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Will Methadone Treatment Still Work If I’ve Relapsed in the Past?

Many people enter opiate addiction treatment with the intention of “kicking the habit” once and for all. While it is possible to overcome the effects of opiate addiction in one’s life, more often than not, it takes longer than expected. In effect, the likelihood of relapse runs quite high considering the damaging effects these drugs have on the brain and body.

Opiate addiction’s effects most play out inside the behaviors and choices a person makes from day to day. While methadone treatment works well at reducing physical discomforts, a person’s mindset ultimately determines his or her success at maintaining continued abstinence. For these reasons, relapse episodes can happen at any given time regardless of the type of treatment being administered. Albeit so, methadone treatment can still be of benefit even after a person experiences a relapse.

Relapse Potential

Chronic opiate addiction essentially warps the brain’s chemical system, creating a diseased chemical environment. According to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, these conditions give rise to the destructive thinking and behavior that characterizes compulsive drug-using activities.

Relapsed in the Past

Methadone can help alleviate the depression and anxiety that often accompany opiate withdrawal.

With continued drug use, a person develops an addiction-based lifestyle where his or her thinking, emotions and behaviors also work to promote ongoing drug use. Ultimately, it’s the psychological aftereffects of addiction that leave a person at high risk of relapse in recovery.

As a general rule, the more severe the addiction the greater the impact on a person’s thinking, emotions and behaviors. Those who most benefit from methadone treatment usually have extensive histories of chronic opiate abuse.

By the time a person enters treatment, the brain requires some level of physical support to function normally or else a person remains at high risk of relapse. The addiction-based lifestyle also remains well intact, influencing a person’s behavioral tendencies and emotional well-being. As methadone treatment entails a medication and psychosocial component, it treats both the physical and psychological aftereffects of addiction.

Re-Entering Methadone Treatment

While relapse may feel like failure, it often becomes a turning point for people in recovery in terms of realizing how powerful a force addiction can be. More often than not, a relapse episode develops out of addiction-based thinking and behavior patterns. While methadone does help alleviate physical discomfort, it’s equally important to apply the principles learned in therapy and 12 Step support group work in order to give yourself the best chance at continued abstinence from drug use.

According to the Journal of Addictive Diseases, if a person continues to experience intense drug cravings, ongoing feelings of depression and/or anxiety, methadone treatment can still be of benefit. Otherwise, not having this necessary treatment support in place only sets the stage for another relapse episode to occur.

Relapse After Treatment: The Increased Risk of Opium Overdose


It’s not uncommon for people in methadone treatment to have gone through multiple rounds of drug treatment in the past with methadone being the treatment of last resort. Methadone’s treatment benefits lie in its ability to support the brain’s weakened state, which better equips a person to manage the challenges of recovery. A past relapse episode does not negate the brain’s ongoing need for support.

If you or someone you know is considering methadone treatment after an untimely relapse episode and have more questions, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 888-959-0638 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.

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