Are people on Methadone “clean”?

I’ve encountered this debate several times while attending meetings and support groups and I have to say, it kind of irritates me.  I’ve watched entire one hour meetings get totally wasted by the back and forth arguing that this topic seems to cause.  So.. ARE people that use maintenance treatment programs clean?  Before I give my opinion I have to say that I have problems with the question itself.  Mainly, the word ‘clean’ is what bugs me about this.  I think if we worded the question differently like, are people on methadone maintenance in treatment?  The answer would be obvious… yes!  Are people that are in treatment, not using drugs but, addicted to some other behavior or object considered ‘clean’?  I don’t use drugs any more but would I consider myself clean?  Not really, personally… I consider ‘clean’ to be the end destination of treatment so, when I’m ready to live my life without any further addiction treatment I will consider myself clean.  That includes caffeine, emotional eating, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, etc.  So, in my opinion, I don’t think people on maintenance programs are clean… but also, in my opinion; i don’t think that’s the important issue here.  I think that the value of methadone and Suboxone maintenance is that it provides physical stability so that the addict can start addressing the underlying causes of addiction.  However, I must warn those addicts that take this path; building your recovery on a foundation made of methadone or Suboxone is risky.  Unless you intend on staying on maintenance for the rest of your life, then eventually you’re going to have to experience the physical withdrawal symptoms and that will shake your recovery to the core if done incorrectly.  That’s what happened to me a few years ago.  I was paying for methadone out of pocket and had worked my way down to 13 mg and thought I could skip a few steps and not fall… well I was wrong.  It led to a relapse and a lot of regrets.


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