Addiction Treatment for Methadone
For some people who have struggled with addictions to opioid drugs – either pharmaceutically prescribed or found illicitly on the streets – methadone has been useful in helping them restore a sense of stability to their lives. Unfortunately, for many others, addiction to methadone only chains them to the pharmaceutical industry and, in many cases, creates a cycle of addiction much more serious than the addiction they were trying to get over.
Methadone is notorious for its potency and the long, drawn-out and difficult withdrawal period that one must go through when they stop using methadone. In this article, we’re going to outline some tips and techniques that will help you or your loved ones put methadone behind you forever.
What’s Methadone? Why is it So Bad?
Methadone is a drug that’s been used since the middle of the 20th century as an opioid replacement medication. Opioid replacement drugs, which also include buprenorphine (Suboxone), are drugs that are medically prescribed in an effort to help someone wean themselves off of opioid drugs and return to a normal life.
That doesn’t sound so bad until you recognize that these opioid ‘replacement’ drugs are actually opioids themselves. Plus, they’re a lot more potent than most of the opioids you’ll find on your own – illicitly or otherwise. So what does this mean? It means that if you take a drug like methadone, even as prescribed, you’re probably going to end up with a worse addiction than you had before.
What are the Side Effects of Methadone?
In addition to risks of methadone addiction, methadone carries a serious risk of both long-term and short-term side effects. The list of methadone’s side effects is actually often longer and more intensive than those caused by the drugs people are using methadone to avoid, such as heroin or fentanyl.
SHORT-TERM SIDE EFFECTS
- Difficulty urinating
- Gastrointestinal issues (nausea, vomiting)
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty reaching orgasm or maintaining erection
- Respiratory depression
- Change of heart beat
- Difficulty sleeping, or excessive sleepiness
- Weight gain
- Suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Serious short-term side effects which are less likely to occur but are still possible include:
- death from overdose
LONG-TERM SIDE EFFECTS
Long-term side effects of methadone can cause permanent damage. These can include:
- Damage to the nerves
- Injury to the liver
- Damage to the marrow of the bones
- Long-term cognitive problems
Methadone Addiction & Dependency
It’s also important to consider methadone addiction and methadone dependency, which will arise with the repeated use of methadone. These aren’t necessarily considered side effects – they are a guaranteed part of using methadone. If you get addicted to methadone, you’ll have to go through the withdrawal phase before you’re able to get clean.
Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Chills and hot flashes
- Crawling skin
- Inability to enjoy pleasure
- Enhanced pain sensitivity
Methadone withdrawal is protracted and tends to last quite a long time. These symptoms will usually last for at least a week and can last for up to a month.
How Can I Stop Using Methadone?
If you have already been prescribed methadone, the best thing for you to do is try to stop using it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy to do. Any doctor prescribing methadone should develop a usage plan with their patients. Many doctors, however, don’t do this.
There are a few things to remember that can help you stop using methadone:
- Methadone is intended to be used temporarily, at the lowest possible doses, to help somebody get themselves off of opioids.
- Methadone should be weaned off. This means you should gradually decrease your dose until you’re taking next-to-nothing before you stop taking it entirely. This will get your brain and body accustomed to having minimal amounts of methadone in your body.
It’s fairly common for some addicts to need medical supervision when they’re detoxing from methadone. This service will keep you under medical care for the duration of your withdrawal and can sometimes provide you with medication to help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. (Though of course, that is yet another addiction risk you take if you choose to use those medications.)
If you are going to attempt to stop taking methadone without medical supervision, then it’s absolutely vital that you bring your dose down to as little as possible. Doing this will likely bring some discomfort, but this discomfort will be a small price to pay in comparison to attempting to manage full-blown withdrawal on your own.
Danger of Methadone Is Underestimated
Methadone, which is commonly heralded by the medical community as a great drug for quitting opioids, is actually an opioid itself and is very dangerous. Methadone is notorious for causing some of the most severe and protracted withdrawals of the opioid family. In fact, methadone withdrawal is one of the worst withdrawals of all drugs.
Fortunately, with the right knowledge and determination, you can stop using methadone. You might need some help from medically trained people, but it’s possible to free yourself from those methadone chains. Good luck!