Methadone Treatment for Long Term Addictions

Whether you are addicted to prescription opiates or street heroin, methadone treatment should be the last choice when seeking help for your opiate addiction. Many methadone treatment centers stipulate that a candidate needs to able to document at least three failed alternative treatments, before being accepted into a methadone maintenance therapy program. The reason for this is that you will still have a dependence on a synthetic opiate and must continue medication for a long period of time. If you have tried, repeatedly, to kick your addiction to opiates and failed each time, it may be time to give methadone treatment a serious try.

Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is used to curb the craving for heroin or other opiates. It blocks the euphoric feelings caused by opiates if you do use, but also allows you to function normally and helps you to maintain an opiate-free lifestyle.

Methadone works by attaching itself to the same receptors in the brain as do other opiates and pain killers.  Methadone does not produce the same sensations as opiates, but also does not leave you feeling physical cravings or intense withdrawal symptoms. It does help you to feel relatively normal and its effects last up to 24 hours, requiring only one daily dose. The effects remain stable so there is no need to continually increase dosage.

Methadone treatment is probably the best option for anyone who has been addicted for a prolonged period of time and who has tried and failed at other treatment options. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a miracle cure; it is still going to take serious work on your part to beat any addiction and the other social or behavioral problems that have accompanied it. Addiction becomes a lifestyle; being around others who are addicted or are regular users, thinking about it, talking about it, obtaining it and preparing it are as much a part of the addiction as the high. These are things that will need to be changed in order to do more than simply abstain from the drug.  If these behaviors are not effectively dealt with, the chances of relapse remain high enough to be considered off the scale. Many patients in methadone treatment programs are dropped from the programs because they do not follow protocols or because they get caught selling their methadone. It can be very difficult to get back into a program once expelled or denied.

 The Different Methadone therapies Available

If you are looking for a short term program, or a quick detox, there are programs designed to quickly take you down to a lower level of physical dependence, effectively lowering the amount of opiates you require on a daily basis. One type of program usually lasts about ten days and will lower the dosage your body needs but not wean you away from your addiction. This is useful if you are using prescription drugs, needing too much money to procure the amount of drug needed, or actually requiring more than your body can tolerate to maintain any level of comfort. These programs will offer you counseling, but generally will only recommend long term therapy and point you toward local NA meetings. Other programs can last from 30 days to six months, with the goal of being drug-free at the end of treatment. All programs provide counseling and follow-up services.

Long term programs will start you at a dose that will help you detox from opiates, then will find an optimum dose that will assist you to maintain a comfortable level of functioning for a long period of time. These programs will generally last a minimum of one year, and many are available for an indefinite period of time. There will be certain criteria that must be followed while in the program; such as regular urine tests; attending therapy sessions either individually or in groups; attending NA meetings regularly or finding and maintaining employment. Most clinics also offer group and individual counseling for your family members, support systems and significant others.

Most methadone clinics are outpatient clinics that will require you to come in daily for dosing and any other treatments or therapy. As you progress through the program, most clinics will eventually allow you to take your medication home; first your weekend medications and eventually progressing to monthly prescriptions.

If you are addicted to heroin or any other opiate, you must first honestly admit that your life is no longer in your control. If you are ready to take back control and make the changes necessary to accomplish this, you are already at the threshold of making a change for the better. If you have tried programs or treatment in the past and failed, it may be time to evaluate the need for methadone maintenance therapy. There are clinics across the country that can help you to beat the addiction that has taken over your life and your being. It takes dedication, perseverance and the willingness to make a real change in your life to succeed, but success is possible and a methadone maintenance therapy program may be the first step in your recovery process.

Some Drugs Help Addicts, But Bring New Problems of Their Own

Although methadone is a great tool for addicts struggling to escape the clutches of heroin, the powerful narcotic brings with it the danger of a new addiction to the methadone itself. The drug is administered by prescription in federally licensed clinics throughout the U.S. The government regulates it as a controlled substance.

In clinics patients receive specified amounts of the legal methadone so that they can leave behind their dependence on heroin and other illegal opiates. Methadone mimics the effects of heroin and when taken according to medical instructions, can help people leave behind their addictions to dangerous street drugs. Clinics work with their patients to ease them off the methadone gradually in order to avoid the long painful withdrawal from it if it is stopped too abruptly since methadone withdrawal can be even more difficult than withdrawal from heroin.

Methadone’s second major use for pain management means that general laws regarding controlled substances apply. When methadone is prescribed as a substitute for heroin and a way to wean addicts off illegal drugs, however, additional laws and regulations cover its use. Stringent laws are not enough to stem the growing tide of methadone addiction.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports a rise in the number of prescriptions for methadone as a pain-killer. It can be a godsend for those suffering from pain that cannot otherwise be controlled. Since more of the powerful opiate has found its way into the legal American market, its availability as a street drug has also increased.

People who take methadone on their own put their lives at risk. Government statistics show that since the late 1990s when methadone became popular as a prescription pain reliever, overdose deaths from the powerful medicine have increased. Medical professionals eager to help their patients manage their pain wrote some 531,000 methadone prescriptions in 1998.

This number grew to approximately 4.1 million by 2006. It is not unusual for a prescription medicine to move into the realm of street drug. Popularity of prescription pain medicines makes it much more likely that people will start to deal them on the illegal market.

Heroin in the 19th Century is a prime example. Doctors brought it into use for pain treatment. Extremely effective in its original use, its popularity increased dramatically and many people found themselves addicted to the opioid.

In the early 20th Century, morphine was used throughout the world for the treatment of pain and wounds. Raw opium is its main ingredient. Knowing that a major war was imminent and that Germany could be cut off from its opium imports, the German government encouraged its scientists to develop alternatives.

The German chemical company, I. G. Farben, created methadone in its laboratories in 1937 as a synthetic opiate, originally named Amidon. After Germany lost the war, all German patents were erased, and the United States made the drug available in 1947 as Dolophine. It gradually became known as methadone.

Today’s medical practitioners must be extremely cautious in the dosage amounts they give their patients. Its properties are different from other opioid drugs and ample research findings are available to help explain their significance. Most of the overdoses, however, come from patients who combine methadone with other drugs, or abuse the drug and take more than prescribed.

Street users who take methadone for non-therapeutic reasons run great risk of overdose. If they combine methadone with alcohol, for example, the combination in the blood stream can cause coma and death. Both substances affect the central nervous system, and when they enter the same body, they can alter breathing, overall metabolism and heart rate.

Methadone may be sold illegally in a blend with other illicit drugs such as tranquilizers. Dealers may mix in useless fillers or even dangerous substances. The unknown purity of the street version can led to medical crisis.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports a huge increase in items related to methadone use that have been seized in drug raids and from individual users and dealers. In 2001 some 2,865 items were taken into forensic labs for analysis. By 2007 the number had grown to 10,361, an increase of 262 per cent.

The deaths attributed to methadone overdose have varying circumstances. Although the presence of methadone is detected by autopsy, there are sometimes other substances present that combine to kill the user. Methadone prescribed in clinics is closely monitored, but the powerful medicine bought and sold in the streets can wreak havoc for too many.

Understanding the nature of this powerhouse of a medicine is a first step toward successful recovery from addiction. Methadone remains a great tool for addicts wanting to leave behind their dependence and addiction on street drugs. If someone becomes addicted to methadone bought illegally, help is available at the same clinics that prescribe the drug.