The recent rise in opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In 2015 alone, approximately 591,000 people suffered from a heroin addiction, specifically. Besides the size of this number, perhaps a worse characteristic of the trend is its ubiquity among the next generation. Of those 591,000 individuals, 6,000 were teenagers and 155,000 were young adults.
And beyond their addiction’s effects on family, friends and society, these addicts are succumbing to these substances at alarming rates. Also in 2015, 52,404 lethal drug overdoses were reported. This makes drug overdose the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that addicts and society as a whole are desperate for treatment options. Thankfully, they do exist. But opioid addiction is incredibly hard to kick. In fact, abstinence-based, non-medical treatments (for opioids specifically) only have a 5% to 10% success rate. These low percentages reflect a constant struggle for addicts to give up their substances, detox and begin treatment only to relapse.
There are, fortunately, other treatment options. Beginning in the 1970s, methadone treatments have proved to be perhaps the most effective treatment option for those addicted to opioids. Methadone, a long-acting opioid, acts as substitution therapy, meaning it enables the addict to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms via another opiate.
From a scientific standpoint, methadone fills the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin and prescription painkillers. Because of this ability, methadone prevents those taking it from experiencing opioid withdrawal. Methadone is typically obtained from methadone centers or methadone clinics daily for some users.
According to American Addiction Centers’ Pros and Cons of Methadone, there are a number of benefits to medically assisted methadone therapy. The biggest of them are an overall improvement in quality of life, better chance at long-term recovery, and a reduction in criminal activity.
- Improvement in Quality of Life
Most noticeable of methadone benefits is that those participating in medically assisted methadone treatment simply enjoy an improved quality of life. While many opioid addicts spend their days working tirelessly to obtain their substances, those using methadone can focus on other aspects of life, like finding a job and spending time with their families. Parents addicted to opioids can present especially disastrous consequences for their children. By not having the distraction of withdrawal symptoms, addicts can attend to these very neglected areas of their lives.
- Better Chance of Long-Term Recovery
Perhaps most important for the addict themselves is the hope methadone gives for long-term recovery. By reducing or eliminating the need to deal with continuous cravings and withdrawal symptoms, methadone can stabilize the addict emotionally. This, in turn, allows them to begin to unravel their addiction, diving into the root issue of their opioid use. Besides being able to better address their issues, addicts on methadone may also be able to curb other concurrent addictions. A study from the University of New Mexico Hospital, for example, found that people who take methadone are often able to also reduce their use of alcohol and other drugs.
- Reduction in Criminal Activity
Lastly, participating in a methadone treatment program can also markedly reduce criminal activity in addicts. The high cost for opioids can often lead individuals to steal, rob and prostitute themselves in order to get the money they need for the drugs. This type of illegal activity can not only put the addicts in potentially life-threatening situations, but also has significant legal consequences in many cases. Participating in an opioid treatment program may help an addict to receive a reduced sentence if they are facing drug-related charges. Judges are often more lenient when they see proof of participation in a proven program at a methadone center.
The opioid epidemic has reached the level of a full crisis in the United States today. While some treatment options carry a high risk of relapse and failure, methadone, as obtained from a methadone center, can offer the addict hope at a better quality of life, improved chances of long-term treatment success and reduced criminal activity. As such, methadone treatment at a methadone center, for example, is a great option for addicts looking toward recovery. Good luck to those individuals.