Methadone replacement for heroin addiction is one treatment option but is this treatment effective or is the user simply trading one drug addiction for another? Methadone is a powerful opioid narcotic, similar to heroin in a number of ways, and methadone replacement may be provided by a physician for someone who has a heroin addiction and can not seem to stay off the drug. The goal of this treatment is not to keep the user high but to minimize the withdrawal symptoms so that the user does not go back to abusing heroin. Withdrawals from heroin can feel like a very bad case of the flu, with physical symptoms that can include body aches, severe nausea, vomiting, and other flu like symptoms. During severe withdrawals many heroin addicts go back to the drug just to stop the symptoms of withdrawal.
Methadone treatment for heroin addiction can help the individual avoid heroin use, but methadone can also be addictive and many programs keep the patient on this drug for months or even years. During the initial intake and consultation the individual is given small doses of methadone periodically, and then they are monitored for withdrawal symptoms. The goal is to calculate a daily dose of methadone that does not get the user high but that provides a sufficient amount of opiate in the system so that severe withdrawal symptoms are eliminated. The problem is that eventually the methadone must be stopped, and this may not be until an addiction to this drug has developed as well.