The Truth about the Methadone Stigma

There is a stigma that surrounds Methadone that seems to just not go away. When people hear the word, Methadone, they picture unsavory indigents standing in masses outside of a clinic waiting for their daily dose. Others feel that people on Methadone are not really clean because they are still relying on something.

Methadone is still used today but a newer drug, Suboxone, has also entered the arena and now the pair together makes up the Harm Reduction Approach. Suboxone works very similar to Methadone but it is a prescription film that dissolves under the tongue, eliminating the routine trip to the Methadone Clinic.

If you were to drive by a Methadone clinic it would look like a standard doctor’s office and no lines or gatherings of low class people. If you stepped inside you would likely find a line of people patiently waiting to dose that is compromised of lawyers, nurses, teachers, and others that found themselves in a situation they were desperate to get out of.

Most Methadone clinics open very early and this is done so that people can make it to the clinic before they go to work. These clinics don’t allow people to just come and get Methadone, they have to be part of a much bigger program that consists of counseling, random drug screens, going to groups, and seeing the clinic doctor regularly.

Methadone allows those recovering from opiate addiction to leave the illegal dope seeking lifestyle that encourages crime, overdose, and health deterioration. Methadone is synthetic so it is much easier on the body and it is legal, making it a much better and healthier option. It is not as healthy as being completely clean but a lot better than abusing drugs.

Methadone makes it incredibly easier on the addicted person to refrain from drug use and lessens relapse. For most, quitting opiate drug use is too hard because of the involvement of the neurotransmitters in the brain that have been left with no way to cope with the insomnia, depression, anxiety, lack of energy, and a reduced pain threshold.

Methadone offers a reprieve from that kind of suffering while the brain recovers and the receptors return and strengthen. Methadone has been the answer to a lifelong struggle for many people. Methadone is a viable option today. Has your opinion about Methadone changed at all after reading this?

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  • Really informative post, thank's for sharing it. I admit that I'm one of the person's who feels like people using Methadone still have an addiction. I clearly agree that it's way better then something like heroin but I wondered if, after being on Methadon for some time, people will start stopping using that too? I also think that Methadon is quit strong as a substance, which is why I don't totally trust it, still being a strong drug. The thing I like is that Methadone clinics have a system on how to work and they know what they are doing. It's not my favorite method to get clean, I simply believe there are better options out there, but I don't think it's as bad as many people believe.
  • DTracy3:
    I agree about Methadone not being a great option but in retrospect, options are quite limited and none are really great. What I do like about the Methadone option is that patients so have to comply with clinic requirements in order to dose and to continue on as a patient. They have to see a dr regularly, drop random drug screens, see a therapist and attend meetings.
  • Thank you for shedding some light on methadone. I have been on it for a year it saved my life. If used properly as intended,as a tool. The point is to weind yourself off slowly untill your completely free, not to abuse or trade one for the other.
  • This post makes me sick to my stomach. I was on methadone for a few years and it was nothing more than legal heroin made and supplied to me by my very own government. It is a lie that methadone does not get you loaded and another huge lie is the idea that driving on methadone is safe somehow. I was on a very low dose (38 mg) and still, I had to make sure that I did not drive up to six hours after dosing everyday. Experiencing this has saddened me immensely to know that money is powerful enough to make someone high up in this decision making process give the "ok" to allow methadone users to drive legally. I could have driven if I had to, likely without ever getting in an accident. However driving took WAY too much effort and concentration and ultimately I was not at all sober feeling. I made a decision to not drive during certain hours which had a large negative impact on my life, but I felt that driving feeling like that, legal or not, was selfish, wrong, and had potential to destroy not only my own life but the innocent lives of others. I could go on and on for days on the negatives of methadone and suboxone. It is easy for doctors that have never had any personal experience with these drugs say they are a positive, good thing for addicts because they are usually focused on nothing more than the harm reduction standpoint. I feel the only way it is ethical to offer these nightmare drugs is to clearly explain to the addicted individual that if he or she starts one of these maintenance drugs he will quite likely need them forever and have a much harder time ever detoxing from these than the original problematic substance. It should also be clearly warned and stated that one's feelings disappear almost completely and a normal/healthy sex drive will never again be part of your life. When you offer these drugs to a younger person especially, or one who still has hopes and/ or dreams still for themself, you take those hopes and dreams and make sure they never become reality.

    P.S. Suboxone was even harder to drive on for me than the Methadone. They are only legal to drive on because it helps the companies make more money of course because of how important driving is to most patients. This industry has all the power and whoever made these decisions is the worst kind of person with no ethics at all, no soal.
  • Thanks for your insightful post, @jen644. The information you've shared will no doubt help educate others.
  • Id just like to comment on this in response to @jen644,
    While it is no doubt that methadone may be hard to understand to people that are not familiar with it, I also believe that the stigma is really a harsh thing to deal with for people that are. I prefer to educate people on MMT instead of telling them that their opinion is wrong, just as I am going to do here.
    First of all, Methadone is a drug used to substitute that of an opiate or heroin to help ease the discomfort and withdrawal someone experiences from quitting the illegal activity on the streets and the possibility of overdose. Although it is harsh on your body, it IS safe. Methadone is MEANT to be used to help relieve feeling of wd so that you can focus on getting your mind, emotions, habits, and many other things outside of the physical world on the right track. Methadone clinics offer nursing staff that give you your dose and answer any questions you have about the way things are going in your physical world and how you feel during the time your taking it. Clinics also have a Dr. who is familiar with opiate withdrawal that can clear up any concerns with existing conditions and methadone. Some clinics, like mine, even have a pharmacist so that you can talk about if the methadone will interact with any other medications you are on. Last but not least, the clinic requires you to see a counselor, who offers education among support and advice to aid you through changing your life.
    Second, like I mentioned, methadone is meant to be used temporarily, for you to get by with changing your lifestyle and get out of the using life. you usually start right around the 30 mark and increase as you please until your dose lasts you up to 18-24 hours. This keeps withdrawal time and all the awful symptoms that come with it very acute. When you've changed your life in the mental and emotional world and your able to say you want off of the methadone, with the aid of the nursing staff you will begin to taper down. YES, it is well known that people abuse this, and increase their dose to heavy levels to get high. And THAT is what adds to the stigma of methadone clinics being another place to get high. It is not for some of us.
    Third, methadone clinics mostly administer the methadone in a liquid form, which gets absorbed into the body from the stomach. With this being said, everyone may react to methadone differently depending on how your body metabolizes it!! It will matter if you have eaten, had anything to drink, if you have the flu, if you have diabetes, etc. Everyone's body is different! It IS legal to drive on methadone because people who are on MMT (those doing it for the right reasons) will not feel any "high" effects, they will feel like a normal person, who drives to work or school, who doesn't need to experience any withdrawal causing their physical life to collapse. While you may have had issues with feeling unable to drive and sickness from the methadone itself, other people especially everyone does not experience this. I have been on MMT since Dec. 12th, 2016, and if it weren't for the methadone and the support I got from my clinic Id have killed myself using. I work full time, I have no record, I kicked heroin on my own, I own my house, I have good relationships in my life, I have my drivers license and experience no drowsiness while operating my motor vehicle, and I am tapering down (currently on 64mgs) with the support of my medical staff. Ill be the first to admit that I do not openly share with people that I go to a methadone program because of people being so blind with stigma. My husband is the only person who knows where i am by noon once a week now. Its okay to use methadone to pull your life back together and follow the guidelines. As far as im concerned, Ive been clean for 16 months and counting. And im a normal person just like you and everyone else. Before advertising that MMT is such a horrible thing, remember that we all have our own journeys and individualities. Its not fair to us when people add to the stigma.
    Sincerely, someone who is a success story with MMT, notsoldinstores
  • @notsoldinstores thank you so much for sharing that and part of your story. it's great that you are clean 16 months and of course, off heroin. i agree that methadone can work to help people get free from heroin, but as we all know, if they want to get high, they will (be it methadone or another drug) but it CAN and DOES work for those who use it as prescribed AND take advantage of the medical and psychological help...

    i think seeing a counselor is NECESSARY... to deal with learning how to navigate life clean, deal with any underlying issues, learn coping skills, conflict resolution skills, deal with mental illness if need be, and so on.... and having some sort of support network..

    recovery is holistic... and when someone can address mind, body, spirit, the chances of recovery are greater... i mean long-lasting abstinence and a decent quality of life...

    thanks for sharing
  • Hey, @notsoldinstores... Great post full of great information. Thanks for sharing with us. And congrats to you on being free from heroin. That's awesome, my friend!
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