Methadone As Treatment For Dependency

Ask anyone with a dependency problem and they will tell you how life-altering this ailment is.  For those addicted to opioid narcotics, health can suffer as well as work, family, and personal relationships.  Detoxification is the first step in recovery, and often the reason for failure or relapse.  Detoxification comes with many serious withdrawal symptoms, and those who attempt this process alone are often unable to complete it.  Detoxification can be aided with the help of medications designed to alleviate or eliminate withdrawal symptoms.  By making withdrawal symptoms tolerable, it erases the fear involved with this process and raises the chance for winning the battle against addiction.  Methadone is a medication that has been used since the 1960’s to help thousands overcome addiction.  It allows for a slow detox with minimal withdrawal.

When drug abuse is mentioned, we often think of street drugs like heroin and cocaine, but illegal drugs are not the only threat for dependency.  For those suffering from illnesses or chronic injury, pain can be long-term and require pain medication.  Doctors often prescribe pain medications like hydrocodone to alleviate pain.  This medication, depending on the severity and of pain, will likely be taken for an extended period.  Opioid prescription narcotics taken for lengthy periods can lead to addiction.  The effectiveness of pain medication can wane over time, so many will begin to take too much pain medication, or take it frequently against physician advice.  Some will end up with an addiction problem without recognizing the signs.

Methadone works by blocking euphoria from medications.  This makes getting “high” difficult or impossible.  It also decreases withdrawal symptoms and the need for the drug.  This is a potent medication and those taking it must be monitored closely by a doctor.  It can be taken in pill or liquid form and is long acting so it is typically a once a day medication.

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and rapid detoxification usually means increased symptoms.  These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, pain, tremors, shakes and itching.  This is not a complete list of symptoms and it is easy to see how detoxification can be a scary process.  Methadone is beneficial in many ways.  First, since it is only taken once a day, this eliminates the need carry the medication with you throughout your day.  It affords privacy by eliminating the need for several doses per day.  If you do not want to let friends or employers know about drug dependency, this medication makes following your normal routine possible.  Since withdrawal symptoms are controlled, working and socializing maintain a possibility.  Severe withdrawal means temporarily withdrawing from life, but Methadone makes this unnecessary.  Drug users are susceptible to HIV and hepatitis via needles or decreased inhibitions and unprotected sex.  Methadone controls the need for the drug, therefore decreasing potentially dangerous behaviors.

Methadone carries its own risk for addiction since it is also an opioid narcotic.  This is usually not a concern if the medication is used properly.  Methadone also has the potential for some side effects, as most medications do.  These side effects range from mild to severe and are usually not a problem.  The more severe side effects, like allergic reaction, require immediate attention.  The mild to moderate side effects include decreased appetite, insomnia, sweats, constipation, irregular periods and nausea.  Moderate signs include vomiting, rash, abdominal pain and water retention.  These symptoms become concerning if ongoing or increasing in severity.  Immediate medical attention should be sought for difficulty breathing, rash, wide pupils, muscle aches and pain, chronic severe headaches, itching or hives.  It is important for nursing mothers to know this drug or any drug can be passed through breast milk, so discuss with a doctor if nursing a child.  This should not stop anyone from taking Methadone, as side effects are rare.  The risk of remaining dependent on opioids is life-threatening and a higher risk than taking Methadone to defeat addiction.

Methadone can only be prescribed by a doctor and those taking it should be closely watched by a doctor.  This medication needs to be taken as prescribed as addiction is possible.  Even though this medication blocks the “high” felt by other medications, it can initially produce a mild euphoria.  This may cause some to increase the dose in an attempt to obtain this feeling more often.  This is potentially dangerous because it can slow breathing long after the medication is taken.  This medication will likely be taken for several months and up to a year, and cannot be stopped abruptly.  A gradual decrease of Methadone is best to avoid side effects.  This increases the likelihood of success and remaining drug-free.  A life without dependency means better health, increased life expectancy, increased work functionality and repaired relationships.  With the use of Methadone, beating addiction is not only possible but it can be done without withdrawal signs and symptoms.