Methadone to Abstinence Programs

The urban myths that surround methadone and its use in the treatment of heroin addicts are many and varied. Drug use itself has a whirlwind of rumours which manifest it in its wake, both in regards to the drug and the individual using it. Is this because honesty amongst addicts is a lost principle? Is it fear? Is it because the ego drives the drug user to be an expert on everything including the favourite subject of pharmacology? Or are the smoke and mirrors just one last ditch attempt to control reality?

Whatever the answer, methadone to abstinence programs is a practical, simple and proven way to support heroin addicts to get clean. Heroin addicts often tread a long road to recovery and this is one of the best ways to support them to become ready to live life without drugs. Our understanding of addiction, tells that this rarely happens overnight and that there will be peaks and troughs along the way.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a man-made opiate which is a very useful medication for the treatment of heroin addicts. It was first synthesised in 1939 by German scientists at IG Farben, a large pharmaceutical company and it is alleged that its development was part of Hitler’s plan to be independent of other countries.

The idea was that Germany would have access to pain relief for their hospitals without having to buy opium. During the 1960’s and 1970’s as the use of heroin spread, methadone started to be used to try and stabilise addicts and lessen their chances of catching blood-borne diseases. Methadone is still one of the most useful drugs in harm reduction.

Myths and Facts

Heroin addicts think that if they take methadone that they will be addicted for life. However, with the right medical supervision and continued support to optimise personnel motivation, there is no reason why this should be the case. By planning your treatment with an addictions expert, you can get really clear about the expectations you have and how these are to be fulfilled.

Many heroin addicts fear that methadone will rot their teeth, however, with the right oral care there is no reason why this will happen just because of Methadone. One of the most useful things that you can do is brush your teeth BEFORE taking your dose to reduce the harmful effects. Drug users are notorious for having poor personal and dental hygiene, this is often what sets them up for decaying teeth rather than the use of methadone.

Heroin addicts often see methadone as dangerous but it is actually a much safer drug than heroin. It does not produce the same sort of high and prevents the rush many are seeking. The half-life of methadone is another factor that makes it attractive as a drug replacement therapy. Whether as the effects of heroin last only a few hours, methadone can be effective for between 24 and 38 hours. This means that the client, once titrated onto the right dose, only needs to use it once a day.

Additionally, with the right support and potentially a period on the drug, there is no reason why you cannot detox safely with minimal discomfort. These days the withdrawal is cushioned by other drugs in the final phases and done as gently as possible.

What does a methadone to abstinence program look like?

A well-rounded methadone to abstinence program has clear goals which are flexible depending on the needs of the client. These should cover short-term, mid-term and long-term aims. The ultimate long-term aim is of course to live a drug-free and happy life.

Initial harm reduction goals

Short term goals for the initial part of the methadone to abstinence program are in keeping with a harm reduction approach and generally, the following is applicable:

  • Titrating the client onto the right dose of methadone to control opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduce the drug-related risk behaviours
  • A decrease in high-risk behaviour associated with the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Less participation in criminal activity.

The mid-term goals

After you have been titrated onto a dose that you feel comfortable on the next set of goals is about moving away from the drug scene and back into the life scene. These include things like:

  • Improvement in the physical and mental health
  • Improvement in the social function, participation in family life, employment and education
  • The fostering of a healthy lifestyle
  • A full range of services must be available to cope with the changing needs of the client
  • Participation and retention in the treatment program
  • Weekly counselling

As people see their lives improving they become more hopeful that further change is possible. They are able to participate in the normal routines and rhythms of life because they are no longer entirely focused on finding and using heroin. You start to see things in life to get clean for.

This means clients have time to work on things that build their self-esteem and self-worth making the whole idea of recovery more tangible. As life gets better, it is less of a jump to becoming abstinent, it becomes the logical next step.

Methadone to abstinence program in Melbourne

The Hader Clinic in Melbourne offers a methadone to abstinence program and fully supports the client until they are ready to commit to stopping. This can be done entirely as an outpatient or as an outpatientan outpatient followed by a stay in residential rehab during the final stage of detoxification.

Call one of our experts to see how we can help today!