Methadone has three medical uses: pain control, maintenance and detox.
In maintenance programs, the addict is given measured doses of a less-intoxicating drug that will allow him or her to function better — take care of business, hold down a job, etc.
While this form of treatment, using Methadone, is popular due to government programs, most addiction professionals consider it unacceptable, as it does nothing to help the person recover from the addiction. The methadone, itself an addictive drug, simply keeps the brain accustomed to the presence of drugs, and does nothing to remove either the need for them or the craving. Put simply, the addict remains an addict — still dependent on drugs in order to function. Combine, with the foregoing, the fact that it is quite possible to get high on Methadone itself, or use it to maintain in between bouts of using other opiates, and you can see that it is not all that it’s cracked up to be by the folks with vested economic and bureaucratic interest in its continued use.
Methadone detox is likewise undesirable. At best, an opiate addict has an uncomfortable time in detox. Methadone itself has a longer and more difficult detox than heroin and most other opiates. That means tapering someone off on Methadone will take longer and, if the detox protocol is not followed precisely, the patient is likely to go into full-blown withdrawal. The most common result of that is relapse to the drug of choice.
The bare fact of the matter is that heroin itself is a better choice than Methadone for detox, but it is not legal to use it that way.
The most effective, safest detox protocol is a medically-supervised inpatient program using Suboxone. Opiate detox with Suboxone, properly done, is far shorter and more effective than with other substances, due to its narcotic agonist/antagonist action. The likelihood of relapse is substantially reduced over other drugs and methods, provided that the patient really wants to remain clean.
Having said that, we must caution against the outpatient Suboxone detox that has become widely available in the US and other countries. Outpatient detox is rarely effective, and the doctors providing it are usually not trained in detox procedures. Many of them are storefront operations that, essentially, get the patients hooked on Suboxone and continue to administer it, rather than detoxing the patient and assisting them in finding further help.