Can dolophine and methadone reduce heroin abuse?

Narcotic pain meds like dolophine, methadone, methadose, and phy are prescribed during opiate addiction treatment. But does methadone encourage or reduce illicit drug use? Dr. Burson reviews the facts and research about the benefits of dolophine and methadone in the treatment of opioid abuse here.

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Discussing methadone (the generic name for opioid brands methadose, phy and dolophine) can be controversial.  However, Dr. Jana Burson is a clinical physician who works with opiate addicts…and has found that when administered correctly, methadone can help an opiate addict recover from addiction.  Here, she discusses more benefits of clinically prescribed methadone.

Opioid tolerance levels on methadone

Contrary to popular misconception, tolerance to methadone doesn’t develop to the blocking dose, so patients can continue on the same dose for months or even years. Methadone works well in most patients. In fact, we have many studies that show the dramatic drop in illicit opioid use when addicts start methadone treatment.

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Opioid receptors / opiate withdrawal reduction help heroin users refrain

Using methadone for the treatment of opiate addiction reduces illicit opioid drug use. By occupying opioid receptors, methadone alleviates the physical withdrawal symptoms, which can become the driving force of addiction. Many addicts continue to use opioids long after their ever-increasing tolerance makes it difficult to become intoxicated, or high. These addicts continue to use opioids to prevent the dreaded physical illness that follows cessation of opioids.

With methadone, opioid addicts don’t have to face this awful withdrawal. Methadone can be dosed once per day and lasts long enough to keep the patient out of withdrawal for at least twenty-four hours. Once the opioid addict is on a sufficient dose of methadone to occupy opioid receptors, other opioids are blocked from having their effects. If the addict then uses heroin or oxycodone, he won’t feel high from it, realize it’s a waste of money, and stop using these illicit opioids.

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Do methadone pills help addicts with other drug cravings?

While we expect the rate of illicit opioid use to go down in a patient on methadone, it should have no effect on illicit use of non-opioid drugs. Methadone has no effect on cravings for cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, or benzodiazepine nerve pills. However, as an added bonus to methadone treatment, some studies show that use of non-opioid drugs also declines. Not every study showed significant decreases, but most do. Methadone patients should receive counseling, in addition to methadone. It’s probably this counseling that helps reduce use of non-opioid drugs.

Opioids discussion

Do you find yourself biased against the use of methadone for heroin and opiate addiction.  Do the common side effects of methadone treatment outweight the benefits of clincial prescription of methadone.  And if the use of drugs like methadone, methadose, phy and dolophine result in reduced use of heroin and other opioids as well as reduced use of other drugs…why aren’t there more methadone treatment centers out there?

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About the author
Jana Burson M.D. is board-certified in Internal medicine, and certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. After practicing primary care for many years, she became interested in the treatment of addiction. For the last six years, her practice has focused exclusively on Addiction Medicine. She has written a book about prescription pain pill addiction: "Pain Pill Addiction: Prescription for Hope." Also see Dr. Burson's blog here.


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  1. (I am the mother) Why isn,t there more clinics & more councilling done for addiction without having to go to rehab?
    For their sake someone get action on this issue.

    1. Hi Pat. Call the number you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find an adequate treatment program.

  2. i was on subutex for 3 years and it never worked, i would use herion 1-2 times per week maybe more when i had the money and managed a keep a series of different jobs but because i wanted methadone so badly my drug worker was a nasty piece of work and said no im not allowed it as it wont help me recover!!?? stupid ladie was wrong

    i ended up having enough of using H and W herion and cocaine in a rock form
    So i rang my drug workers boss and complained i was being treated wrong and needed methadone and she should be warned for not listening to me
    so the boss lkistened and prescibed me 50ml of it to collect daily and since i got prescibed this in january! i havent used since new years eve any herion and my life is slowly getting better

    im so glad my horrible drugs worker Megan has left and i now have a new drug worker who listens and yes i might occasionally smoke crack but im certainly done with the herion and i dont want to be sick again now i got my methadone it stops me feeling like crap like subutex and buprenorphine 20mg a day ( megan made me go from weekly collection to daily collection which why i was angry and made me want a decent drug which worked )

    so yeah i ghuess methadone is more danger of a overdose if you use Herion on top but i aint stupid enough to inject herion if i relapse! i would only smoke it as its safer this way/

    but whoever is on subutex and relapsing 247 you probably arent feeling any benefits from subutex now your use to it and you need to transfer to methadone like i did it was the best thing i ever did was complain about horrible megan who would make me stay on buprenorphine and then to be nasty make me collect everyday after i was stable and taking it home for 7days but methadone is the magic bottle! its no cure but heres the difference between subutex and meth

    I couldnt use herion as it blocks 100% herion
    I felt awful 7days a week 365 days a year
    i got a lot of headaches and felt paranoid and couldnt sleep properly
    i would go for days without taking it when forced to go to chemist everyday
    i loved snorting the tablets as they tasted like crap under the tounge!
    but couldnt as i was forced to collect daily when i lost my job
    i dont feel human on subutex and was using herion when i had the money

    i can hold down a job, sleep well at night. i dont feel like crap i feel quite good about myself and have been herion free for 3-4weeks
    I may have to collect daily for now BUT HELL YEAH THIS IS WORTH GOING TO THE PHARMACY FOR!! I dont care what people think as i feel brand new on this unlike subutex made me feel ill and i had to wait 30mins most days to be made to sit down with some horrible polish women who made me disolve the tablets before leaving chemist ( total jobs worth )

    since going to boots pharmacy and starting methadone life has got better
    i found a job and start tomorro
    i hardly use crack and have knocked herion on the head as its not worth it
    i dont feel pain like i use to get really bad back pain and stomach disorders from subutex

    many more pros to methadone but the cons for me are

    it does taste horrible and i can live with this thoe as i would rather this than subutex and herion life i use to have

    it rots your teeth if u dont brush teeth regular ( keep on top of the dentist ect )

    no other bad comments some people say it make them feel slow and sluggish but this side effect doesnt bother me and sometimes i feel noddy or sleepy but this is nice 🙂

    methadone is the best solution to any gearheads recovery but subutex is okay if your a seldom user of smack!! but coz of all the pain and discomfort of megan and her prescribing me subutex i ended up using herion all the time as she wouldnt put me on meth!!

    so i will stay on my 50ml for a few months get a secure job and save up money for my kid who is on the way
    and be off all drugs soon as i want to be a drug free father and a good dad and a good role model!

    remember subutex doesnt work if your too far gone like i was
    you NEED METHADONE if you are a heavy user of smack or crack!! yes even crackhead i know she is on methadone for crack addiction! she stays clean most the time

  3. Dr Jana Burson, it would seem to me that your view or idea that Methadone reduces illicit use of heroin is completely and utterly wrong. I would also add that the studies that show methadone as a major factor in helping addicts reduce are also very wrong. Let me explain. I have used Heroin for over 25 years and have been on methadone for at least 15 of those years on numerous methadone programs. Not once did I nor most of the addicts I knew ever reduce our illicit heroin use. No, we would fix our urine test or our swab test to make it look like we were off the heroin. Its easier than you would believe to fix the results and as most of us addicts are masters of deception this fixing of the results has mostly gone undetected in most of the substance misuse centers I know. In fact these centers are run by people that just can’t believe that they could have been fooled by an addict. This makes it even easier to fool these tests as the staff refuse to look out for this deception. I am also sure the manufactures of the test equipment boast about how their tests are foolproof when again this is just not true. There are ways to make sure results are true but these methods would be very invasive, perhaps involve the giving of blood, not easy if the patient has no veins or would go against human rights. I E watching some one pee in a jar. So as you see the studies have been and are open to abuse which should render all results as seriously flawed. Now I was on methadone for years and firmly believe that the methadone helped me sustain my heroin use not reduce it. Why, well let me explain. An addict wakes up sick and needing to score. It’s not that easy to get up and earn money to score when you are sick and withdrawing. The methadone is the crutch you need to help you feel well enough to get up and earn money to get high. That’s right . Once you have taken your methadone you are then well enough to do what you need to do to get money. You just need to consume extra heroin to feel it over the methadone in your system. Every one I knew was and still is doing this. Most programs ignore this because to recognize it would and should result in the closure of these methadone programs and that would mean the loss of jobs and budgets and other things that benefit those that run the programs. So all in all, methadone, in my opinion, (and this being from someone on the front-line and not behind a desk in a cozy office with a salary and company car) helps us addicts sustain our heroin abuse.
    This is the truth that has been swept under the rug. This is the truth that no doubt you will choose not to believe. Well maybe it’s your job and car on the line and just as I will do anything to get my fix you will do anything to keep your job.

  4. Respected Dr., Our boy is 25 years old and is using the drug heroin via injection for the past 12 years. Several time we admitted him to treatment in Pakistan but no response. What is your description of medications that can help save him from heroin, and save his life?

  5. Of course, methadone reduces cravings for heroin. No doubts about that. Firstly, cause it is a powerful opioid by itself. Chemical mapping of methadone to opioid receptors is better than that of heroin. So the person who is on methadone doesn’t experience physical withdrawal from heroin. Then euphoric effect from Methadone is much lower comparing to Heroin. Secondly, Methadone is a good painkiller with marked sedative effect. That is why it also reduces cravings for other substances. The main problem is that Methadone is an opioid with all following consequences ( physical and mental dependence, high possibility of being trapped in this addiction for years with inevitable deterioration of physical health condition). To my professional opinion (Dr.Vorobiev Clinic for Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment. Belgrade) complete cleansing out of opiates with ensuing Naltrexone program and adjunct counseling looks much more promising. I can state that on the strength of years of success in field of opiate addiction treatment in our clinics.

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