I know of a couple of people out there who are addicted to Methadone and from what I have seen, this is actually worse than being addicted to heroin in some ways. The real problem has to do with the way methadone metabolizes in the body….which is to say, it does so very, very slowly. In other words, it is a “sticky” drug in that it clings in the body for a long time and makes it very, very difficult to stop taking the drug. Heroin and most other opiates process out of the body much quicker and are therefore actually easier to detox from.
Those who are on methadone have usually experienced at least a taste of what this withdrawal is going to feel like, so they become trapped in a cycle of taking more methadone (duh, this is addiction we are talking about here!). But understand that with methadone this tendency is far worse than with other drugs, because the withdrawal symptoms are so extremely uncomfortable and they are drawn out over an even longer period of time. Heroin withdrawal might take about 3 to 5 days, but methadone withdrawal can take well over a week, depending on a number of factors.
Success rates with drug therapy in general – my subjective opinion
For what it is worth, I work in a treatment center, and have done so for over 4 years now. I have seen a number of clients who have tried drug therapy over the years, both methadone maintenance as well as other forms of drug therapy (such as Suboxone maintenance). Just based on my observations here (please note this is not scientific), I am seeing more and more that drug therapy does not work in the long run. Why do I say this?
Because nearly every person who has been put on drug therapy at the treatment center has come back for detox and more treatment down the road. It would be easy to ignore if this were happening with maybe half of the cases or less. But it turns out that it seems like it is nearly everyone who ends up returning to their drug of choice who tries drug therapy.
This is frustrating because drug therapy makes a lot of sense to me and it seems like it should give certain addicts a clear advantage in overcoming methadone addiction or other drug problems. But based on what I have observed, the actual outcomes do not seem to support this. Remember, this is just my experience based on what I’ve seen, and drug therapy still might be a good choice for you. (Always consult your doctor for these types of decisions of course, but remember that you are your own best doctor in a lot of cases and you are still responsible for your recovery!).
Clearly, if people are going to use drug therapy to supplement their efforts in recovery, then the drug therapy needs to be a secondary strategy, and the addict must still have other recovery strategies that they focus on heavily in order to recover. In other words, drug therapy needs to be viewed as something that might help, not as a primary solution. Addicts still need to take real action in their life and do some serious footwork if they are to stay clean and sober in the long run.
Just my 2 cents based on what I have seen.