October 24, 2017

Negative attitudes towards the use of methadone are common among patients, their doctors, their families, and their peers, as well as in most 12-step programs.[1]Methadone treatment’s negative stigma may prevent those that would benefit from methadone from seeking treatment. “Stigma” means rejection or disgrace, which many patients feel they will suffer if they choose to seek methadone treatment. This stigma may cause friends, family, and other addicts to look down on those who choose methadone treatment, preventing them from receiving the treatment’s full benefits. [2] Patients often feel that they have to hide their use of methadone from others, and have trouble gaining social acceptance in their communities and among other addiction patients.[3]

Why is there a negative stigma associated with Methadone?

Methadone is perceived by many as “substituting” one addiction for another. Methadone treatment is only provided in special addiction clinics, separated from the rest of healthcare, which may contribute to its stigma. This separation may also serve to distance methadone from the medical model of understanding addiction as an illness rather than as a moral failing.[4]

Patients, their families, and their communities could benefit from greater acceptance of methadone treatment’s proven benefits in reducing illicit opioid use and its negative consequences. [5]


[1] Frank, D. (2011). “The trouble with morality: the effects of 12-step discourse on addicts’ decision-making.” J Psychoactive Drugs 43(3). 245-256.

[2] Frank, D. (2011).

[3] Etesam, F., Assarian, F., Hosseini, H., & Ghoreishi, F. S. (2014.) Stigma and its determinants among male drug dependents receiving methadone maintenance treatment. Arch Iran Med. Feb 17(2). 108-14.

[4] PCSS-MAT.

[5] Frank, D. (2011).