The Importance of Counseling in a Methadone Treatment Program


By John Lee

Methadone is a potent medication that can take away drug cravings and symptoms of opiate withdrawal. People who get an appropriate daily dose of methadone are likely to avoid relapse, as methadone has proven to work better than anything else in keeping people from the abuse of illicit opiates.

As well as this medication works, though, it’s no magic solution, and those most likely to avoid relapse make use of other recovery resources as well, such as:

  • Participation in group counseling sessions
  • Involvement in other support group meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Working individually with a counselor in the community, to augment the recovery counseling offered in the methadone clinic

Methadone will limit your cravings, but you’ll have to fix the damage done socially, professionally and physically as a result of your opiate abuse. Methadone can keep you focused and strong, but you’ll have to get your life back on track on your own – and counseling can offer you support as you do this.

The Benefits of Group Counseling 

Participating in group counseling offered at your methadone clinic can help minimize your odds of relapse. Through participation in counseling sessions you can:

  • Learn about community recovery resources, such as NA programs or other support groups
  • Learn how to deal with sudden problems or emergencies that arise without resorting to drug use (and learn how others deal with these situations)
  • Learn how to access other support organizations, such as those offering child care and legal or medical services
  • Learn to set and achieve treatment goals
  • Learn relapse prevention skills
  • Learn specific techniques (through skills groups) such as anger or stress management
  • Learn more about the disease of addiction

By interacting with and learning from others in similar situations, you can benefit from the wisdom of a group of people who are going through comparable experiences. Through group counseling, you’ll know you’re not alone in your struggles and that others who face similar challenges can persevere and achieve lasting recovery.

The Benefits of Individual Counseling

Some methadone clinics offer individual counseling, but methadone maintenance patients may want to supplement by working with a community counselor (health workers at your local clinic can recommend suitable therapists).

Some of the benefits of working one-on-one with a counselor include:

  • Getting advice and assistance in navigating a new life free from substance abuse. As this often means a new social group, employment changes and a different living situation, stressors will arise that can threaten recovery.
  • Learning better communication and interpersonal skills
  • Learning to cope with past traumas
  • Learning healthy ways to resolve family conflicts
  • Learning to recognize warning signs of relapse
  • Keeping your motivation strong by crystallizing your reasons for quitting
  • Receiving advice and support in navigating the legal or medical system to get needed services

Methadone will give you the strength and stability to rebuild a life derailed by addiction. Most people benefit from counseling as they strive to get their life back on the right track.

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