Forms of Methadone

Methadone can be taken in several forms, including:

  • A liquid
  • A tablet
  • A wafer

The form used often depends on the specific needs and preferences of the person.

Methadone Administration

The administration of methadone is carefully monitored. This is because the medication can be habit-forming and has the potential for misuse.

By administering the medication in a controlled setting, healthcare providers can ensure that the person is taking the correct dose and can monitor for any potential complications.

Typical Dosage

The dosage of methadone used in addiction treatment can vary depending on several factors. These can include:

  • The person’s size and weight
  • The severity of their addiction
  • Their physical health
  • Their response to the medication

Low Start With Gradual Increase

The dosage of methadone starts low and gradually increases until the person’s withdrawal symptoms and cravings are under control.

This is done to minimize the risk of side effects and to find the lowest effective dose.

Important Note About “How Does Methadone Help With Addiction?”

It’s important to note that methadone treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The dosage and administration of methadone should get tailored to the person’s specific needs.

This is why it’s so important for methadone treatment to be overseen by a healthcare provider who is experienced in addiction treatment.

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How Does Methadone Help With Addiction?: Comparing Methadone with Other Medications

In the realm of addiction treatment, several medications are used to help people on their path to recovery.

While we’ve discussed how methadone helps with addiction, it’s also important to understand how it compares to other medications, such as buprenorphine and naltrexone.


Buprenorphine, like methadone, is an opioid medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. It works like methadone by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors and reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

But, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This means it doesn’t activate the opioid receptors as fully as methadone does. This can make it a safer option for some people, as it has a lower risk of overdose and dependency.


Naltrexone, on the other hand, is an opioid antagonist. This means it blocks the effects of opioids on the brain.

If a person takes naltrexone and then uses an opioid, they won’t feel the usual effects of the drug. This can help to deter people from using opioids.

But, naltrexone doesn’t reduce withdrawal symptoms or cravings. It’s often used after the person has already detoxed from opioids.

Which is the Best Choice?

Each of these medications has its strengths and weaknesses. The best choice can depend on a variety of factors, including the individual’s specific needs and circumstances.

It’s important for anyone seeking help for addiction to work with their healthcare provider to determine the best treatment approach.

How Does Methadone Help With Addiction?: The Role of Counseling and Behavioral Therapies

While methadone plays a significant role in managing the physical aspects of addiction, it’s just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

To fully address the complexities of addiction, counseling and behavioral therapies are often used in conjunction with methadone treatment.

Addressing Psychological Aspects of Addiction

Counseling and behavioral therapies aim to address the psychological and social aspects of addiction. They help people:

  • Understand the root causes of their addiction
  • Develop healthier coping mechanisms
  • Improve their relationships
  • Make positive changes in their lives

Types of Counseling

Various types of counseling and behavioral therapies can be used.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

One example of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It helps people identify and change harmful thought patterns that lead to drug use

Contingency Management

Another example is contingency management. It uses positive reinforcement to encourage sobriety.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can also be beneficial. It helps to repair and improve relationships that may have been damaged by addiction.

It also educates family members about addiction and how they can best support their loved ones in recovery.

Combining Methadone Treatment with Counseling and Behavioral Therapies

So, how does methadone help with addiction when used with counseling and behavioral therapies? Methadone helps to stabilize the person, reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

This allows the person to focus more fully on their counseling and therapy sessions.

Providing Skills and Strategies

Counseling and behavioral therapies provide the person with the skills and strategies they need to maintain their recovery in the long term.

They help the person to address any underlying issues that may have contributed to their addiction. They also help them to develop healthier ways of coping with stress and other triggers.

In this way, methadone treatment and counseling and behavioral therapies work together to provide a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. This combination of treatments can increase the chances of long-term recovery and help people lead healthier, happier lives.

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Looking for information on addiction treatment or just need to talk? Our experienced and compassionate team is here to guide and support you every step of the way.

How Does Methadone Help With Addiction: Seeking Help at Rockland Recovery

If you or someone you know is grappling with addiction, remember that assistance is within reach. At Rockland Recovery, we recognize the complexities of addiction and the bravery needed to seek help.

We provide a variety of treatment programs, including those centered on “how does methadone help with addiction?” They’re all designed to cater to each person’s unique needs.

Contact Rockland Recovery Treatment Centers

At Rockland Recovery, we’re committed to providing compassionate and effective addiction treatment services. We understand that reaching out for help is a significant step, and our team is here to guide you through every stage of your journey toward recovery.


Rockland Recovery is a leader in addiction treatment and mental health care. Our multidisciplinary team of top medical experts is committed to addressing the unique needs of each patient. Reach out to us anytime – we are available 24/7.

For additional information or to find addiction treatment and mental health services in your area, contact us directly or visit SAMSHA’s treatment locator. For immediate assistance, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or 855.732.4842 to speak to a Care Coordinator at Rockland Recovery.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.

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