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How Does Methadone Treat Drug Addiction

Methadone Treatment For Drug Addiction

Medication-Assisted Treatment: Methadone l The Partnership

While it may seem counterintuitive to use drugs to treat a drug addiction, methadone treatment has been used since the 1960s to treat heroin addiction. It is still considered one of the most successful drug therapies to help those with opioid addictions.

Methadone is a safe and effective way to lessen withdrawal symptoms.

Why Methadone Treatment Is Used for Substance Abuse

When you first stop abusing heroin or other opioids, withdrawal symptoms can be severe. You may experience:

  • muscle pain, especially in the back and legs

Because withdrawal symptoms can be so uncomfortable and overwhelming, many addicts fall back into a pattern of substance abuse to relieve those symptoms. Methadone helps ease withdrawal symptoms, giving the support necessary to overcome the temptation to relapse into former destructive behaviors.

How Methadone Works

Methadone is a slow-acting medication that falls under the category of an opioid agonist. In simple terms, methadone works on certain areas of the brain and spinal cord to block the high you get from drugs like heroin and lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms during addiction recovery.

WebMD explains,

This effect allows people to avoid the physical and psychological highs and lows caused by changing levels of opiates in the blood, decreasing the chance of relapse. In some cases of opiate addiction, methadone treatment may be needed for several years or longer.

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Effects Of Methadone Misuse

Compared to other opioids, methadone has a lower chance of causing euphoria and blocks opioid receptors for long periods. This helps to manage cravings when it is used for opioid addiction treatment. Its important to note that with proper dosages, the person taking methadone shouldnt feel high.

If a methadone high does occur, the person may experience feelings of euphoria. Additionally, methadone can relieve pain for four to six hours, but it stays active in the system for 24 to 36 hours.

How Does Methadone Treatment Work: The Basics


One of the most dangerous and challenging epidemics facing society is the abuse of and addiction to opiates. Despite numerous attempts at educating the public of these dangers, the problem continues to grow.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome addiction. One of the most commonly used and successful methods of overcoming opiate addiction is methadone treatment. So, how does methadone treatment work?

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What Should I Do If I Forget A Dose

If your doctor has told you to take methadone for pain, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it and then continue your regular dosing schedule. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

If you are taking methadone to treat opioid addiction, skip the missed dose and take the next dose the next day as scheduled. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

Is Methadone Safe What About People Selling Their Doses

Methadone Treatment Detroit

Methadone treatment has always been tough to get, with access limited by strict federal guidelines since the 1970s.

“Now, our research has found exactly how difficult it can be for patients to get methadone and stay in treatment, and patients have been saying that for years,” McGaffey said.

But the medication is safe and effective when used as prescribed for opioid use disorder, research shows. It fills opioid receptors in the brain, which helps prevent painful withdrawal symptoms from stopping opioid use, and curbs cravings for drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. It does basically what other opioids do, but it acts slowly, and it doesn’t provide the euphoria that other opioids do, experts say. It can help patients get to and stay in recovery.

As for diversion people taking their doses out of the clinic and selling them to others the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that most data suggest that most of the time, methadone that’s misused is taken to control withdrawal symptoms, not to get high.

“Many of states current regulations are based on an approach developed during the war on drugs in the 1970s, which focused on reducing crime and diversion rather than treating addiction like a public health problem,” said Pew’s McGaffey. “Thats why we tend to see tight restrictions rather than a patient-centered, evidence-based approach.

‘First do no harm’ goes hand-in-hand with ‘allowing no harm,’ which is my approach to treating my patients,” Soria said.

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What Does Methadone Do

Methadone changes the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain so that you feel relief. Its effects are slower than those of other strong painkillers like morphine. Your doctor may prescribe methadone if youâre in a lot of pain from an injury, surgery, or long-term illness.

It also blocks the high from drugs like codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. It can give a similar feeling and keep you from having withdrawal symptoms and cravings. You may hear this called replacement therapy.

Itâs usually just one part of your treatment plan. It isnât a cure for addiction.

How Effective Is Methadone Treatment For Fentanyl Addiction

03/18/2022|Mona Bapat, Phd, HSPP

The use of illegal fentanyl has surged in recent years because it is a cheap and highly potent opioid. Even though fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids, there is evidence that methadone treatment for fentanyl addiction can be effective in supporting long-term recovery goals.

In this Article:

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Types Of Rehab For Opioid Dependence

If you or a loved one needs help with opioid addiction, there are many options for treatment available. Most programs that treat opioid use disorders do so through a combination of behavioral therapy and medication, including methadone.1 Treatment settings for opioid use disorders include detox, where a supervised program will use a set of interventions to help you safely manage withdrawal symptoms and prepare for structured addiction treatment.10

Detox is an effective way to get a person ready to enter treatment.10 Ongoing treatment may involve inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment, depending on the needs of the individual.

Interactions Between Methadone And Other Medications

2-Minute Neuroscience: Methadone

Interactions between methadone and other drugs can lead to overdose or death. Drugs that depress the respiratory system increase the effects of methadone. Drugs that affect metabolism can induce methadone withdrawal symptoms. Clinically important drug interactions are listed in . In particular it is important to note interactions between methadone and medications used to treatment HIV and tuberculosis:

Methadone-medication interactions.

  • The HIV medications nevirapine and efavirenz increase metabolism of methadone, causing opioid withdrawal. Some protease inhibitors may have the same effect, especially when associated to a small boosting dose of ritonavir.
  • The tuberculosis medication rifampicin increases metabolism of methadone and reduces the half-life of methadone.

Patients receiving these medications, or other medications listed in , in combination with methadone should be monitored for signs of withdrawal or intoxication, and their methadone dose adjusted accordingly. See also AIDSinfo, , for up-to-date listings of antiretroviral medications and interactions with other drugs.

Patients in methadone maintenance treatment can become tolerant to the pain-relieving effects of opioids. In the event that an MMT patient requires pain relief, non-opioid analgesics such as paracetamol can be given. If methadone patients are provided with opioid analgesics, they may require higher than normal doses to experience pain relief.

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How Common Is Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which means it is a pain-relieving drug that is made in a lab. In high enough doses or when taken when you are not in pain, opioids cause euphoria, or a high, which makes them very addictive. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine. Providers only prescribe fentanyl for severe pain, such as breakthrough cancer pain in people who cannot take other opioids.1

In 2016, there were 19,413 overdose deaths from synthetic opioids alone.2 Recently, most overdose deaths from synthetic opioids have involved illegal fentanyl analogues. Because fentanyl is both effective and life-threatening at extremely low amounts, it has a higher risk of overdose than other drugs, especially if another pill or powder is contaminated with fentanyl. Deaths due to overdose of illegal fentanyl have risen 56% from 2020 to 2021.1

What Is Methadone Used For

Methadone is prescribed for the medical treatment of heroin and other opioid dependencies. Methadone can also be prescribed to help manage severe pain cause by certain conditions.

Because of the risks associated with opioid use, methadone should only be used for pain relief in people who are unable to take non-opioid pain-relief medicines, or in circumstances when pain cannot be managed with other options.

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What Other Information Should I Know

Keep all appointments with your doctor or clinic. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your response to methadone.

Before having any laboratory test , tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking methadone.

This prescription is not refillable. If you continue to experience pain after you finish taking the methadone, call your doctor. If you take this medication on a regular basis, be sure to schedule appointments with your doctor so that you do not run out of medication.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Living With Opioid Addiction

Maine Voices: Legalizing opiates will turn the tide

The first step toward recovery is recognizing that you have a problem with opioids. If you think you are addicted to them, know that there is help for you. The first step in breaking addiction is realizing that you control your own behavior.

The following steps will help you fight your addiction:

  • Commit to quitting. Take control of your behavior and commit to fighting your addictions.
  • Get help from your doctor. They can be your biggest ally, even if youre trying to quit a drug they prescribed. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medicine that will help ease your cravings for the addictive drug. Talking with your doctor or a counselor about your problems and your drug use can be helpful, too.
  • Get support. Certain organizations are dedicated to helping people who have addictions. They want you to succeed and will give you the tools and support you need to quit and move on with your life. Ask your family and friends for support, too.

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Who Can And Cannot Take Methadone

Adults can take methadone for drug addiction.

It can also be given to newborn babies in hospital, to help with heroin or methadone withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone may not be suitable for some people. Tell your doctor before starting methadone treatment if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction to methadone or any other medicines in the past
  • have a lung problem or breathing difficulties
  • are addicted to alcohol, or other drugs that are not opioid
  • have a head injury or get bad headaches
  • have heart rhythm problems or low blood pressure
  • have problems with your thyroid, adrenal glands, kidneys or liver
  • have myasthenia gravis
  • are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding

Case Study: The Hong Kong Methadone Maintenance Program

Hong Kong has had a methadone maintenance treatment program since 1972. The program was started in response to rising levels of drug use. More recently, the program has been crucial to controlling the HIV epidemic. Hong Kong methadone clinics have several important characteristics that make them easy for drug users to access:

Low cost of treatment HK$1 per clinic attendance

Open seven days per week and are open from early in the morning to late at night

Operate on a low threshold model this means that there are few conditions that patients must meet to begin treatment

Non-judgemental approach that includes providing harm reduction information and condoms

Research conducted with patients of the Hong Kong methadone program has shown that patients who attend the clinic regularly show reduced levels of drug injecting and HIV risk behaviours. It has also been shown that patients receiving methadone doses of greater than 60mg per day were less likely to use or inject drugs than patients receiving doses of less than 60mg per day.

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Side Effects Of Cocaine

Cocaine has many side effects on its own and when combinedwith powerful opioids like Suboxone or methadone, it becomes even moredangerous. Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that increases thelevels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.Dopamine is a part of the brains natural reward system. When the brain releases dopamine, it makes us feel good. This is where the euphoric effects of cocainecome from. However, cocaine keeps the brain from recycling dopamine back intothe cells. This excess of dopamine can cause some ofthe serious side effects of cocaine.1

What are the physicalside effects of Cocaine?

  • Constricts blood vessels

What are the dangersof Cocaine use?

Some of the side effects of cocaine use can lead to serioushealth problems. The body is not designed to function with such high levels of dopamine. Cocaine use can cause:

In addition to therisk of heart attack, stroke and death, cocaine users are at risk for otherhealth problems depending on how they use the drug. Intravenous cocaineusers are at increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis from sharing needles. Cocaineusers who snort the drug can lose their sense of smell have chronic runnynoses, hoarseness, nosebleeds and trouble swallowing.

What Are The Risks Associated With Methadone

Methadone treatment

Methadone is an opioid medicine and can cause life-threatening breathing problems.

People who take methadone may become dependent on this medicine if they take it regularly, even after a short period of time.

People can also develop tolerance when they take methadone this means they need to take larger amounts of the opioid to get the same effect. As the dosage increases, so does the risk of side effects.

If you stop taking methadone suddenly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone may make it difficult for you to drive or operate heavy machinery. If you have recently started taking an opioid medication or changed dosage, you may be at higher risk of having an accident.

If you have kidney problems or your kidney function is impaired, your doctor will need to adjust your dosage of methadone.

There are other factors that may limit your use of methadone for example, if you drink alcohol or take other medicines that can cause drowsiness.

Your doctor is the best person to advise you on whether methadone is the right medicine for you, how much you need and how long to take it for.

If a person is not breathing, or if they are unresponsive, seek help straight away. Call triple zero and ask for an ambulance.

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Use To Abuse And Addiction

Because many individuals receive prescriptions for strong painkillers every year, more and more people find themselves suffering from addiction to prescription pain medications. These are often an oxycodone- or hydrocodone-based medication, such as Vicodin, Percocet, or OxyContin. Lawmakers and regulators now say that prescription pain medications are over-prescribed for problems that may not be fixed by this medication, such as chronic back pain, or they are prescribed in large quantities for post-surgery pain treatment. Although the Food and Drug Administration does not recommend methadone as a prescription painkiller for these types of pain, over 4 million prescriptions were written for methadone in 2009. The rise in methadone prescriptions, specifically for use as a painkiller, is due to the fact that methadone is cheap, especially compared to hydrocodone and oxycodone. Insurance companies are sometimes more willing to cover the cost of methadone instead of brand name opioid painkillers, and that has driven many people to switch their prescriptions to methadone.

Because methadone is designed to be a long-acting drug, it can build up very quickly in the body, and that can mean that taking even one more dose than prescribed can lead to an overdose. Unless carefully monitored by a medical professional, methadone use is dangerous, and abuse or addiction can lead to very serious consequences.

How Does Methadone Work

Methadone works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It lessens the painful symptoms of opiate withdrawal and blocks the euphoric effects of opiate drugs such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Methadone is offered in pill, liquid, and wafer forms and is taken once a day. Pain relief from a dose of methadone lasts about four to eight hours. SAMHSAs TIP 43: Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs 2012 shows that methadone is effective in higher doses, particularly for heroin users, helping them stay in treatment programs longer.

As with all medications used in medication-assisted treatment , methadone is to be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and participation in social support programs.

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How Should This Medicine Be Used

Methadone comes as a tablet, a dispersible tablet, a solution , and a concentrated solution to take by mouth. When methadone is used to relieve pain, it may be taken every 8 to 12 hours. If you take methadone as part of a treatment program, your doctor will prescribe the dosing schedule that is best for you. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take methadone exactly as directed.

If you are using the dispersible tablets, do not chew or swallow before mixing the tablet in a liquid. If your doctor has told you to take only part of a tablet, break the tablet carefully along the lines that have been scored into it. Place the tablet or piece of the tablet in at least 120 mL of water, orange juice, Tang®, citrus flavors of Kool-Aid®, or a citrus fruit drink to dissolve. Drink the entire mixture right away. If some tablet residue remains in the cup after you drink the mixture, add a small amount of liquid to the cup and drink it all.

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