Sometimes, patients come to First Step® after beginning a methadone program for heroin addiction somewhere else, because they are now hooked on methadone. This is clearly a cruel irony, especially if the methadone treatment has helped a patient to reduce his or her heroin use.
While Methadone can allow some patients to stop their Heroin or Oxycontin use, the success rate is low because patients are not really drug free. Methadone patients are still dependent on a strong mood altering drug and so they continue to have strong cravings. What is worse is that methadone is much harder to detoxify from than heroin or oxycontin. Even a very slow taper off methadone produces very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This drives patients to use drugs during the tapering period in order to relieve the discomfort. Many clinics and their patients give up and elect to stay on methadone maintenance. But this is not a good solution either, since methadone maintenance doesn’t usually stop other drug use, and it is much harder to detoxify oneself off methadone than any other opiate. This reality has led First Step® to modify our highly successful Accelerated Detox program to help Methadone users to completely detoxify themselves in only eight days and help them stay clean.
Methadone does not have to be the way of life for former heroin addicts. Methadone is a case of a cure being worse than the disease. Critics point out that methadone patients are still addicts and that methadone therapy does not help addicts with their personality problems. In many cases multiple drug use and a strong psychological dependence undermine the gains made. Some addicts manage to resell the methadone they receive in order to buy heroin; this and other illegal diversion have resulted in methadone joining the group of addictive drugs sold on the street.