Methadone Addiction – Treatment & Abuse
Methadone is an opioid analgesic that is used in maintenance therapy for opioid addiction, and for managing severe chronic pain in medical settings. It acts on the same opioid receptors as drugs such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone affect which means it produces many of the same effects. It has a much longer duration of effect through which makes it suitable to manage the symptoms of opiate withdrawal through a single daily stabilized dose.
In a maintenance setting, patients can be stabilized on a dose of methadone that doesn’t make them intoxicated but holds off the symptoms of withdrawal. This also creates a situation where the opioid receptors are continually occupied which blocks the sedating or euphoric effects of the fast-acting opiates. This means that individuals who participate in methadone maintenance therapy are less likely to use their opiates of choice, and is an effective way to prevent relapse. It also provides stability and the ability to work and function normally outside of the addiction lifestyle.
Regardless if methadone is prescribed for chronic pain management or used for opioid dependence treatment the drug creates the same physical addiction. Methadone addiction is characterized by one of the most severe withdrawal syndromes of any drug, and often requires an assisted detox to get through. The same long-acting effects that make it useful for dependence treatment make it much more difficult to quit. Fast-acting opioids such as heroin or oxycodone leave the body within a few days at which point the most severe symptoms of withdrawal subside. Methadone takes weeks to completely leave the body which means that individuals experience intense acute withdrawal symptoms for 14 days or more.
Treatment for methadone addiction is largely the same as treatment for other opioid drugs. While the withdrawal process is significantly longer the lingering effects are largely the same. After detoxification, there is a period of stabilization when the body returns to its normal state of functioning without the drug. Stabilization can take a variable amount of time-based on drug use history and the amount and duration of methadone use. After the individual is stabilized they can begin to learn new life skills that will help them in relapse-prevention, and to manage the lingering symptoms that addiction creates.
With the right help methadone addicts can get through the difficult period of withdrawal and emerge prepared to maintain long-term abstinence. Addiction recovery is generally a long-term process, but with the right support, many individuals overcome methadone addition.
When used by people who have no tolerance to opioids methadone produces similar euphoric and sedating effects to drugs like heroin. When used for non-medical purposes methadone has a high incidence of dependence, and cause addiction in users before they know what has happened. When anyone uses the drug regularly they will experience the same methadone addiction as those who take the medication for severe chronic pain, or for opioid dependence. They will experience the same difficult withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop, and will need the same methadone addiction treatment to stop for good.