Although treatment with methadone does have some significant risks, these are generally lower than the risks of abusing heroin or other opioids. For instance, although a methadone overdose can be fatal, people on maintenance treatment are less likely to overdose, compared with those still abusing drugs.
Methadone maintenance treatment can be inconvenient, especially at first, when you must go to your clinic every day to receive your dose. As you "prove" your ability to adhere to the rules of the program, you will be allowed to increase your take-home doses. Also, in some areas of the country, people may have to travel long distances to reach a methadone clinic, since not all states have them.
There is also the risk that people in methadone maintenance treatment may "divert" the drug (sell it to others illegally). This is a large source for some of the illegal "street" methadone in some areas of the United States.
For most people, however, the benefits of maintenance treatment greatly outweigh the downsides or the alternative of continued heroin use.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Methadone maintenance treatment (February 2002). CDC Web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/idu/facts/MethadoneFin.pdf. Accessed June 15, 2009.
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Methadone (April 2000). ONDCP Web site. Available at: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/pdf/ncj175678.pdf. Accessed June 15, 2009.
The Division of Pharmacologic Therapies (DPT) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). About the new SAMHSA regulations for methadone treatment. SAMHSA Web site. Available at: http://www.dpt.samhsa.gov/patients/pscep/Faq.htm#3. Accessed June 15, 2009.
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