Methadone Fights Addiction, Helps in Other Ways Too

The powerful drug methadone not only helps those addicted to heroin and morphine leave their drug abuse behind, it also has additional health benefits. Recent studies show that methadone  helps reduce the risk of HIV transmission among drug users. The British Medical Journal reported that people who inject drugs (PWID) benefit from treatment with methadone in more ways than one.

It does substitute for opiate injections and helps reduce cravings for more dangerous drugs since it mimics opiates’ stimulus to the brain without providing as powerful a high as street drugs such as heroin. At the same time, its use can supplant injections and thus reduce the risks of transmitting HIV by contaminated needles. Methadone as a substitute for opiates improves the health of those taking it.

The researchers concluded that drug-related deaths decreased when drug users were prescribed methadone. It has become hugely popular and reliable as a treatment of choice for chronic drug abusers and addicts. The reduction of HIV transmission is a bonus not originally considered when methadone first came into widespread use.

Incidence of HIV in drug injectors who live in countries where opiate substitution therapy is illegal showed to be measurably higher than in those who reside in countries where methadone and other substitutes can be prescribed. Worldwide statistics show that approximately 5-10 percent of HIV infections come about because of injection of drugs. AIDS is also higher in parts of the world where drug substitution treatment is highly restricted.

Health care professionals most often prescribe methadone or buprenorphine as substitutes for illegal opiates such as heroin and morphine. The substitutes are generally given in treatment centers, clinics, and physicians’ offices. They affect similar parts of the brain and help ease the addict off the street drug without the harsh symptoms of drug withdrawal.

The recent research on methadone’s effectiveness in helping to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS resulted from a collaboration of scientists from several different countries. Researchers from the U.S., Australia, Italy and Canada reviewed available literature, then pooled their analyses. They studied work from their own countries as well as from the Netherlands, Austria, Puerto Rico, Thailand and China.

The work focused on the connection between opiate substitution therapy and HIV transmission. Researchers selected nine studies that concentrated mostly on male injection drug users between the ages of 26 and 39. Among the study group, there were 819 HIV infection transmissions. The study covered a time period of 23,608 total person years of study.

Analysis showed that opiate substitutes such as methadone were linked to a 54 percent decrease in HIV infection risk among drug users used to injecting their fixes. Since the data came from nations around the world, there was some variation in the individual studies. This disallowed an exact result.

Nonetheless, the study was strong enough to show a clear-cut link between methadone use substituted for opiate injection and a reduction in HIV. Medical workers around the world were given another solid reason for recommending methadone treatment to injection drug users as a way to kick the habit and get healthier.

The research seemed to suggest that longer-term use of methadone results in an even lower risk of HIV transmission among former needle drug users. Commentators on the research have spoken out strongly in favor of opiate substitution therapies as a way to curb the growing number of HIV infections spread by needle users. This seems to be the case in all parts of the world.

Other research has suggested that methadone may have benefits in treatment resistant forms of cancer. There will be years of further study ahead, but preliminary studies show that methadone can fight leukemia cells. The professional journal Cancer Research published the report that provided a little hope to patients with cancer that is no longer responding to radiation and chemotherapy.

One of the study’s authors commented that methadone was shown to kill sensitive leukemia cells. It was also shown to break through cancer treatment resistance that has built up in cancer cells. It seemed to go after the cancer without damaging healthy cells untouched by cancer.

Researchers are reluctant to give false hope to people with cancer. They stress that this report is preliminary. Yet it does offer hope for the possibly near future.

Proponents of methadone are naturally pleased that the opiate substitute may have wider applications in the field of medicine well beyond its prime use as a helper in the fight against drug addiction.

In recent years methadone has come under attack for its possibly harmful side effects in those who take it for extended periods. As with almost every drug or medicine, problems show up after the using population has grown large enough that trends can be observed. Nonetheless, methadone remains an important and helpful medicine in today’s world.


Methadone Works to Fight Opiate Addiction, Originally Used as Painkiller

Methadone is well known these days as a narcotic medicine that is used to treat opiate addiction. A narcotic itself, the drug first came on the scene in the United States back in 1947. German scientists had developed it during World War II as a synthetic pain killer.

At first, the powerful medicine was prescribed to ease post surgical pain and that of cancer patients. Three years after American physicians first put it to use, they realized its benefits for people trying to kick heroin and morphine addictions. Methadone helps counteract what can be very severe withdrawal symptoms from the other drugs.

Methadone is a synthetic medicine which is created in laboratories. Heroin and morphine are both made from opium poppies. Their pain-killing abilities last approximately two to four hours, while methadone’s effects in the body continue for 24 hours.

Opiates are highly addictive and produce intense reactions. Humans actually make their own chemicals in the body that are similar to opiates. These are called endorphins, which many people know of as positive after effects of exercise; some people become addicted to exercise because of the endorphins created in the body.

Endorphins reside in the brain and block signals of pain as well as creating euphoria or feelings of well-being. Opiates are like endorphins in where they reside in the brain; they fit into duplicate receptors. They are much more intense than endorphins, however, and users report feeling a rush of warmth and happy, relaxed feelings followed by a kind of numbness.

For someone suffering from physical or emotional pain, it is no wonder that opiates are so alluring. The first dose is usually very intense, and many people will continue using the drug to reproduce the first high. Addicts grow tolerant to the drug and must use higher dosages to reach that state of euphoria.

Addicts also learn that the succeeding highs do not last as long as the ones experienced early on. The addict ends up needing to take the drug more often. This is one of the reasons that addiction is so crippling; soon, an addict will need to find sources for greater quantities of the drug and find them more often.

When someone addicted to an opiate misses a dose or tries to quit without help, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be extremely harsh to the body and mind. The unpleasantness of withdrawal may include symptoms such as upset stomach and diarrhea.

Muscle and joint pain along with depression and anxiety can also accompany withdrawal. These symptoms and a host of others may start showing up within just a few hours after the addict’s last dose. Fear of withdrawal keeps many addicts from leaving their drugs behind.

Addiction is not just an emotional response of course. Physical need for the drug is real. The body has grown accustomed to it, and can no longer function in the same ways without it.

With guidance, and the aid of medicines such as methadone, the addict can leave behind the street drug and go on to a healthier life. Methadone can relieve the discomfort of withdrawal from opiates. Methadone does not provide the same high as heroin, for example, but it is working within the brain in the same way.

Methadone not only keeps opiate addicts from going into withdrawal, it also works to block the effects of other opiates. In the case of an addict who relapses while undergoing methadone treatment, he or she will not be able to feel the euphoric effects of the other drug. Methadone does not cure opiate addiction, but it can be extremely helpful.

It can keep addicts from going into withdrawal so they can stay away from dangerous street drugs such as heroin. Methadone provides the help needed so addicts can start redirecting their lives toward recovery. Methadone is addictive itself, so it needs to be taken under medical supervision.

Methadone comes in both pills and liquids. It can be administered at a drug treatment clinic or treatment center, or a physician can write a prescription so the patient can take the dose at home. Counselling is a recommended companion to medical intervention so that the addict can discover the life issues that have led to drug use.

Although methadone is a godsend for many addicts, it too has it problems. It is sometimes traded on the streets for illegal opiates so the addict can continue using the earlier drug. Another danger of methadone is the possibility of overdose especially when methadone is taken along with alcohol or other drugs.

Addicts taking methadone may be tempted to take opiates at the same time. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to seizures, coma and death. Methadone, when taken correctly, is a wonderful tool to help eradicate drug addiction.

Psychiatric Assessment For Methadone Addiction : Why Come Prepared? Part 1

Psychiatric Assessment : Addiction, Methadone, and Suboxone Treatment

Psychiatric Assessment For Methadone Addiction

Psychiatric Assessment For Methadone Addiction

If you are thinking about finding out about addiction, methadone treatment, or suboxone treatment, this is what you need to know for the psychiatric assessment . When you visit your doctor, your psychiatric assessment will take between one and two hours. The better you prepare before a visit with your doctor, the better the results.

Be honest during the interview. I understand people lying to their doctor and I actually expect it to happen. The psychiatric assessment for addiction covers sensitive topics. You should know the law has more strict rules for patient confidentiality and medical record release. There are financial consequences for breaking confidentiality and mental health staff are aware. I ask my patients to tell me if they do not want to discuss a topic rather than lying to me. Dishonesty can lead to an incorrect diagnosis and treatment, wasted sessions, and higher cost.

If only physicians could ask all the questions during a psychiatric assessment… We all know that physicians are limited in time seeing patients. For many patients, this means only the most pressing parts of the psychiatric assessment are covered and many questions are simply skipped. A complete psychatric assessment could take three hours. I’ve found that 1 ½ hours with a prepared patient is enough time. Anything under 60 minutes, and questions will be skipped. There is just too much information. This is where you can help with some preparation. By reviewing a psychiatric assessment before seeing your MD, you can help address important topics and avoid them from being overlooked.

Psychiatric Assessment : The Most Important Part

An accurate time history of your drug use and addiction along with other symptoms is the most important item of a psychiatric assessment . Doctors call it a good history. A clear history is worth it’s weight in gold. The diagnosis becomes clear. I’ve found most patients do not give a good history without enough time and questioning. When the time runs short, the doctor will have to ask more questions and cut off the patient from talking. After a while the patient becomes upset and feels the physician doesn’t care. If the physician lets the patient continue talking without limits, they will not get all the information.

You can help by thinking about the history of the problem prior to going to the psychiatric assessment. I always ask these questions to the patients I see. You would be surprised that patients really need to concentrate to answer the many questions. Asking these questions to help prepare you:

  1. When did the problem start?
  2. When was the last time you were doing well?
  3. What problems and symptoms came first?
  4. What sequence did they come next?
  5. What made the symptoms better or worse?

Psychiatric Assessment : Setting Goals

When patients go to the doctor, many just “want to feel better.” One needs to be more specific with what they mean by “getting better.” It could mean not feeling depressed. It could mean being able to hold down a job. How about not yelling at their children? It is important to define goals important to you before seeing the doctor.

Once you decide what YOU want to see improved, you will be more likely to benefit from treatment. Some say what their physician wants is not what they want. Be very specific about your goals of treatment. Tell your physician what you want and look at the goals in few weeks. You can always make more goals or change them.

After the initial psychiatric assessment you don’t want to end up in the position with your doctor saying you are doing better and that you disagreeing with this. Set goals and measure them. Here are a some examples of specific assessment goals.

  1. I will rested in the morning at least 5 days per week by the end of the month.
  2. I will not have suicidal thoughts for two days.
  3. I will not cut on myself for the next for 5 days
  4. I will not use any alcohol in the next 30 days.
  5. I will keep my current job for 6 more months
  6. When I feel the urge to fight with someone, I will walk away from the argument and call my sponsor.

These goals can be measured. They will be clear to all when achieved. Setting goals is not complicated. However, not setting good goals will lead to treatment not working well. You may end up moving from doctor to doctor.

In part 2 of Psychiatric Assessment : Addiction, Methadone, and Suboxone Treatment I will go over more specific questions your physician will ask. You will become more familiar with them before your visit. Being ready for your visit helps you spend more time going over what you feel is most important with your doctor.


Suboxone Treatment Directory For Help With The Long Term Effects of Opioids

Dr. Rich is a Board Certified Psychiatrist with licenses in Texas and Hawaii. He specializes in the treatment of opioid addiction with buprenorphine and runs a FREE locator service to find Addiction Treament including Suboxone treatment, methadone treatment, and oxycontin addiction treatment. Find a  Suboxone Doctor in your area.
Dr. Rich has written more articles on the cost of oxycontin, buprenorphine (Suboxone) including frequently asked questions and a recent post : How Do I Find A Suboxone Doctor? If you are looking for a suboxone doctor in hawaii, Dr. Rich can be found in hawaii.

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