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What is methadone maintenance?

Methadone is a medication used to treat both pain and addiction. When it is used to treat addiction, we call it MMT, or MAT the acronym for Methadone Maintenance Therapy or Medication Assisted Treatment. This is done as part of a medically supervised program which includes a physician appointment and brief physical exam, lab work, individual counseling and case management, and groups of various types. It is very effective in helping individuals who are addicted to opiates or narcotics to stabilize medically, psychologically, socially, and economically.

A methadone maintenance clinic does not treat pain, and a pain clinic does not treat addiction. Just as we acknowledge that antidepressant medication may be useful in treating depression, especially combined with psychotherapy, so too is methadone useful in treating opiate addiction in combination with appropriate counseling and groups. This works for much of the same reason, restoring healthy brain chemistry while working on the psychosocial issues. There are over 1,200,000 opiate addicted individuals in America, yet only 15% receive MMT, the most effective opiate agonist therapy.

Testing has shown there is no cognitive impairment on MMT. People function well when maintained on proper doses. Excessive dosing can result in sedation. Pregnant women who are abusing or addicted to narcotics or opiates benefit greatly from MMT and are urged to call right away to get priority entrance to a program in their community. Watch the WYNK flash videos on methadone as well as on methadone and pregnancy.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

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