How to Safely Use Methadone for Opioid Addiction Rehabilitation

What is methadone?

Methadone is one of the medications used for treating addiction to heroin and narcotic pain medicines. For over 50 years, methadone has helped millions of people recover from opioid drug addiction. Methadone is the medication with the longest history of use for opioid use disorder treatment, having been used since 1947.

Medication-assisted treatment with the use of methadone-based therapy shows significant improvements for a patient: better health, stable employment or education, better relationships with family and friends, and a return to feeling good about themselves again. If that sounds like what you want, then you are on the road to recovery.

Doses of methadone can be adjusted to meet the tolerance levels of any patient with opioid use disorder. When taken as prescribed, methadone is safe and effective.

How does methadone work?

When used as part of an opioid treatment program, methadone alleviates the symptoms of withdrawal and blocks the effects of opiates. Methadone acts as a stabilizer in the body so patients have the ability to withdraw from illicit opioids and receive the proper medical services and counseling support that they require.

Methadone works in these ways:

  1. The proper dose of methadone allows patients to lead a normal life without making them feel “high” or “drugged.”
  2. Methadone has a gradual, long-lasting effect of 24-hours or more, which mitigates any craving for other opioid drugs.
  3. Methadone is taken orally once per day, so there is no need for injection needles and their risk of disease like hepatitis or HIV.

When taken as prescribed by a licensed healthcare professional, methadone helps patients function physically, emotionally and intellectually without impairment. Painkillers and heroin destabilize an individual and lead them to many risky behaviors; by contrast, methadone does not produce mood swings, drowsiness or narcotic effects.

Methadone is not only effective in reducing opioid use, but it also reduces opioid use-associated transmission of infectious disease and crime.

Methadone helps individuals recover from their addiction and reclaim their lives. Many people who have overcome opioid use disorder credit methadone with feeling “normal” again. It’s not a cure for addiction, however, and should be used as a component of a recovery program that includes counseling and life improvement services.

Also, methadone is a treatment only for opioid drug addiction. Using other drugs like alcohol, cocaine, or marijuana will defeat your recovery.

How is methadone prescribed?

Patients taking methadone for addiction receive their medication orders from specialized addiction doctors at accredited programs called Opioid Treatment Programs (OTP). At the beginning of their treatment plan, a patient visits the OTP daily to visit the pharmacy and receive their medication. After a period of demonstrated responsibility and stability, patients may be given the privilege to take the medication at home between periodic program checkups.

How long does methadone treatment last?

The length of methadone maintenance treatment differs for everyone. The longer a patient stays in treatment, the greater chance he or she has for success.

Some patients willingly take methadone for the rest of their life. Others prefer to become completely medication free after they get their life back on track, which does take time.

Patients should discuss their intentions with the clinical staff so a plan of gradual methadone reduction can be made. Patients should never alter their dose or completely stop taking methadone on their own as withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings may arise leading to relapse.

How safe is methadone?

Since its creation more than 70 years ago, scientific research proves that methadone is as safe as any other medication prescribed by doctors. Methadone taken under a doctor’s orders does not cause harm to body organs nor does it alter your ability to clearly think and function.

There are two simple steps in order for methadone to be safely used:

  1. Take methadone exactly as prescribed by a licensed physician. To be safe, patients must take only the dose prescribed at the time prescribed.
  2. Share your complete medical history with the prescribing doctor. People receiving methadone need to provide healthcare professionals a list of every medicine, supplement and vitamin they are taking as they may have adverse interactions with methadone.

What are the most common side effects of methadone?

Some people may experience minor side effects, like sweating or constipation, when they start treatment. Over the course of a few days, these reactions typically stop or become less noticeable. A slight change in the dose of methadone may help these reactions to subside.

Millions of people have used and continue to use methadone as a treatment medication for opiate addiction. The large majority of patients in methadone maintenance treatment report the side effects as mild and bearable, and the hundred of thousands of people that take methadone on a daily basis is a testament to how well the people tolerate the medication.

For More Information on Methadone

If you think methadone treatment would be a good solution for your rehabilitation, contact a New Season treatment provider at 1-877-284-7074 or send an email to

It may also be helpful to talk to other people who have positively turned their life around as a result of methadone maintenance treatment.

The Benefits of Methadone

When used properly, methadone helps individuals who struggle with heroin or prescription painkiller addiction to function normally in daily activities, abstain from taking illicit opioid drugs and manage their withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

When Taking Methadone…

  • Avoid consuming alcohol
  • Take only the recommended dose, as prescribed by your doctor
  • Store the medication at room temperature
  • Keep medication away from light sources

Online Resources for Methadone Treatment

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

A U.S. federal-government research institute whose mission is to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

A branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services charged with improving the quality and availability of treatment and rehabilitative services in order to reduce illness, death, disability, and the cost to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illnesses.