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.

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.

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?


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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