Methadone Treatment and Rehab

Methadone was initially developed in the 1940s as a painkiller for the treatment of long-lasting or chronic pain. In recent years, the drug has become a form of medication for the treatment of opioid use disorders such as addiction. Methadone is often used to treat addiction to oxycodone, heroin, morphine and hydrocodone.

Opioids can be described as synthetic compounds with the ability to simulate the effects of pain medicines or opiates that are extracted from the opium plant/poppy flower. Abusing such substances – be they naturally derived or synthetic – can eventually lead to substance dependence. In order to recover from such physical dependence, methadone can be prescribed to help addicts get past the more painful and dangerous parts of the opioid withdrawal process. Methadone is often available in tablet form or as an injectable liquid.

Because methadone itself is an opioid, it’s possible to develop a very intense form of substance dependence if the drug is irresponsibly abused. Also, if methadone is being used to treat your addiction to another opiate, it’s possible in such a scenario to develop a different addiction to the methadone treatment. This is why the use of methadone for the treatment of addictions is strictly regulated.

When abused, methadone can cause you to experience a pleasurable ‘high’. As it’s a prescribed medication for addiction, users often switch to it as a substance for abuse, because they believe it to be safer than other drugs. However, this isn’t true, because the abuse of methadone can lead to dangerous long and short-term risks, including physical, mental and behavioural disorders.

Methadone can be found under the brand names Methadose, Dolophine, and Methadone HCl Intensol. On the streets, the drug is commonly referred to as wafers, dollies or fizzies.

If you or anyone you know is currently abusing methadone and you believe the danger of addiction is imminent, please get in touch an addiction helpline for advice.

Methadone addiction treatment: What is it?

Methadone might be a pharmaceutical drug used for treating opioid addiction, but the substance itself is an opioid and possesses significantly addictive properties.

In years of clinical use, methadone has proven to be very effective in helping recovering addicts overcome the symptoms of withdrawal, with less discomfort. There is also a methadone maintenance treatment for staying off different types of opioids. However, because methadone itself is addictive, you might find yourself seeking treatment for physical addiction to methadone itself, especially if you have developed a tolerance for the drug, due to abusing it in increased doses.

An addiction to methadone can develop whilst the drug is being used to treat an addiction to other opiates like Vicodin, Oxycontin and Percocet, or if the drug is being abused on its own for recreational purposes. Fortunately, methadone addiction treatment is available to all who require such professional assistance. It is often important to get the necessary treatment as soon as possible before any health or mental disorders develop from abusing the drug.

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Therapy and specialised treatment options

Treatment for methadone addiction will focus firstly on delivering a safe medical detox. In typical cases, methadone withdrawal can be difficult, but it is nonetheless a crucial first step to making a full recovery from substance dependence.

Once detox is complete, the next stage of the specialised treatment will generally involve moving you to a residential treatment facility (a sober living house).

Here, a group and individual recovery plan that best suit your needs will be drawn up and implemented. The plan will be focused on delivering care for primary drug addiction, without methadone medication. Constant care and integrative therapies will play a vital part in your residential treatment. A Partial Hospitalisation Programme (PHP) might also be recommended, depending on the severity of your addiction.

Once rehab at the residential treatment facility is completed, it will be followed by providing you with the necessary coping skills to deal with stressors and triggers that might lure you back to substance abuse post-rehab. This treatment will be delivered during an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which depending on your preference or the severity of your addiction can occur at either a sober living facility or an ‘at-home’ sober environment.

An outpatient programme will help you gradually immerse yourself back into life outside rehab, whilst also helping you build life skills and coping strategies for staying sober post-addiction treatment. Aftercare (which is vital) is also guaranteed for as long as you need it, so that you can always have access to counselling, therapy, or other forms of support.

A specialised treatment plan will generally consist of the following:

  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Individual counselling
  • Nutrition, wellness and stress management treatment services

In certain cases, anti-addiction medication might be required for methadone addiction treatment. Some of the medications often used in such instances include Suboxone (buprenorphine) and Vivitrol (naltrexone), which have proven to be effective at blocking the effects of methadone and minimising cravings, while giving your body the opportunity to make a full recovery. These drugs are less addictive than methadone, so you can worry less about developing a new addiction.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment for methadone addiction

Depending on the severity of your addiction and the level of damage caused to your physiology and psychology by substance abuse, inpatient or outpatient rehab can be recommended for your treatment.

Inpatient rehab for methadone addiction

Inpatient care can be essential to making a full and long-lasting recovery from methadone addiction, especially if it has been going on for a while and complications have risen from substance abuse. If you’re uncertain whether inpatient rehab is right for you, it’s best to seek advice from addiction specialists or your doctor.

An inpatient rehab facility will provide you with intensive 24-hour care while under the programme. This means that you’ll have medical professionals monitoring and managing your recovery process the whole time. With such treatment, complications that might arise during detox can be effectively avoided and your recovery made as comfortable as possible. Also, an inpatient rehab provides a conducive and healthy environment where you can focus solely on sobriety and recovery, without worrying about being distracted by stressors or triggers that might bring on cravings.

Residential care also assures you of complete confidentiality, as you can enter an inpatient facility and leave at the end of your treatment with no one being any the wiser. Simply put, an inpatient programme is the best way to receive dedicated addiction treatment, especially if your methadone addiction is particularly severe.

Outpatient rehab

The difference between an outpatient and inpatient rehab isn’t limited to the fact that inpatient treatment requires you to remain within the facility for the entirety of your treatment, while an outpatient programme only requires you to visit for the day’s treatment, after which you can immediately leave.

An outpatient programme can help an addict make a full recovery, as long as addiction is not severe and the patient doesn’t require round-the-clock monitoring during withdrawal.

Under outpatient treatment, you can go about your life as normal, without interrupting work, school or other aspects of your daily life. Once you have completed that day’s treatment, you can leave. However, this isn’t effective for people with severe addictions, as once outside the facility, they’ll likely be exposed to the stressors and triggers that led them to addiction in the first instance.

In ideal circumstances, inpatient and outpatient rehab are combined for optimal results. That is, you can start an inpatient programme and then move to an outpatient one as your condition improves.

Finding an exclusive methadone rehab

A variety of factors need to be considered when selecting the right methadone rehab facility. If what you want is an exclusive treatment centre, then the location of the facility could be a determining factor.

An exclusive methadone rehab that’s away from your home location could be ideal, but your finances might not allow for a lot of travel. Visiting an exclusive rehab close to home isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you’ll have access to all the family support you need, which can play a huge part in helping you overcome methadone addiction.

Exclusive methadone rehabs – regardless of their location – typically offer the highest levels of confidentiality, as well as luxurious accommodations. Such luxury will provide the height of convenience, as well as a conducive environment where you can focus solely on making a full recovery, whilst being taken care of by a team of specialists and caregivers.

Aside from the provision of top-shelf amenities during your stay, care that focuses on improving your overall wellbeing will also be made available. This can include massage therapy, gourmet meals and much more.

What to know about methadone clinics

When you’re addicted to opioid-based drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers, a methadone clinic (where medication-based therapy can be provided) is the place to go. As part of your treatment, methadone can be prescribed under the brand name Dolophine, which is an opioid analgesic.

Although treatment at a methadone clinic is often managed by a medical specialist, it isn’t actually a cure for addiction issues. This doesn’t make it any less effective at facilitating the treatment and rehabilitation process and guaranteeing an all-inclusive treatment programme.

Methadone clinics can either be a private or public institution, and usually adhere to strict government regulations. The following forms of treatment can be provided to facilitate a full recovery: Medication-assisted treatment, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Medical detox.

If you’re looking for treatment at a methadone clinic, you can expect to experience the following benefits whilst in recovery:

  • Minimising the effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Helping you function normally without depending on the influence of opioids
  • Blocking the physical and psychological effects of opioids
  • Minimising opioid cravings

Private methadone rehabs and confidentiality

If your confidentiality is a priority, you should consider getting treatment for methadone addiction at an inpatient rehab located in a different city, state or even country. Travelling will give you treatment options in a location where you are not recognised and can make a full recovery with anonymity.

Travelling to receive treatment can also provide you with an environment where you can make a full recovery, away from triggers or stressors that exist around your home and normal daily life.

Individual and group therapy

Research indicates that mental illness and substance abuse can be brought about by a variety of factors including biological, psychological and social factors. Generally, drug addiction is more prevalent in individuals who have an ongoing mental disorder, and this can be described as a co-occurring disorder. People with such conditions are often more complicated to appropriately treat.

To avoid treating drug addiction and ignoring mental illness or vice versa, an integrated treatment that delivers an individualised approach that’s tailored to care for your unique condition is recommended. This way, the provided methadone addiction treatment will focus and deal with not just the drug use, but also any underlying mental and behavioural disorders or illnesses that contributed to your addiction to opioids. This integrated approach has the highest likelihood of delivering optimal long-term results.

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Duration of treatment

The duration of methadone addiction treatment can vary quite significantly. The treatment period can span anywhere from one month to several months, but patients who register the most success from treatment are often those who spend longer receiving professional care.

Therefore, a complete recovery from methadone addiction might not necessarily have a fixed timeline. Duration of treatment can be dependent on a number of factors, including co-occurring mental disorders and physiological or psychological factors that differ from individual to individual. A rehab programme can offer comprehensive treatment that will last 30, 60 or 90 days, but the extent of the history of abuse and severity of addiction can necessitate even longer treatment. The more severe the addiction or extensive the history of abuse, the longer the addict should consider staying.

Treatment programmes that last for 30 days mostly focus on detox and pay less attention to rehab. 60 or 90-day programmes can deliver a more comprehensive psychotherapy treatment.

Ending your methadone treatment

Before addiction treatment, you abused drugs to escape negative emotions and overcome stress. With a supervised addiction treatment programme, you can learn to take control and leave a fulfilled life without having to depend on opioids to make you happy or help you survive.

Once you achieve sobriety and have been given the coping skills to maintain it, you can feel capable of living a methadone- free life from there on in. Methadone (despite its application in clinical medicine) is still a highly addictive narcotic and completely getting over addiction will require professional help. Without this, quitting is rarely successful, especially when going through the withdrawal phase.

If your methadone treatment was medically supervised, it’s best if your quitting methadone usage is also supervised. At the ideal rehab centre, you can receive medical support and a comprehensive addiction treatment programme that will help you gradually reduce and finally eliminate your methadone dose the healthy, safe and effective way.

Detoxing from methadone: All you need to know

Detoxing is a crucial first step of treatment that you have to take in order to overcome methadone addiction. The process of detoxification begins the moment you stop using the drug or begin cutting back on your regular dose, until you completely stop using. Stopping the abuse of methadone is what will lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can be very severe or moderately intense, depending on the level of your addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms that typically occur during methadone detoxification include:

  • Anxiety
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Body pain
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Diarrhoea
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Muscle twitching

Withdrawal symptoms during a methadone detox can last anywhere from four to six weeks. Duration is often determined by the level of methadone addiction and length of time the drug was abused for. Withdrawal symptoms are rarely life threatening and usually begin within 12 hours of the last methadone dose.

The detoxification process can be carried out either using a procedure called rapid detox, or a gradual or traditional detox.

Gradual methadone detox involves gradually reducing your methadone dose until you are completely weaned off the drug. This method can be used either in an outpatient or inpatient treatment facility. During this form of detoxification, hardly any or no treatment is provided to minimise withdrawal symptoms.

While the use of this approach might be commonplace, it is generally not regarded as an effective form of treatment, unless provided in an inpatient methadone addiction rehab. This is because in an inpatient facility, your changing condition will be monitored and managed 24/7 by dedicated medical personnel.

Rapid detox on the other hand is only available at inpatient treatment facilities. This involves the use of a general anaesthetic to sedate you during the early stages of your detox. While sedated, your methadone withdrawal symptoms will be significantly reduced – or even completely eliminated – which means by the time you wake up, the worst of the withdrawal symptoms will be behind you. After you wake from sedation, your mental and physical well-being will be monitored by specialists to determine whether you’re healthy enough to proceed to the addiction rehab and recovery stage of treatment.

Psychological therapy

An addiction to methadone can be both physical and psychological, which is why it’s important that not only physical treatment is provided, but also psychological therapy. The characteristics of psychological methadone addiction are quite distinct from physical addiction. Because psychological addiction is distinct, a different class of treatment is required to ensure an addict makes a full recovery of both body and mind.

Psychological and behavioural signs of methadone addiction that indicate psychological therapy might be needed include:

  • Reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Mood swings
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Isolation
  • Stealing or borrowing money
  • Inexplicable hostility or aggression
  • Secretive behaviour and failure to fulfil responsibilities at home, work or school
  • Reduced interest in personal hygiene

Risks of treatment

Methadone treatment isn’t completely risk-free. Using methadone to treat addiction to opioids might be effective, but due to the drug’s addictiveness, a patient can develop dependence if the medication is not administered properly. Because each individual’s tolerance and physiology is different, methadone doses need to be adapted and adjusted periodically. This process is known as ‘induction’ and should be closely monitored and managed by medical staff.

Another risk of methadone treatment is that there’s a possibility of the drug interacting with other medication. Said interaction can lead to heart complications, or certain active ingredients remaining in the body for longer than normal and thus lead to an eventual overdose. It’s always best if methadone is taken at the right time and at the prescribed dosage. A change in the dosing schedule without the permission of your doctor can lead to the development of dependence on the drug and other negative consequences.

Typical side effects of using methadone include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Hallucinations
  • Laboured or shallow breathing
  • Muscle tremors
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
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Paying for methadone addiction treatment

The cost of methadone addiction treatment can vary depending on how intensive your treatment is, its duration and the type of treatment facility. For instance, inpatient facilities typically cost more than outpatient ones because of housing and other related expenses.

In most situations, your insurance policy can cover your addiction treatment (if you have private medical insurance), but it might not cover treatment of co-occurring mental disorders. To verify what your insurance does and doesn’t cover, talk to your insurance company. If you don’t have insurance, you could pay for your treatment with cash, a credit card or loan, or speak to family and friends for financial assistance. Some rehabs offer payment plans which allow you to spread the cost of treatment over several months, making it more affordable.

What to expect from treatment

What you experience during methadone addiction treatment won’t necessarily be the same as what is experienced by another individual. This is because professional rehab facilities often tailor treatment to meet each individual’s unique needs. Treatment often consists of a combination of detoxification and rehab (individual and group therapy). Treatment is then rounded up with relapse prevention education and aftercare planning to help you maintain long-term sobriety post-treatment.


Detox is a crucial first step in methadone addiction treatment. It is the stage where your body rids itself of all methadone-related toxins. The detox process is often an unpleasant one due to withdrawal symptoms brought on by your discontinuing use of the drug. In certain scenarios and depending on severity of addiction, withdrawal symptoms can even be dangerous. This is why a medically supervised detox programme for all recovering addicts is always recommended, to help alleviate the discomforts and risks of the detox process.

Substance abuse therapy

This can consist of various behavioural therapeutic interventions which will commence once detox has been completed. It can involve either group or individual therapy sessions or even a combination of both to address underlying causes of your addiction. You will also be trained to identify stressors and triggers that can lead to a relapse, as well as develop crucial relapse prevention skills.


As you near the end of addiction treatment, you will be assisted by specialists in developing an effective aftercare plan. Your aftercare plan will be designed to provide the necessary support long after you’ve left rehab, with the aid of ongoing therapy, support groups and perhaps a sober living arrangement.

Benefits of holistic rehab

A treatment facility’s approach to dealing with addiction is most effective when it follows a holistic process that first evaluates your condition before mapping out an individualised plan of therapy. Your plan ought to make provisions for personal one-on-one counselling, group therapy sessions and other activities to improve your well-being and health. The benefits of such a holistic approach include:

  • Restoring you to full physical and mental health
  • Treating you as an individual, rather than as a host of symptoms
  • Actively empowering you to change your mindset about addiction
  • Provision of individualised care instead of a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Holistic approach in the long-term is actually a cheaper way of dealing with addiction

Post-rehabilitation support

A full recovery from substance abuse is an ongoing process that continues even after rehab is complete. If not, a relapse can easily occur. This is because the temptation to abuse methadone again never actually goes away. Without the right support to keep you grounded and focused on sobriety, the temptation might be too much to handle.

In the event of a relapse, it’s important to note that you can make it nothing more than a temporary setback and refocus on making a full recovery. This and more can be accomplished with post-rehabilitation support, as well as complete understanding of your reasons for drug usage. Therefore, it is important to plan for post-rehab life and gain the necessary tools to help you resist future usage temptations.

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Sober living support

Knowing that you have support whilst fighting addiction is very healthy and can help you achieve long-term sobriety. It is essential in your day-to-day life, but comes even handier in times of challenges and stress. The encouragement of a support group throughout the recovery process can make a significant difference and this sort of support can come from not only the treatment programme in the form of aftercare, but also family and social support groups.

Some of the most encouraging sources of support when combating addiction include:

  • Halfway houses: These are also referred to as sober living homes. They provide a substance-free and stress-free living environment that lets you focus on recovery whilst being supported by others who are also committed to a sober lifestyle.
  • Outpatient treatment: This provides ongoing therapy and counselling. It can be pursued as a primary recovery plan or combined with inpatient treatment to build up coping mechanisms.
  • Support groups: The most popular support group model is the 12-step programme, which is used by groups like Narcotics Anonymous. The treatment focuses mostly on surrendering to a higher power and making amends with loved ones. Support can also be provided by family and friends.

Each of these support systems has proven to be effective in significantly reducing the chances of a relapse, long after rehab is over.


When is methadone a problem?

If you keep taking methadone – even though you are well aware of its negative effects, but are unable to stop, you need immediate help with addiction.

Other signs that your methadone abuse has become a problem include:

  • Trying to use pretence or illegal means to obtain more methadone
  • Neglecting personal or financial responsibilities so as to use methadone
  • Combining methadone with other drugs (polydrug abuse)
  • Using methadone in other ways besides the prescribed method (such as injecting it)

What is a methadone clinic and how does it work?

A methadone clinic is somewhere those who are addicted to opioid-based drugs (like prescription painkillers and heroin) can go to receive medication-based therapy. Treatment is delivered by receiving methadone in controlled doses as a replacement for the addictive substance, before being gradually weaned off methadone. This form of treatment can be referred to as ‘replacement therapy’.

Who is most likely to visit a methadone clinic?

Anyone who’s been abusing opioids and is unable to stop due to withdrawal symptoms has likely developed an addiction to the drug. Examples of withdrawal symptoms experienced when trying to quit opioids include:

  • Restlessness, irritability, and anxiety
  • Watery eyes
  • Sniffles
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Accelerated heartbeat or breathing

If you use opioids and experience any of the above symptoms when you fail to take a fresh dose, it’s likely time to seek addiction treatment at a methadone clinic.

How long should you be taking methadone?

Methadone is an extremely addictive drug that shouldn’t be used unless prescribed by a medical professional. If prescribed, methadone should not be used beyond the dosage and duration prescribed by your doctor.

Should you use methadone treatment for drug rehab?

Methadone is a painkiller which was initially created for the treatment of chronic or long-lasting pain. The drug is currently a highly recommended treatment for opioid addictions, especially for drugs like oxycodone, heroin, hydrocodone or morphine. If methadone is properly prescribed and administered to an addict, he/she will experience less uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and can therefore have a much easier road to recovery.

Do I need methadone rehab?

It is likely you require treatment at a methadone rehab facility if you’re exhibiting any of the following signs of addiction brought on from abusing the substance:

  • Taking more than the prescribed dosage
  • Using false pretences to get higher doses of methadone or multiple prescriptions
  • Refusal to undergo proper testing, examination or referral

Another sign that you need methadone rehab is if you are exhibiting withdrawal symptoms when you try quitting on your own.

How long does inpatient methadone rehabilitation take?

The duration of inpatient methadone rehab is dependent on the severity of the addiction and a variety of other factors. However, treatment programmes are available that last for 30, 60 or 90 days, though it has been shown that the longer an addict stays in rehab, the better the recovery results usually are.

What happens during treatment?

During methadone addiction treatment, you’ll go through three stages of therapy. The first stage is detox, where your body will be purged of toxins associated with the addictive substance. The second stage is where you’ll be treated for psychological addiction and be taught how to cope in a life that’s free of methadone. The third stage is aftercare, which is a voluntary treatment that will provide support post-rehab and help you stay focused and motivated on remaining sober.

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