Help is here. You are not alone
Overcoming Methadone Addiction Effectively
Table of content
Table of content
Give Us a Call and Let Us Guide You
If you or a loved one is dealing with an addiction, the Canadian Centre for Addictions is here to guide you.
We offer medical detox and multiple addiction treatment options in our
luxury treatment centres in Port Hope, Cobourg, and Ottawa.

Overcoming Methadone Addiction Effectively

Written by Seth Fletcher on May 17, 2024
Medical editor Victoria Perez Gonzalez
Last update: May 23, 2024

Methadone treatment is commonly used for overcoming pain and opioid addictions, but the substance is addictive as well. Oftentimes patients become dependent on it as a result of treatment. Beating such an addiction is hard, especially once withdrawal starts. Methadone addiction withdrawal is the biggest obstacle on the road to recovery, causing a number of harsh symptoms. 

Patients experience nervousness, perspiration, nausea, and irregular sleep patterns, in addition to intense cravings. Still, with the right approach, these discomforts will pass. When handled carefully, withdrawal is a critical turning point in recovery. It not only marks the start of breaking away from addiction but also creates the foundation for a drug-free future. Today, we will explore how exactly methadone addicts can beat their dependence.

Key Takeaways

  • Methadone Complexity: Methadone helps reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms but requires careful monitoring to avoid addiction and dose escalation.
  • Counselling's Role: Essential for recovery, counselling helps identify addiction causes and develop coping strategies, aiding in personal recovery.
  • Detox Process: Controlled methadone reduction minimizes withdrawal effects, with medications available to ease the detox process.
  • Support and Therapy: Ongoing support through various therapies is crucial for recovery, addressing both psychological and social aspects of addiction.

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is a lighter opioid compared to heroin. It influences the same opiate receptors and provides the same effect, only milder. It reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing a euphoric high. This is why methadone is a lifesaver for opioid addicts. However, it’s still an addictive substance, and there is always a risk of dependence. As patients develop a tolerance to the drug during treatment, they need higher doses to achieve the same effects. Over time, the dosage might become so high that it’s no different from heavier opioids. This leads to methadone addiction, trapping patients in a cycle of dependence that can be as challenging to escape as the addiction it was meant to treat.

How Does Methadone Treatment Work?

Methadone maintenance treatment is offered in specialized clinics. There, doctors guide patients through this challenging process. The first step is a thorough examination of the individual's medical history and drug use. This is done to tailor the treatment to their specific needs.  It also helps determine the right methadone dose. It’s adjusted based on how the person responds to the medication. Clinic staff take extra care to monitor how the patient reacts to the first doses. Patients need to visit the clinic regularly to take their methadone dose under supervision. Initially, this may happen daily to ensure safe, effective use of the medication.


But medication alone is not enough to fight addiction. Counselling plays a vital role in the treatment. Through counselling sessions, individuals process what caused their addiction and develop new coping strategies. Additionally, they receive support in finding jobs and legal matters. These steps are vital for rehabilitation and return to everyday life.

How Long Does the Treatment Take?

Methadone treatment can last for months or even years, varying from person to person. It continues until the person no longer craves opioids. Initially, patients work with their doctors to reduce their methadone dose. Eventually, they stop taking it altogether. Both the doctor and patient must be cautious to avoid causing withdrawal symptoms.

The Drawbacks of Methadone Treatment

Methadone treatment poses a number of challenges. Overcoming addiction is a massive time commitment. Patients typically need to visit a clinic on a regular schedule to receive their dose. It can interfere with personal responsibilities like work and family life. Individuals must also exercise discipline and willpower to overcome the side effects of methadone. Drowsiness, weight gain, and respiratory issues worsen the quality of life and cause a great degree of stress. 

Another concern is the stigma associated with methadone treatment. Addicted individuals are often judged by society and even their closest people. They see methadone treatment as another dependency, not a necessary medical intervention. Lastly, even though methadone opens a path to full recovery, ending the treatment can be difficult. At any point, patients can relapse or become dependent on the medication.

Methadone Addiction: Signs and Symptoms

To prevent the development of a methadone addiction, medical professionals need to pay attention to early warning signs and quickly make changes to the therapy. The first cause for concern is increased methadone tolerance. If the patient reports needing larger doses to achieve the same effect, it is a clear sign of a progressing dependence. In turn, this may lead to compulsive use of the medication. If the patient starts taking larger doses on their own, this is a clear sign of an addiction and requires immediate intervention.

Methadone addicts suffer a harsh life disruption. Their compulsion makes them unable to fulfill their duties at work as well as social or personal responsibilities. They become social outcasts both because of societal stigma and the drastic shift in personality.

As patients experience withdrawal, they exhibit common opioid addiction symptoms. These are anxiety, insomnia, uncontrollable sweating and shaking, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches. In addition to physical symptoms, withdrawal makes patients irritable and abrasive and, in some cases, leads to mental breakdown.

These symptoms are clear signs that doctors need to change methadone dosage and reevaluate the treatment as a whole. This is vital since timely intervention prevents the addiction cycle from getting worse.

Behavioural Changes

Using methadone for addiction treatment is a lifesaver, but in case patients become dependent on it, the situation may become worse. Families and people close to addicts suffer just as well. Their loved ones were just getting their lives back on the line, and now they are back to square one. Maintaining mental health throughout recovery is crucial not only to help addicts push through this challenging time but also to help them mend relationships and return to everyday life.

First and foremost, healthcare providers must prevent social isolation. Methadone-addicted people tend to distance themselves from social connections and support systems such as their friends and families. Naturally, this should be prevented at all costs, as they deprive people of their main source of emotional support. 

Methadone addiction also puts great economic strain on individuals. Ongoing care is costly, and people suffering from dependency have lower productivity, which may lead to less earnings or losing their jobs altogether. This compounds the emotional strain on individuals and makes recovery harder. Medical professionals need to understand each individual case to tailor therapy accordingly.

Physical and Psychological Symptoms

Long-term use of methadone causes not just withdrawal but also a number of unpleasant symptoms. These include diaphoresis or flushing, pruritus, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, sedation, lethargy, respiratory depression, adrenal insufficiency, hypotension, and hyperhidrosis. These issues greatly lower the quality of life of patients. Additionally, methadone addiction causes mood swings, sadness, and anxiety. This is why recovery programs should address both the physical and emotional health of recovering methadone addicts.

Methadone Addiction Treatment

The first step in ending the methadone addiction cycle is detox. The procedure involves gradually lowering methadone levels in the body via controlled abstinence. If done professionally, withdrawal symptoms are minimized, and the patients fully recover over time.

Steps of Effective Detoxification

The first step in the detox process involves a gradual reduction of methadone dosage. This tapering strategy helps minimize withdrawal symptoms. The rate of dose reduction depends on several factors, including the individual's health, their history of drug use, and how they respond to lower doses of methadone. As individuals receive lower doses, they may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, and sleep disturbances.

Healthcare providers use a number of medications to ease discomfort and help the detox process. To reduce insomnia, healthcare providers often prescribe sleep aids. These are mostly over-the-counter options like antihistamines or prescription medications such as Zolpidem. Medications such as benzodiazepines help with anxiety. However, they are often addictive so doctors strictly supervise their use. Thankfully, there are non-addictive alternatives like Buspirone as well. To combat nausea, doctors use medications that prevent motion sickness or treat nausea in chemotherapy patients, such as Ondansetron. The choice of drugs used for treatment depends on the individual's specific health needs and how it might interact with other substances used for therapy.

Once methadone is fully tapered off, patients need ongoing support and treatment to prevent relapse. These involve continued therapy, support groups, and other forms of medication-assisted treatment to sustain recovery progress.

Medications Used to Treat Methadone Addiction

Medical healthcare providers use a variety of medications to assist in recovery. The most common ones are Buprenorphine, Naltrexone and Clonidine. 

Buprenorphine is often used as an alternative to methadone for treating opioid addiction. It reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing the same high as other opioids. Buprenorphine has a lower potential for abuse compared to methadone, making it a great replacement drug. 

Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids on receptors in the brain. Naltrexone can be especially helpful for maintaining abstinence after a successful detox.

Clonidine, though not an opioid, is often used to reduce withdrawal symptoms. It effectively helps with anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping. It doesn’t reduce cravings for opioids, so it’s usually used in combination with other medications. 

Therapy and Counseling

Counselling plays a critical role in methadone addiction treatment. It tackles the psychological and behavioural aspects of dependence. A number of therapeutic approaches help individuals understand their addiction, develop coping strategies, and make positive changes in their lives.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is widely used in methadone addiction treatment. It helps individuals identify and change negative thinking patterns and behaviors associated with drug use. Through CBT, patients learn to handle challenges and stress without resorting to opioids. As an added bonus, they may also develop skills to manage their emotions and behavior more effectively.

Motivational interviewing is another common technique. It is a client-centered approach that helps individuals become more motivated to change their lives for the better. Counselors help clients overcome their passive attitude toward substance use and encourage them to set and achieve personal goals on the road to recovery.

Family therapy can greatly help addiction treatment, as addiction often affects the entire family. This type of therapy tackles issues within the family that might have influenced or caused substance use. Additionally, it improves communication and support among family members. As a result, instead of being ostracized by their closest people, methadone addicts get a powerful support base to help them through recovery.

Group therapy offers a supportive environment where individuals can share experiences and challenges with people facing similar issues. This helps reduce the isolation caused by the addiction and can lead to developing new coping strategies based on shared experience.

Methadone Addiction Treatment Centres

Choosing the right addiction treatment center is crucial for receiving effective treatment. We advise you to take several things into account to make an informed decision. First, check accreditation and licensing to make sure that the center meets the standards for safety and quality of care. Also, the center’s staff should be well-trained and experienced professionals. Remember that overcoming addiction requires doctors, nurses, and counsellors to work together, and each of these specialists is just as important as the others.

Make sure that the approach to treatment is holistic. Addressing the psychological and social factors of addictions is just as important as physical ones. The center should provide a range of therapeutic options tailored to individual needs. Do not choose centers that don’t offer cognitive-behavioural therapy, family counselling, and support groups. While not crucial, always read patient testimonials and reviews. They may not be definitive sources of credibility, but a large amount of positive feedback indicates generally good results.

Accessibility is important for people with time constraints or disabilities. The treatment center should have flexible hours and be located in an easy-to-reach place. Privacy and confidentiality also play a large role in recovery. Addictions carry lots of societal stigma, and ensuring safety and confidentiality is necessary to make patients feel comfortable in seeking and receiving treatment. After-treatment care is also a must-have. A good methadone treatment center provides ongoing support and aftercare services to help patients maintain sobriety after the initial phase of treatment. If an addiction center fits all of these requirements, it’s definitely a good choice to help you or your loved ones overcome methadone addiction.

Canadian Centre for Addictions: Best Choice for Complete Recovery

The Canadian Centre for Addictions is a prime choice for addiction treatment for people living in Canada. We offer cutting-edge recovery strategies and selections of treatments tailored to each patient's specific needs. CCA always uses a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation. For methadone addictions, we develop specialized detox programs and have a wide range of counselling options, including family counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. Rest assured, your rehabilitation process will be complete and as comfortable as possible. You will always have sympathetic help beating your addiction.

Embracing a Future Free from Addiction

Beating methadone addiction is a complex process. It requires medical professionals to know the effects of the drug and be on the lookout for the warning signs. After all, the best treatment is preventing the addiction in the first place. However, if dependence still occurs for one reason or another, overcoming it is more than feasible. It seems daunting, sure, but there are effective treatment programs that help patients navigate the difficult path to recovery. Every stage is crucial, from choosing the right clinic to methadone detox to continued therapy and counselling. 

Treatment centres for drug addiction offer more than just medical care. Addicts also receive financial and legal advice to make sure they reintegrate into society after recovery. Methadone addiction might cause people to become social outcasts, but that is temporary. And throughout this challenging path, they will not be alone. By following this route, addicts can achieve a future free from the limitations of addiction, recover their lives, and mend relationships.


What is methadone, and why is it used in addiction treatment?

Methadone is a milder opioid that targets the same receptors as stronger opioids like heroin. It's used in addiction treatment to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing a euphoric high, making it easier for individuals to wean off stronger opioids.

How does methadone treatment work?

Methadone treatment involves regular visits to specialized clinics where the medication is administered under medical supervision. The dosage is carefully adjusted based on the individual’s response to the drug and their medical history, ensuring safe and effective treatment.

What are the potential drawbacks of methadone treatment?

While effective, methadone treatment can be time-consuming and interfere with personal responsibilities. Side effects like drowsiness, and respiratory issues can affect quality of life. Additionally, there's societal stigma associated with methadone use and the risk of dependency on the medication itself.

What role does counselling play in overcoming methadone addiction?

Counselling is a critical component of methadone treatment. It helps individuals address the root causes of their addiction, develop coping strategies, and receive support in areas like employment and legal issues, facilitating a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation.

How can one choose the right methadone treatment centre?

Choosing the right treatment centre involves checking for accreditation and licensing to ensure the quality of care. The centre should offer a holistic approach, including a range of therapeutic options tailored to individual needs. Additionally, accessibility, privacy policies, and after-treatment care services should be considered to support long-term recovery.

Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

Dr. Victoria Perez Gonzalez is a highly respected doctor who specializes in the brain and mental health. She has extensive knowledge and experience in this field.

More in this category: