Methadone: A Powerful Addiction
Methadone Hydrochloride is an opioid or synthetic opiate. Methadone treatment was originally created for use as an analgesic, or painkiller, to treat severe pain.
Methadone treatment is still occasionally used for pain relief but is primarily used today for the treatment of narcotic addiction, aiding in detoxification of drugs such as heroin to counter withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone’s effects can last up to 36 hours, providing a longer-lasting alternative to morphine-based drugs. This allows for once-a-day administration for recovering heroin addicts using methadone in detoxification and maintenance programs.
Methadone usually appears in a liquid form that is swallowed. It is also prescribed in tablet form and as injectable ampoules. Like many other medicines, prescribed methadone sometimes becomes available illegally, leading to street use of methadone.
Methadone Addiction and Effects
When use is medically supervised, side-effects are generally minimal, although methadone brings the threat of the entire spectrum of opioid side effects, including tolerance and an excruciatingly powerful addiction.
Methadone addiction is one of the most powerful drug addictions, rendering the user completely dependent. Severe withdrawal symptoms prevent users from quitting cold turkey – patients report that it’s easier to quit heroin cold turkey than it is to kick a methadone addiction. Methadone addicts can suffer from extended post-acute withdrawal syndrome for many months.
Methadone is long-acting and can remain in the body for several days. Physical effects of methadone can include constipation, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, edema, suppressed cough reflex, contracted pupils, drowsiness, and hypotension or bronchospasms brought on by the histamines released by methadone. Respiratory depressions can be a threat. Female methadone users may not have regular menstruation but will still be able to conceive.
Once the initial effects of methadone use wear off, methadone withdrawal sets in for those who use methadone regularly, whether prescribed or not.
Withdrawal symptoms may begin with a nervous, jittery feeling. Next, come muscle contractures. One methadone user describes it as if his legs and arms are “like rubber bands, being stretched and pulled to their max and then constricting to a shape that isn’t natural”.
Users will tell you that withdrawal is unbearable. They may writhe and scream in pain, unable to stand or walk properly. Convulsions may cause them to fall over. Sweats, diarrhea, and hallucinations follow, and the methadone user is unable to think clearly. One user reported losing 7 pounds when he was unable to refill his methadone prescription and experienced withdrawal over a couple days. His withdrawal symptoms were relieved when he was able to obtain more of the drug. He comments on the desperation typically experienced when methadone withdrawal sets in: “When I was in the throes of withdrawal there’s not much I wouldn’t have done to relieve the symptoms.”
Recovery from methadone addiction must address the acute withdrawal symptoms over the long term.
A common danger of methadone addiction is an overdose. Symptoms of methadone overdose include:
Muscle spasticity throughout the body
Slow, shallow and labored breathing
Stopped breathing (sometimes fatal within 2-4 hours)
Bluish fingernails and lips
Spasms of the stomach and/or intestinal tract
Low blood pressure
Coma or death
Methadone Treatment in Drug Detoxification
Methadone detoxification treatment is often used in heroin detox programs. Although an extremely effective tool in removing heroin addiction and cravings, methadone use must be carefully monitored by health professionals.
It is critical that patients’ tolerance levels are accurately assessed to avoid administration of too high a dose when entering a methadone treatment program. Diseases such as hepatitis and pneumonia and the use of other drugs can complicate issues with methadone treatment, as well.
Upon entry to a detox program that requires methadone treatment, it is important to begin with a low dosage that can be increased slowly in the course of weeks or even months to treat heroin dependence. A tolerant methadone user can function normally with dosages that can be fatal to a non-tolerant person. However, the majority of methadone deaths occur from illicit use.
Drug Treatment for Methadone Addiction
Transitions Recovery drug treatment center offers hope for those suffering from methadone addiction and withdrawal.
Our professional drug treatment center staff is experienced in helping youth and people of all ages recover from drug and alcohol abuse. We provide a compassionate, supportive environment in our North Miami Beach, Florida, drug treatment center.
We work individually with methadone addiction patients as well as in group sessions and a Family Program, after methadone detoxification. Emphasis on recovery from methadone addiction and maintained sobriety helps prepare the patient for gradual re-entry into society.
Admissions can be accepted 7 days a week. Trained addiction professionals conduct individual assessments that address each individual’s treatment needs. You’ll find our methadone treatment programs offer access to a continuum of care that provides the intensity of therapy appropriate throughout each stage of methadone recovery, from extended residential care to lifetime aftercare services. The individual program incorporates leading forms of therapy that have proven effective in addressing underlying causes of drug use, dual diagnosis, and issues with family, employers, school and the legal system.
Methadone treatment does not need to be voluntary. Often, a family member, employer, or the court system can be the motivating factor for an individual receiving drug treatment for methadone.