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Methadone-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program

The MAT Program at Haven New England

Because methadone is a proven medication for assisting the detox and recovery of patients with a history of opioid abuse, Haven New England offers a residential treatment program with methadone for up to 30 days. Residential drug treatment with methadone at Haven New England includes detox and also establishes patients with the therapy they need to grapple with their addiction personally. Learn how methadone-assisted treatment for opioid abuse works and whether you might be a candidate for our program.

What is Methadone-Assisted Treatment?

Methadone, a medication prescribed for opioid use disorders, helps people who are dependent on opiates like heroin to reduce or quit their substance use. For several decades, it has been shown effective for treating people addicted to heroin, narcotics, pain medicines, and more. As prescribed, methadone can be highly effective and safe as it returns people to satisfying lives without heroin, pain killers, and other opiates

While the drug is effective on its own for changing how people respond to pain and lessening the painful experience of withdrawal, there is more room for recovery when this medication is assisted. In fact, patients addicted to heroin or opiates have the best results from matching methadone with other treatments like counseling and social support. 

What is Methadone Treatment?

In order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms that can cause people to revert to relapse, methadone was designed to alter the brain’s response to pain while also blocking the euphoria and good feeling that come from the use of opiates like heroin. With the combination of inhibiting the opiate “high” and keeping patients from experiencing extreme pain, methadone proves useful.

Methadone comes in many forms with different dosages. Whether you take it in a pill, liquid, or wafer form, the relief from pain from a single dose of methadone can last four to eight hours. Because the goal of medication-assisted treatment with methadone is eventually to release patients from substance use, they are best prescribed as part of a full treatment plan which includes addiction specialists, group participation, talk therapy, and more. 

What Happens in Methadone-Assisted Treatment?

Not everyone is a candidate for methadone-assisted treatment, and they must receive the medication to treat their opioid addiction from a specializing doctor. The process is closely monitored given the risks that the medication presents to the addicted patient. Under the doctor’s supervision, the patient will be prescribed dosages until they reach a period of stability and progress based on a foundation of compliance with the medication, taking it daily and as prescribed.

Everyone’s experience of methadone-assisted treatment varies because of their unique reactions to medications, and the amount of time that a person stays in treatment will vary widely on an individual basis. According to authorities, methadone treatment works well in the long term with the minimum recommended treatment time at 12 months. Though, many patients rely on methadone for years to help with their opiate addiction and related withdrawal symptoms. 

When the patient feels that they are prepared to stop treatment with methadone, the process is also gradual and individually determined. Under the supervision of a doctor, they gradually reduce the dose to prevent withdrawal symptoms and ensure a safe way to return to life without methadone. This transition is often supported by a drug treatment facility or addiction recovery clinic and connected with social services to facilitate a full, normal life afterward.

methadone is considered and essential for of treatment for its ability to halt withdrawal symptoms and blocks cravings for heroin and opioids

Benefits of Methadone-Assisted Treatment

For those who require it, methadone manages severe pain and can provide a basis for the patient to recover in other areas of life, especially when milder forms of medication prove ineffective for treating or managing their addiction. Methadone, as a synthetic opioid, is well-recognized for its ability to halt withdrawal symptoms in individuals who are addicted to heroin and opioids. 

Because methadone blocks cravings for opioids and mitigates withdrawal symptoms daily, it is often considered an essential form of treatment. Research backs this position since methadone helps to statistically reduce consequences of addition and problematic behaviors:

  • Methadone is proven to reduce injection drug use.
  • Methadone reduces HIV transmission from drug use.
  • Methadone prevents opioid-related deaths.
  • Methadone cuts criminal activity related to drug use.

While the medication itself is an opioid compound, its use as a treatment form for addiction shows that improvements can be made under the direction of a doctor. Using methadone as a treatment stays safe and effective because the doses are controlled by a physician and used only for therapeutic value given that any states of euphoria are blocked by the drug.

In addition to this, assisted treatment is safer for patients to take than it is for them to take illegal drugs and engage themselves in the danger of acquiring and abusing them. Then, since methadone is taken as a pill, liquid, or wafer, there is no risk of the transmission of HIV through needles. And, unlike other opioid dependence, methadone does not create a tendency for aggressive behavior that leads to dangers and injury as is the case with drugs like heroin. 

Side Effects of Methadone-Assisted Treatment

Though methadone is prescribed by a supervising doctor in a safe treatment setting, the drug does have certain risks and side effects. Because it is a synthetic opiate, methadone has the potential to become addictive. It also carries a list of potential side effects that patients can experience even at low, regular doses:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Possible weight gain
  • Unexplained stomach pain
  • Severe dry mouth
  • Painful, sore tongue
  • Skin flushing
  • Problems with urination
  • Changes in mood
  • Altered vision
  • Increased sleeplessness

Despite these side effects, the greatest potential concern is that it can form a habit and dependency. For this reason, the medication is highly and strictly regulated so that the dose of methadone and its administration remains purely for the sake of medically supervised therapy rather than for getting high. Because opioid addictions already present a high risk for dependency, there are real dangers with methadone abuse by patients who have had historical issues with such substances. 

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that methadone can’t create the same kind of euphoric effects that patients may have experienced with heroin or morphine. Rather, it is designed to do the opposite, and any pleasurable sensation received from using opiates is blocked by the drug while being treated with methadone. 

Finally, though it is a synthetic opiate, it does contain the possibility of overdose when the medication is abused by those with substance abuse disorders. If a person takes too much of the medication, takes it without a prescription from a doctor, or uses their prescribed medicine not as prescribed, symptoms of an overdose may present:

  • Pupils that are constricted
  • Discolored fingernails, toenails, and fingertips
  • Persistent dizziness and disorientation
  • Increased heart rate and hypertension
  • Lost consciousness
  • Nausea, vomiting, and poisoning
  • Potentially fatal difficulty breathing

If you choose to undergo methadone treatment for your substance use (or that of a loved one), ensure that you are aware of the risks of the drug and your responsibility to use doses only as prescribed with complete honesty about its effects in the course of your treatment. 

Residential Methadone Treatment

In recovery from an addiction to heroin or another opiate, methadone medication can mitigate your cravings and physical symptoms of withdrawal seen in abstinence. While abstinence can work for some addictions and substances, others require the support of medication. One of the best ways to introduce a therapeutic medication like methadone is through a residential treatment program that begins with detox. 

Detox with Methadone

Each addiction and each person is unique to the extent that treatment must be catered to the individual for the best chance at recovery and for the most effective treatment outcomes. Withdrawal symptoms are one of the biggest reasons that drugs like heroin make it difficult for users to quit—even if they want to—because of the pain and suffering caused by the body’s reaction to the absence of the drug.

Through up to 30 day stays at Haven New England, patients are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure that they are comfortable during the first, most critical part of recovery: medically supervised detox. During this time, patients can be treated with methadone at a personalized dose to mitigate pain and block euphoria so that they can more easily benefit from other forms of therapy available at our center. 

Beginning with an initial evaluation, medical and substance abuse specialists will complete a history and profile so that the best treatment plan can be formed to benefit the recovering patient. Here, they discover the severity of the addiction and determine at what stage of withdrawal they may be in (if at all). With a customized detox plan for opioid use, the staff at facilities like Haven New England will guide the patient through the withdrawal process to reestablish them as healthy patients seeking a better life free of pain from the absence of the opioid in question. 

Some patients will experience symptoms of withdrawal within a few hours, if their condition is advanced, and others may take several days to present the concerning symptoms of opioid withdrawal that required methadone-assisted treatment: 

  • Consistent aching of muscles
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Excessive sweating and eye-tearing
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, and sickness
  • Blurry or distorted vision
  • Rapid heartbeat and tension
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal like this can last several weeks, but the use of methadone helps to limit them in cases where it is needed. Depending on your preferences and the expertise of staff, Haven New England provides a supported, safe, and comfortable recovery experience through supervised detox. If you choose, your detox can include methadone treatment as well as therapy sessions to assist with discovering the causes of addiction in your life and to facilitate focus on healing. 

Referral to Outpatient Methadone Maintenance

Though Haven New England does not offer outpatient treatment with methadone, assisted detox and residential recovery can end with a referral to a provider of methadone treatment maintenance. This means that after the successful completion of a 30 day stay, you can be connected to a methadone provider to help you maintain the sense of stability and comfort you have achieved with us. 

Are You a Candidate for Methadone-Assisted Treatment?

Methadone is a serious medication that should only be used under experienced medical supervision from a prescribing doctor. Using methadone as part of a detox program, residential treatment course, or on an outpatient basis is justified when the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids are severe and when the addiction is advanced. 

If you have struggled with heroin or opioids in the past and want to establish a new life full of meaning without drugs, methadone can be a way to mitigate the symptoms of opioid withdrawal while blocking the “high” caused by opiates so you can reduce the chance of relapsing. When given as part of a residential program with supportive staff and available therapy, methadone can be even more effective at putting you onto the road to recovery, ending with a referral to an outpatient provider for continued maintenance of sobriety. 

Recover at Haven New England

Haven New England supervises detox and residential treatment with methadone through an expertly trained staff of physicians, therapists, nurses, and addiction specialists. Treating patients struggling with opioid addiction across the nation, Haven New England is committed to patients and uses only evidence-based practices for the treatment of addiction and substance use disorders. 

Patients can begin the journey to sober living more comfortably through our methadone-assisted treatment program and a residential stay where they will cultivate resilience and dispense with illegal opioids. Starting your recovery with a safe and secure center to detox, learn, and heal will set you up for more success with finally cutting down and quitting heroin or other opiates. 

Reach out for help from Haven New England to learn more about our assisted treatment programs in Massachusetts. 

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