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Does Age Matter in Methadone Treatment?

old and young people walking

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with methadone has decades of use in the field of addiction care. It relieves the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that occur during recovery to help patients focus on their goals. Methadone maintenance has high success rates, and individual traits can raise a patient’s chance of achieving their goals.

Opioid and Substance Use Disorder by Age Group

According to SAMHSA, certain age groups over 18 have higher risks of substance use than others. Young adults between ages 18 and 20 make up the group with the highest rate of substance abuse. Meanwhile, the second-largest group consists of adults between 21 and 25. Both of these populations have about a 20 percent rate of substance misuse, putting them at high risk of addiction to drugs like opioids. Meanwhile, an older adult’s risk of substance misuse drops to six percent once they turn 60 years old.

Can Age Impact Methadone Maintenance Results?

In addition to impacting a person’s risk of addiction, age has a connection to methadone-based MAT’s success rates. Studies have found that older patients have a higher chance of success with methadone treatment than younger patients. At nine months post-treatment admission, 61 percent of patients age 55 or older had no positive urine drug screens, compared to just 35 percent of younger patients. Older patients also stayed in treatment longer and were less likely to report current heroin use.

The age that someone starts using opioids may also affect their methadone treatment results. Since people who began later in their lives have a shorter history with opiates, they could have less difficulty adjusting to new behaviors.

The average age of an opioid use disorder patient rises every year. We have yet to see if this means overall recovery success rates or rates by age group will change. No matter the outcome, addiction professionals will need to account for a patient’s age during treatment. The field also needs more research to understand why older adults have higher success rates than younger ones.

It’s important to remember, however, that despite differences in methadone maintenance results for different age groups, MAT with methadone can be effective for anyone who is compliant with their program and actively participates in their recovery.

Other Factors That Affect Methadone Recovery Chances

Many other characteristics have a role to play in someone’s chance of a successful recovery, including:

  • History and frequency of opioid use
  • Emotional, psychiatric and social health
  • Job stability
  • Support networks including family, friends and others in recovery

Since addiction impacts every aspect of life, it makes sense that multiple parts of life affect recovery. Your MAT medical provider and counselor will discuss risk factors you may experience and help you find ways to manage them.

Everyone Has a Different Journey to Sobriety

While age can change a patient’s chance of committing to treatment, we want to stress that everyone has a different experience. Some patients will relapse, but they can re-engage with treatment to work toward recovery. You will have different difficulties to face than other patients, but you will also find your own ways to manage them.

Methadone-Based Medication-Assisted Treatment at MedMark Treatment Centers

MedMark Treatment Centers serves patients across the United States by offering MAT programs with methadone and buprenorphine. We offer emotional and social support as patients proceed through treatment. Our team believes in addressing the whole person in an environment built on respect and dignity. To schedule an intake appointment or to learn more, we welcome you to contact us. Please complete our online form or call our office at 866-840-6658 today.

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