Methadone addiction is a growing problem in the United States. The opiate-based drug made its first appearance in the US in 1947 as a pain reliever. It soon became an often-used ingredient in helping people get off of heroin, but poses its own risk of dependence. Despite its presence in the US an an addiction treatment medication, methadone is often diverted for street use and poses serious risk of overdose and even death.
Methadone is a synthetic drug which means it’s a man-made chemical; it can be obtained as a tablet or in liquid form. Methadone’s pharmacological effects last longer than other opiate drugs so they usually only have to be administered once daily for heroin addiction treatment (multiple doses may be required for pain relief).
As with other opiates the tolerance and dependence to methadone increases over time and repeated use. So, despite its laudatory qualities as a pain reliever, methadone is one of the toughest drugs to stop using. When a decision is made to go off the drug, the dependence may have to be first treated by detoxification. Withdrawal symptoms can cause pain and much discomfort during a detox program which is why it is best administered in a medically supervised environment.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a 2006 advisory, suggested that Methadone used for pain control could result in death and life threatening changes in heartbeat and breathing. These debilitating situations were also reported for patients who switched to Methadone after being treated for pain relief using other narcotic pain relievers.
One of the aspects of Methadone problems pointed out by the advisory is that Methadone can cause dangerous changes in the heartbeat and slow or shallow breathing that might not be felt by the user.
More severe than those of morphine or heroin, Methadone withdrawals last for a long time. That’s one reason it’s very difficult to break free from dependence on the drug. The withdrawal symptoms include irritability, pale and clammy skin, thoughts of suicide, insomnia, sweating, body aches, muscle cramping, back aches, leg kicking, vomiting, nausea, increased blood pressure, anxiety, chills, and much more. It’s a physical smorgasbord of symptoms which can also include a decrease in the ability of the body to produce the appropriate amounts of testosterone and estrogen.
Traditionally, Methadone has been used to help heroin dependent drug abusers get off of that drug. This is done via highly regulated Methadone clinics. In addition to the daily methadone dosage, sometimes psychological treatment is provided. Often, though, it is not, which can decrease the possibility of success of the drug treatment.
At times other drugs, like Suboxone, may be used to get a person struggling with Methadone to become less dependent on the drug.
No matter what treatment is decided upon for a Methadone addiction, it requires the intervention of an experienced drug addiction staff. It also is best that the process be medically supervised.
Call the trained professionals at Recovery First if you’ve gotten in over your head with Methadone. A personalized drug treatment program will be developed that will get you completely and more importantly – safely, off of the drug. Call us now or use the verification form to the right of this page to check your insurance for drug rehab.