What is Methadone?
Methadone is an opiate pain reliever with a long-lasting effect. It has similar effects as other opioids, such as morphine or heroin, but it does differ chemically, and does not cause a “high” like other opiates do. The difference between those two opioids, and methadone is that its effects don’t last just a couple of hours, like in heroin or morphine. Its effects can last up to 59 hours. The effects depend mainly on the dose as well as the user’s tolerance to it.
Why is Methadone Used?
Methadone is commonly used as a pain reliever and is also incorporated in many drug abuse maintenance programs, known as methadone treatments. Its most common use is to treat heroin addiction. If given once a day, methadone helps ease the patient’s withdrawal for up to 36 hours, which highly decreases his or her chances of relapsing.
What is Methadone Addiction?
Addiction is a possible and common side effect of all opiates, including methadone. A lot of people in the medical community think of methadone addiction as a necessary and unavoidable part in the recovery of heroin addicts. A methadone addiction primarily develops because the drug helps ease any pain the user is feeling. With a longer period of use, the patient builds a tolerance to the drug and needs more of it to experience the same effect.
The main difference between methadone and heroin is the withdrawal period. Since methadone has a longer-lasting effect, and is a bit less potent, and does not elicit the same intense effect as heroin does. Methadone use does not lead to the same rapid highs, and intolerably crashing lows. Nevertheless, if you do abuse methadone and take exceedingly higher doses than those prescribed, it can lead to potentially dangerous effects.
In order to avoid the unwanted negative risks and side effects, you should always take the prescribed dosage, and make sure you’re under proper supervision so that you can minimize the withdrawal symptoms.
What Are the Signs of Addiction?
Methadone addiction manifests as a psychological craving for it. If you have the need to take methadone on a daily basis in order to deal with stress, you may have developed an addiction to it. That’s not the only sign you need to look for, as methadone addiction can also cause you to have diarrhea, headaches, vomiting and nausea, shooting pain, and slowed breathing.
Depression, anxiety and mania are also possible symptoms of methadone addiction, which can occur a day or two after you stop using the drug.
Side Effects of using Methadone
Be sure to read all labels, and consult your doctor or pharmacist so that you can be aware of the side effects of the medicines you take. Here are some of the more important side effects that might occur:
Consult your doctor if you need to change or lower your dosage. Do not quit using Methadone suddenly and without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first. Call your doctor or an ambulance if you experience: confusion, cold and clammy skin, restlessness, dizziness, drowsiness, troubled or slow breathing, increased sweating, slowed heartbeat or seizures.
Some of the more common side effects may include: dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting and nausea, and constipation.
Methadone treatment is also known as replacement therapy where methadone is administered throughout a longer period of time. The treatment is used to treat a person addicted to opioids, like heroin. The methadone treatment makes it possible for patients to take the first step toward social rehabilitation. Methadone works in a way that it helps addicts avoid the withdrawal symptoms that would be inevitable if they were to quit suddenly.
What does the Methadone Abuse Treatment include?
There are many methadone abuse treatments around the country, which makes the treatment easily accessible to everyone that needs it. If you feel confident and ready to end your methadone treatment, then it’s important to seek an evaluation and assistance from a professional substance abuse counselor to ease you into the next step of your journey.
The next part of your treatment will probably be detoxing. Detoxing reduces the substance levels in your body before you can become completely clean. If you feel like you need assistance dealing with the detox part, you can always seek supervision from a medical professional so that you can feel safe.
There are also many rehab programs available that might help provide you with a treatment by swapping methadone with other medication used for opioid dependencies, such as Subutex or Suboxone. You can build additional support by following a 12-step programs and meet other sober individuals that will help speed up your recovery process.
The controversies around the Methadone Treatments
The use of methadone in heroin addiction treatments has become a bit controversial recently. Methadone can cause the same if not a greater physical dependence than heroin can, which would make the methadone detox as much difficult as detoxing from heroin. Methadone withdrawal symptoms can be similar to those of heroin and sometimes even more severe. In addition, methadone overdose has the same danger of becoming fatal, as heroin overdose has. The truth is that methadone overdose is actually the fastest rising cause of drug death in the States.
The methadone withdrawal process is different for each individual, as well as its symptoms. It’s not uncommon to go into withdrawal if you have been taking the medicine for a longer period of time, or have started taking it more frequently. This means that you’ve built up a tolerance to methadone and will need to take more of it to have the same effects.
Once you become reliant on it to complete your daily activities, you have already become too dependent. If you decide to quit suddenly while in that condition, you will be more likely to see withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone withdrawal is a result of your body having to learn how to function properly without having methadone in its system. The recovery process may be quite difficult once your body’s functions begin going back to normal.
Here are some of the more common symptoms of methadone withdrawal you need to look for:
- Chills and Fever
- Anxieties, depression and paranoia
- Rapid heartbeat and sweating
- Muscle pain
- Stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
- Irritability and diarrhea
- Drug cravings
- Insomnia and hallucinations
The withdrawal symptoms may become more severe, and last longer if the user is addicted to more than one substance.