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Methadone Study Reveals Social Reintegration is Important for those in Addiction Recovery

A new study surrounding the opioid drug methadone revealed an interesting fact about those who are in recovery for addiction. The study commissioned by the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Task Force revealed that drug users who take methadone for maintenance are able to live stable lives, but still face multiple obstacles to social reintegration.

The study focuses on examining the experiences of those who are taking methadone as a core part of their addiction treatment, particularly those who have been taking it for 10 or more years.

Many of the people receiving long-term methadone maintenance treatment first started using drugs at around the age of 14. But the average age that they first started using heroin was 19. And while methadone can work wonders in helping them keep their cravings under control, it does little to help them rebuild fractured relationships and social connections.

Complex obstacles to social reintegration are everywhere. For people who have never experienced addiction, or do not have a family member who is struggling with substance abuse, it can be difficult to see that the issue has a social aspect to it. This is yet another significant layer to an already complex problem.

The social stigma surrounding addiction is just as difficult to deal with as its physical and mental health effects. It affects a person’s relationships, it ruins their career, it burns bridges here and there—the social stigma even makes it difficult for addicted individuals to get the help they need.

Methadone treatment has proven effective in providing stability and structure to an addicted individual’s life. This goes a long way in maintaining sobriety and reestablishing control over one’s actions.

But the study shows that long-term users also need a range of social interventions and supports including education, training, housing, and family welfare. One can view it as something of equal importance to medical treatment and behavioral therapy.

Tackling the stigma can also address the problem. The opioid crisis that is currently affecting the nation has caused the number of overdose-related deaths to skyrocket—and it only proves that the issue should be managed like any other medical condition. People can get addicted to opioids even if it was only prescribed to them by their doctor. When misused, these potent substances can prove to be habit-forming.

Addiction treatment must be made more accessible for those who need it, especially in public clinic settings, experts say.

The study showed that methadone provides stability and structure for addicts. The one benefit of methadone is that it helps people live a normal life by maintaining stability. Even those who are struggling with addiction can do the things they enjoy. They can become productive again, and they can feel content and happy without taking mind-altering substances.

Eric, one of the participants in the study, says: “That’s the one good thing about methadone. If you’re stable, you can have somewhat of a normal life. I like the stability of methadone, I can just engage in family life, have a cup of tea and watch programs and just have a chat. Because before, I’d just stay in my room because I’d probably be stoned.”

The study revealed that the levels of social reintegration amongst the participants were exceptionally low. So in order to address this, breaking the stigma and allowing recovering people to reintegrate safely should be prioritized.

Other findings of the research include the fact that mental health problems were very common, and that depression was the most commonly cited condition. Some participants cited lifelong mental health conditions stemming from childhood.

If someone in the family is dealing with addiction, proper addiction treatment is necessary. Look for a nearby drug rehab facility and learn more about the process of recovery.


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