Four years into methadone maintenance, I still didn’t think it was a bad thing. I still had no concept of addiction or that I myself may be an addict. In time, I realized I needed it the same way I needed heroin and that it had me in its grips.
Methadone as A Way Out
But it didn’t start out that way. I had only began using opiates maybe six months prior to discovering methadone as a way to curb my physical addiction. When I first used heroin for a few months, I took a trip to Europe with my friends. I had no idea how bad the withdrawal would be. I spent the first week in Dublin rolling around in a bed, sweating, promising myself I would never touch opiates again. It was the beginning of my 4 year-ride.
When I got back, I was inevitably strung out again within a month. But I vowed to never go through the hell of withdrawal that I had experienced in Ireland. After a few more months my friend told me about methadone. For a very modest amount of money, I could detox avoid my withdrawals. I signed up for a 21-day methadone detoxification program. Get on methadone, quit opiates. That was the plan.
Methadone and the Vicious Cycle
After 19 days I used again. I was almost done with the detox, but I felt like as long as I didn’t get myself strung out I didn’t need methadone any longer. One more month after using every day I went back to the methadone clinic. This time I signed up for maintenance. That meant I wasn’t tapering my dose, I was staying at the same amount. This would go on for another four years.
The dose I was at let me still get high from heroin, but never suffer from the pain of withdrawals. It was worth the $150 a month for me to be able to use heroin at my leisure. I went so far as to move next to a methadone clinic two years into it. I could walk down the street in the morning, dose and then go to work. In my head, this was perfect.
Methadone is a Drug
Until I learned about the fact that how I use drugs is what made me an addict, I had no idea I was treating methadone like a drug. I thought it was helping me, right up until the day I stopped using it. In fact, the only reason I had ever stopped using it was to increase the high I would get from heroin.
What I didn’t realize was that I was under the perception that I needed it. That every day that passed where I didn’t get my dose I was uncomfortable, ornery and snappish. Even if I didn’t feel the withdrawals I perceived that they were there. Methadone was my master and it never helped me, not even once.
I do think that methadone has helped some people. But for an addict like me, we use it as a crutch. I may have told myself that I would use it to get clean, but that never ended up being the case. I would be never suggest methadone maintenance to anybody. Even though total abstinence may be more difficult, at the very least it is rooted in hope.