Methods for modifying behaviour -Agonist and antagonist substitution

  • Created by: Maya98
  • Created on: 30-05-17 17:54

Methods for modifying behaviour -Agonist and antagonist substitution


  • Effectiveness of methadone as a substitute drug - Nice assessed 31 reviews. Found higher levels of retention for people using methadone when compared to placebo
  • As long as dosage is adequate then methadone is effective as a maintenance treatment (Van De Brink et al)
  • Buprenophine has a lower risk of overdose 'ceiling effect'
  • Buprenophine is 6 times safer than methadone (Marteau et al)
  • This drug treatment is safer for the individual, they do not experience the withdrawal symptoms and therefore in theory will be less likely to return to the drug.
  • Taking one of the substitutions is good because it means that the individual can return to a normal way of life. They do not have to suffer with the withdrawal symptoms, and they are not under the influence of drugs.
  • can return to work, school and can function in society again
  • treating heroin users with methadone has an immediate positive effect on society by reducing criminality (national treatment agency)


  • methadone can interact with other drugs (e.g. alcohol and antidepressants) and cause respiratory problems.
  • danger of overdose if addict combines methadone with other drugs
  • in long term all methadone does is replace one addiction in the another, doesn't get to the root cause of the initial addiction
  • described as an 'expensive failure'. it costs society money for the methadone and for the 320,000 problem drug users on benefits
  • By setting up methadone clinics there is a risk that addicts and users will congregate in one area and people are concerned that there will be an increase in crime and antisocial behaviour.
  • only really helps with alcohol and drug addiction. This treatment would not work for problem gamblers or internet addicts. Therefore is only helping a specific type of addiction.


By considering both the advantages and disadvantages of using agonist and antagonist as a treatment for addiction I believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The effectiveness of substitutes such as methadone or naltrexone is by far more advantageous than risks of side effects, especially when the individuals that it would be helping would experience far worse by taking cannabis or heroin. It is much safer for the individual as methadone is administered under professional  supervision. Furthermore, the price paid for the set up of methadone clinics is lower than the cost of medical treatment for over dosage  and other health issues related to drug or alcohol addiction. Therefore, I believe that it is a useful treatment for addiction, however only for substance addiction. More research needs to be conducted into other possible treatments for behavioural  addiction such as gambling.  


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