In the world of prescription medications, there may be no drug more controversial than methadone. Having been developed more than 50 years ago as a drug to treat chronic pain, methadone is now primarily used to treat narcotic addictions, most notably heroin. Despite some moderate success in helping heroin addicts kick their addictions, methadone creates problems of its own.
There is much controversy surrounding this drug as a long-term solution for heroin addiction. Proponents of methadone acknowledge that physical dependence is likely with long-term use but say that the dependence is not an addiction because patients manifest it differently than they would with heroin. But that argument seems to be one of semantics. Physical and psychological dependence on a drug is that which defines clinical addiction. Because methadone users develop both, they also develop an addiction over time.
Addiction Helper is here to assist anyone who is dealing with a methadone problem. Whether you are concerned about yourself or someone you love, treatment and rehabilitative support are available through a private clinic near you. One of our counsellors can help you understand all you need to know about methadone if you are willing to contact us on our 24-hour helpline. We can also refer you to a local rehab centre.
Basics of Methadone
Methadone is a synthetic opiate manufactured for medical use. It is most often used by doctors to treat heroin addiction. Methadone is normally ingested as a liquid, but it can also be obtained in tablet form or as a medication to be injected with a needle and syringe.
Doctors may prescribe methadone to heroin addicts to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. The effects of the drug last much longer than heroin, so many users can get by with a daily dose. A single dose can produce feelings of euphoria, contentment, and general well-being that last throughout the day. For this reason, doctors who support the use of methadone to treat heroin addiction tend to describe their patients with a long-term history of use as having been stabilised.
What must be understood is that ceasing methadone use does result in withdrawal symptoms. That means the drug is physically addictive. If a user must continue with methadone over an extended period of time in order to stop using heroin, he or she is simply substituting one addiction for another. Methadone stabilisation creates a new problem while solving an old one.
Signs and Symptoms of Methadone Addiction
The ability of methadone to stabilise heroin users makes it a drug with a high potential for abuse. We are first-hand witnesses of the phenomenon here in the UK. When we put heroin users on methadone for short-term treatment of heroin addiction, we tend to get good results. But when methadone use becomes a long-term thing, patients tend to abuse the drug more often than not.
Below are some of the more common signs and symptoms of methadone addiction:
- Doctor shopping (continually looking for new doctors to write prescriptions)
- Using the drug in higher doses or more often than prescriptions dictate
- Skipping some doses of the drug in order to take larger doses later on
- Gradually neglecting other responsibilities at work, school, etc.
Abusers and addicts also tend to display the following physical and psychological symptoms:
- Respiratory problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Impaired judgement
- Blood-borne diseases associated with injection.
Long-term methadone use does come with a range of side effects that may be incorrectly attributed to other things. For example, dry mouth and skin rashes are common among abusers. They may also suffer from constipation, urinary retention, confusion, depression, muscle spasms, heart palpitations and even hallucinations.
High doses of methadone tend to make the user sleepy. In cases of overdose, a user can stop breathing, enter a comatose state, and even die.
Treatment for Methadone Addiction
Attempting to discontinue methadone use abruptly can result in potentially dangerous symptoms including convulsions and seizures. Even in a controlled setting, there are uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Users should never attempt to stop using methadone without the direct supervision of a medical professional.
Treatment for methadone addiction begins with medically supervised detox. This process takes between seven and ten days and can be completed in a private rehab clinic or hospital. We recommend a private clinic for two reasons: rehabilitative care can immediately follow detox and the residential nature of private rehab is more conducive to long-term recovery.
At the conclusion of detox, patients are given psychotherapeutic treatments designed to help them deal with the mental and emotional aspects of addiction. Cognitive behavioural therapy is an example of one of the treatments that might be used. Originally developed to help children struggling with certain kinds of mental illness, cognitive behavioural therapy has proven very useful for drug addiction treatment.
Residential treatment lasts between three and 12 weeks, depending on the severity of the patient’s addiction. Upon leaving the residential facility, patients are provided with aftercare services to help prevent relapse. Those services include ongoing counselling and support group participation.
Support for You and Your Family
Our number one priority here at Addiction Helper is to provide whatever assistance we can to those in need. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you or a family member is struggling to get off methadone.
Long-term methadone use is not wise despite what you may have heard. As with any drug that creates psychological and physical dependence, methadone always has the potential of ruining a person’s life by destroying relationships, causing financial difficulties, and doing damage to physical health. You and your family deserve better.
We hope you will consider taking advantage of our free and confidential services by contacting us on our helpline or through this website. We are standing by to provide the help and support you and your family need. Just one phone call is all it takes to get the recovery process started so that you and your family can get back to the kind of life you were meant to live.