Methadone Maintenance Treatment
Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) is a long-term treatment
program for people who are addicted to opiates, primarily heroin. MMT has
been used to fight opiate addiction since the 1950s, and it remains at the
forefront of advanced Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program
options. In fact, methadone set the parameters for evidence-based MAT to
begin with. And it’s still one of the most advanced evidence-based
medications available to fight opiate addiction.
Methadone comes in pill, liquid or wafer forms and is administered once a
day by a licensed medical practitioner in an office-based or clinical setting.
As with all MAT medicines, methadone can only be dispensed by a
SAMHSA-certified Opioid Treatment Provider (OTP). Once a patient’s MMT
program has stabilized however, they may be issued “take home” doses for
use between clinic visits.
The tremendous amount of worldwide research on MMT has concluded that:
- MMT significantly reduces drug injecting and consequently the transmission of HIV and
- MMT significantly reduces the risk of opioid overdose, as well as the death
rate associated with opioid dependence
- MMT significantly reduces criminal activity by
opioid users, and allows them the stability to pursue and undertake work, education and
familial opportunities and obligations.
MMT is especially helpful for longer-addicted patients and/or those who’ve
found little or no success in abstinence-based treatment programs. That’s
largely because methadone not only eliminates the adverse effects of
opiate withdrawal, but it also curbs the cravings associated with prolonged
MMT is most effective when it includes comprehensive education,
counseling and/or therapy (one-and-one and/or group), as well as
significant social support. In other words, MMT is best applied as part of a
full service Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program.
In 2004, MMT was endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United
Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The three agencies concurred
that MMT sparked substantial reductions in illicit use of heroin and other
opiates. The global trio also found MMT significantly reduced criminal
activity, overdose deaths and HIV/AIDS transmission in all opioid
Furthermore, a brief filed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Administration (SAMHSA) strongly advocated for states across America to
increase the availability of evidence-based MAT programs, especially in
criminal justice settings. Why? Because including the criminal justice
system as a path to recovery would increase treatment access and
retention, as well as lower the rates of overdoses and recidivism.