Information for Overcoming Addiction

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) right for me?

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is one of the most researched treatment approaches to ensure its safety and efficacy for all types of individuals. The most common medications used in MAT include methadone, buprenorphine and Suboxone.

MAT may be the right choice for you if:

  • You are an adult 18 years or older who has been dependent on painkillers or heroin for more than a year
  • Your opioid use has resulted in social consequences, affecting your work, family and social obligations
  • Previous attempts at quitting have been unsuccessful
  • You are combining one or more substances, putting your health at further risk
  • You have engaged in criminal activity to continue using
  • You use opiates intravenously which puts you at high risk for AIDS, HIV, STDs and Hepatitis C

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) with methadone or buprenorphine trading one addiction for another?

No. Methadone and buprenorphine are FDA approved, highly studied and regulated medications used to help individuals recover from opioid addiction. Methadone and buprenorphine acts as a stabilizer in the body rather than a narcotic that is used for its euphoric effects. When taken as prescribed, methadone and buprenorphine help patients function physically, emotionally and intellectually without impairment. The medications do not produce mood swings, drowsiness or narcotic effects. Patients on medication-assisted maintenance can drive, go to work, return to their families and lead normal lives. Medication-Assisted Treatment is not an addiction, it is a physical dependence that is required to maintain physical stability. By contrast, painkillers and heroin, destabilize the individual and lead them to many high risk behaviors that have severe consequences.

Is methadone safe to take for pregnant women?

Methadone does not impair the child’s developmental or cognitive functioning when taken during pregnancy. Years of studies have shown that there is no lasting harm to the child from exposure to methadone during pregnancy and has been proven to reduce the risk of illness or death in both the mother and child.

What are the possible side effects of methadone?

Overall, studies over decades across millions of patients show that patients improve physical health compared to their health status prior to taking methadone. If a patient had prior medical conditions, poor nutrition or poor dental care, patients may become aware of these symptoms as their body stabilizes on methadone. Patients can then properly address pre-existing conditions and improve healthcare, nutrition and healthy wellness habits.

What is the right length of treatment for methadone?

Studies indicate that the greater the length in treatment, the more positive the results for the patient. Generally, less than 90 days in treatment is of limited effectiveness.  A minimum amount of time in treatment is 12 months with increasing positive results typically occurring at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year milestones. However, the exact duration of treatment is determined by the individual in conversation with the physician so there is no predetermined length of treatment.

Is methadone addictive?

Addiction and physical dependence are two different characteristics. Addiction is compulsive use of a drug despite negative consequences. Methadone maintenance is not an addiction, it is a physical dependence that is required to maintain physical stability. Similar to a diabetic patient that is dependent on insulin, methadone does not produce the addictive behaviors of compulsion where cravings and withdrawal symptoms lead to constant drug use.

Will methadone impair my ability to drive or operate machinery?

No. Methadone, when used as prescribed, does not impair in any way the patient’s ability to drive or operate machinery. Research studies indicate that patients on methadone had normal functioning including the ability to pay close attention, reaction time, eye-hand coordination, and accurate responses in emergency situations.