Methadone is a type of opioid that is used both to alleviate pain, and can also be used to taper individuals off of other opioids for which they’ve become addicted. Although methadone does not affect individuals in the same way that other addictive opioids can, it still maintains the potential to become addictive.

When used properly and in controlled amounts, methadone is able to create the same kind of effect on the brain as other opioids; however, individuals will not experience the same physical effects. When methadone is not used as prescribed, there is still the potential for a user to become dependent on the drug.

Those who are asking, ‘How does methadone treatment work?’ should know that the success rate ranges anywhere from 60-90%. The following information gives a more in-depth look at the process of methadone treatment.

How It Works

Methadone affects both the brain and the spinal cord, subsequently blocking the “high” that is caused by other opioids such as codeine, fentanyl, morphine and heroin. Methadone also has the ability to stop feelings of cravings, and helps to halt withdrawal symptoms from occurring.

When taken once a day, individuals can ease their withdrawal symptoms from other drugs for approximately 24-36 hours. It is important to note that while methadone has the ability to curb the urge for other opioid substances, it is not able to fight withdrawal symptoms of other substances such as alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.

By halting the changing opioid levels in the blood stream, individuals can avoid all of the physical and psychological highs and lows attributed to withdrawal. As a result, it becomes easier for people to avoid relapsing, and it also helps to avoid common effects of withdrawal such as anxiety, mood swings and depression.

How Long Does It Last?

Those who are wondering how does methadone treatment work should make note that the longer an individual is on this treatment, the better the results. For some individuals, their dependency may not require methadone doses for more than a few months, while others may take methadone every day for the next several years, or even for the rest of their lives.

The seriousness of the addiction, and the individual’s likelihood of relapse will help to determine how long they’ll need to be treated.

Side Effects of Methadone Use

Some of the milder effects of methadone use can include drowsiness, constipation, dizziness and nausea. More severe side effects of methadone use can include impaired balance and coordination, poor focus and dependency.

Methadone remains in the body for long periods of time, which is why it is important that it is regulated by an addiction specialist. Results may not kick in for a few days after the first use, so users should be client and stick to the prescription given.


The success rates of methadone usages are usually higher, the longer that a person takes part in the treatment. This is because it can take a long time for the chemistry of the brain to change, and giving the methadone more time to reverse the effects of addiction results in a better chance of success.

Shorter programs make it more difficult to correct the changes, and relapse is common if the detox treatment hasn’t been applied for a long enough time.

Methadone is one of the many forms of treatment that can help to alleviate the symptoms associated with opioid addictions. Other forms of treatment that may be used in conjunction with methadone include group counseling, 12-step programs and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Consider the information provided to better understand how methadone treatment works.