Addiction Help or Methadone? Yes, the Choice is Yours.
Some people don’t want addiction help, and some people do. Yesterday I wrote a blog about methadone. I received numerous comments from people who are on methadone for pain, or because they were addicted to heroin and wanted to overcome that addiction, but when drug rehab and other addiction help treatment didn’t work for them, they turned to methadone.
I don’t see that anyone would have a problem with someone in chronic pain using methadone because they just can’t function without it. I certainly don’t.
However, there are a few things I would like to say to those who are using it to overcome heroin addiction, or addiction to other opiates.
- Everyone who commented felt strongly that methadone was not a replacement for heroin. Okay, so why is it called Methadone Replacement Therapy – MRT? Because that’s exactly what it is. Methadone replaces the heroin. If you search “replacement for heroin” on the Internet, methadone is what you will find. So please tell me what would be a better description.
- One commenter said that methadone is used only for those who have not been successful with drug rehab or other addiction help. That may be the case for those who are on methadone more or less permanently, but it is not the case for people who are taking methadone as a step towards full recovery – i.e. no longer dependent on or addicted to any drug.
- After receiving the comments, I called several people connected to rehab and detox facilities to do an informal survey. What I learned from that survey was that between 40% and 60% of the people who want to get off methadone are also taking benzodiazepines. Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzo. Whether they get it from a methadone clinic or not doesn’t seem relevant. Nor does the fact that most, not all, methadone deaths happen when methadone is combined with other drugs – or alcohol. Perhaps those people who are taking methadone think they’re not going to be taking any other drugs so there is no risk. Well, many of them may not take other street drugs but there’s obviously a good chance – about a 50% chance, according to my little survey – that they have been, or will be, prescribed another drug by their doctor. What happens to the risk factor then?
- I have worked with many former heroin addicts. In fact, I employ and work with several currently. All of them have been completely drug free for over five years. I also have two kids who received addiction help and are now drug free. I have a son-in-law who was a heroin addict and is now drug free – he kicked cold turkey. And I have a friend who edits for me – she was a heroin addict and also kicked cold turkey, with no addiction help, two decades ago. It can and has been done by thousands of people. It is not an incurable disease.
- One commenter mentioned that methadone was not harder to get off of than heroin and said it just takes longer. I would say that if someone is experiencing pain and discomfort for a longer period of time that you could describe that as ‘harder’. The longer the withdrawal process, the less likely you will have success. Most people cannot withdraw by themselves; in fact I have seen failure rates in the 90% range – which is why some people do better when they also have medically assisted drug detox. You use some drugs for a brief period of time, but then you’re off them altogether.
- I have yet to see any scientific proof that former heroin addicts cannot produce enough endorphins and therefore need methadone. I have also not heard of anyone getting their endorphin levels tested prior to being put on methadone replacement therapy. So, where is the proof that endorphin deficiency is the source of the problem? Where is the proof that the right addiction help couldn’t work? If you have real data on this, I would appreciate receiving it.
I was never addicted to heroin so I cannot feel what you feel. But the fact is, with enough persistence, people can get off heroin and not need methadone. People can live drug free and none of you should have a problem with that. You may have chosen the methadone path, but addiction help is possible – which is why I do what I do.
If you don’t want addiction help, if you would prefer to stay on methadone, then you certainly don’t need anyone’s permission to do so. But if you think it would be a good idea to live drug free, by all means look for other alternatives. I don’t know how many thousands of people have been successful finding the addiction help they need to overcome heroin without having to replace it – yes, that’s what it is – with methadone, but I do know that, for most, it is possible. Call me if you would like to look into it. 855-889-0555. That’s Addiction Help Services.