Perhaps the greatest area of research in the addiction field has been done in the area of medication-assisted treatment. As with the treatment of other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, medication—combined with lifestyle changes—can be highly effective in treating heroin or other opioid dependence. In fact, approximately 1 in 5 people enrolled in addiction treatment programs in the U.S. receive medication-assisted treatment.
If you or a loved one struggle with dependence on heroin or prescription pain medications, PEER Services can help. Since 1975, we have utilized FDA-approved medications to help adults through opioid withdrawal. Our expert team—which includes a physician, nurses, and counselors—will work with you to design a treatment plan addressing your specific needs. We focus on helping you return to your maximum level of functioning so that you can live the life you want.
Our program employs a holistic approach to treatment. Patients receive education, training and support related to
- Accessing Support through 12-Step Recovery
- Developing Healthier Nutrition and Exercise Practices
- Managing Pain and Stress
- Managing Conflict
- Strengthening Daily Living Skills
- Enhancing Parenting Skills
To find out more or to schedule an appointment, please call
Evanston: ☎ 847.492.1778 and ask for the MAT team
Important Facts about Medication-Assisted Treatment
Addiction is a chronic progressive disease which, if left untreated, can be fatal. Common opioid drugs include heroin, morphine, codeine, vicodin, dilaudid, fentanyl and oxycontin. Since the 1960s, methadone, a prescription oral medication, has been successfully used to treat heroin and other opioid addictions in the U.S. Like other controlled substances, methadone must be prescribed by a licensed physician who assesses the patient and determines whether a prescription will be beneficial. The specific dosage is individualized, generally based on the patient’s opiate tolerance, metabolic needs, and other medical conditions and/or treatments. A therapeutic dosage stops the craving for heroin or other opiate drugs but does not lead to euphoria or sedation in the patient.
Methadone treatment provides an individual dependent on heroin or other opioids with health, social, and rehabilitation services and medically prescribed methadone. The program’s goals are to relieve withdrawal symptoms, reduce opiate craving, and normalize the body’s functioning.
PEER Services’ team of professionals has extensive medical, clinical, and administrative expertise. Methadone is prescribed by a licensed physician and dispensed by a nurse. Each patient has an individualized treatment plan which includes a combination of individual and group counseling. Each patient works with his or her counselor to set specific goals, which may include employment, education, improved overall health, or other objectives based on the patient’s needs.
Frequently Asked Questions about Medication-Assisted Treatment
How does methadone work?
Methadone treatment is the most widely studied treatment approach to opiate addiction. For individuals abusing heroin, with an oral medication dispensed by a licensed healthcare provider, they may begin to break their pattern, or ritual, of injection drug use.
Heroin and most opioids are short-acting, lasting only 4–6 hours. Their use leads to a cycle of euphoria and withdrawal symptoms which leads to an individual obtaining the next dose each day, several times a day.
Methadone is a long-acting opiate absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and carried by the blood to the opiate receptors in the brain. Additional methadone is stored in the blood stream and body tissues for release to the brain as needed. It provides a steady state for 24 hours or more, preventing the highs and lows, allowing an individual to focus on recovery, life goals, and good health.
Is methadone effective?
According to a report of the U.S. government’s General Accounting Office (GAO), “The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the federal government’s two primary agencies for researching drug and alcohol abuse issues, have concluded that methadone is the most effective treatment available for heroin addiction.”
Will some people be on methadone for the rest of their lives?
Yes, some people may require this medication for the rest of their lives in order to maintain their health, while others will not. As with most medications and medical treatments, individual bodies respond differently to methadone. Opioid addiction is a complex disease, and unfortunately, more research is still needed to fully understand the complexities of this addiction.
We know that addiction runs in some families. It appears that some individuals who develop an opioid dependency may have been born with endorphin systems that make them particularly susceptible to opioid addiction. Further, it appears that heroin (or other opioid) addiction may cause changes in the brain that make it difficult to discontinue use without the assistance of treatment.
For some people, methadone is a temporary tool used to help achieve abstinence from heroin or other opioids. These individuals work with the prescribing physician to establish a comfortable tapering-off schedule to slowly decrease and eventually discontinue the medication. Aftercare counseling is generally recommended to maintain the strides made in treatment. Many individuals find participation in 12-step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous helpful in maintaining long-term sobriety.
Why do the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) advocate the use of methadone in the treatment of heroin and other opioid addiction?
The benefits of methadone treatment have been well established. Methadone has been critical in helping countless individuals find the road to recovery. In addition, it has been established that people addicted to heroin and other street opioids who receive methadone treatment are healthier and safer than those who do not; they are less likely to spend time in jail or the hospital and are less likely to become infected with HIV or Hepatitis C. Most people find that methadone treatment leads to increased health and functioning.
Is methadone effective in treating cocaine or alcohol addictions?
No. Methadone is specifically used to treat heroin and other opioid addictions. Researchers continue to search for a medication as effective at treating cocaine or alcohol addiction as methadone is in treating heroin addiction.
Does methadone cure heroin addiction?
There is no cure for addiction. Methadone, however, when combined with ongoing therapy and supportive case management, can be a successful long-term approach to address opioid dependence.
For more information, see http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA09-4443/SMA09-4443.pdf