View from a couple on Methadone Maintenance Treatment
This post was written for www.acceptandadapt.com who had approached us to write in their amazing Ezine. This was published in the September issue. The link for the best and worst of methadone!
The debate continues on about whether or not methadone is a good tool in recovery or if it is just a hindrance. we will share with you the pros and cons of methadone from our perspective as a couple who are currently on methadone in Ontario, Canada.
As opiate addicts looking for a way out of the lifestyle after *18 years of heavy drug abuse for myself and *24 years for Stixx, and having tried other ways to succeed, methadone made sense to us. There are many people who have had both positive and negative experiences, as people would with any other treatment form. There is no wrong way in recovery, it either works for you or it doesn't. I believe people are entitled to their views, but pushing the form of treatment that worked for them on others is not right. If abstinence programs worked for everyone, there wouldn't be such a problem.If it worked for you great, but if it doesn't work for your friend, don't be negative, we are all in some form of recovery thats all that matters.
When I first began mmt I didnt really know what methadone was other than an orange drink that took away your sickness. I was so naive, I had only known two people in the past who were on methadone but it wasn't something that I had really spoke about with them nor considered for myself at the time. I remember one girl passing out at the cash register in a hardware store while looking for money in her purse, the cashier looked at me and I at her. so I thought that was what it did, to each their own I thought! I didn't realize that it would really help save my life a few years later.
Stixx knew what it was but he wasn't interested in it at all, as it was juice and something you drank, not interesting to a person using needles! He had started MMT a few months before me, at this point I didn't know him. We started seeing each other a year into our recovery and have been going strong since. Our heads are in the same place regarding recovery, so it works!
The stigma attached to methadone is unbelievable, if used as a bridge for those with severe addictions, mental health issues, disease, years of drug abuse and having tried many different ways to be rid of the lifestyle addiction places you in, it can work.
We have seen many people in the clinic who have only been addicted to opiates for a short time and have never tried other options at kicking the habit, addiction hasn't even yet ruined their life and these people should really consider other treatment forms first! Some they are their soley to get it as a crutch between their next high, it is difficult for doctors to screen people and sort out who has or hasn't a severe addiction, people lie as they do at any doctors office just to get what they want.
You must have a strong desire to succeed in treatment and methadone should be used in conjunction with some form of counselling/therapy to help you identify underlying issues that could cause you to slide back into addiction.
Methadone is the choice of those seeking treatment, as it is with someone going to an in-patient facility or choosing to go cold turkey, nothing is pushed on them, if they feel that's the treatment for them then that is their choice. Anyone who is looking into treatment should thoroughly research their options, that being said here are the pro's and con's of methadone maintenace treatment:
- Allows you to focus on cleaning up your life right now, such as getting off the streets, getting to work, getting/keeping your kids, etc
- Allows you to begin living without worry of withdrawals until you feel as though you are strong enough to begin a taper, you are not rushed to taper.
- You can break the habits that come with addiction.
- Improves your health and well-being all around
- Lowers criminal activity associated with feeding your habit.
- Many times addictions and mental health issues go hand in hand, methadone allows you to focus on those issues before having to deal with the physical withdrawals of addiction.Without doing that your chances of relapsing and possibly falling deeper into despair are much higher.
- Methadone has been used for 45 years, effectively and there are many studies that show this.
- Don't have to wake up to that sick feeling everyday
- Don't have to go hunting for pills everyday,finding money,finding a place to do the drugs, etc.(Wheeling and dealing!)
- Allows you to find a stable dose, unlike being on fentanyl, morphine, etc., where you need to continually increase dose to feel same effect
- You drink methadone once a day, rather than using needles which could possibly be contaminated, thus contracting diseases such as Hep 'C', HIV, Etc. You no longer have to worry about dangerous infections from abcesses.
- Methadone is much more preferrable than trying to quit, relapsing, trying to quit and so on.Each time this happens your chances of overdosing are high. On methadone you no longer have to worry about that and come off slowly while leading a normal life.
- Methadone stabilizes the brain chemistry that has been destroyed during drug abuse.
- Methadone eases the worry of not knowing exactly what is in the drugs you are buying, as methadone is dispensed from a certified pharmacy.
- You do not get high and are able to function normally without looking like a drug addict.
- You can hold down a job, own a home and raise a family, which was impossible for some to do while in the depth of addiction.
- Allows you to stay in treatment longer and receive proper care.
- The cost is much cheaper than what your addiction may have cost you
- Methadone does not cause a euphoric rush
- Methadone is a great harm reduction tool
- The stigma that surrounds methadone is sometimes a barrier to receiving treatment.
- Side effects such as sweating, weight gain, libido loss, etc (Some side effects will not occur if your dose is fairly low, higher doses increase chance of some of these side effects, but not in all cases)
- Some of these side effects can really affect your relationship and cause extra problems you don't need while in recovery
- Overdose can happen if you take other pills in combination with methadone, or take more than you are prescribed. This happens usually in the beginning of treatment when you still haven't reached a stable dose to keep you drug free (We continued using until we reached that level, but overdose was possible each time we took pills and due to the "Blocking effect" (antagonist) methadone has. You take more pills until you feel them. This is dangerous!
- The possibility of losing employment if screened for drugs, as some people consider methadone to be illegal and illicit. There is much stigma in being employed as a methadone patient
- You are forever going to the clinic until you can receive carries or take-homes
- You have to make arrangements to go out of town. So you are kind of limited as to where and what you can do I.e camping, job related travel, Etc. If you do not have carries and have to dose daily, you are unable to go, unless your clinic/pharmacy is lenient and allows you to carry a day or two.
- Transportation costs/finding ways to get your dose for some people living in rural areas or if your town does not allow methadone clinics/pharmacies.
- Having to plan your life around the methadone clinic
Despite the drawbacks of methadone, it is better than the lifestyle of addiction and the pros far outweigh the cons. Again, always research a treatment option rather than jumping straight into it.If you are unsure if this treatment is for you then please read our article, "Who should or shouldn't take methadone" it can be helpful in seeing if methadone is a choice for you. We hope this has been helpful and we hope it helps at least one person take a positive step in the right direction.
*(these years are not exact, it is hard counting back the exact amount of time, I think we lost a couple years somewhere, Stixx is more like 27 and mine is more like 19.5 or 20 LOL, it matters more to us the length of time we have been clean!)
Your Friends in the maze,
Chixx & Stixx