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.
What Are The Side Effects Of Methadone Withdrawal
Aswith other opioids, there is a predictable course of withdrawal that appearswhen methadone use is significantly curtailed or stopped abruptly. Sincemethadone is a long-acting medication, symptoms of withdrawal can take 2-4 daysafter the last dose to appear, and last longer but are less severe than that ofother opioids.6 Common withdrawal symptoms include:1, 6
- Alternating periods of chills and sweating.
- Difficulty sleeping or inability to sleep.
- Dilated pupils.
- Inability to feel pleasure or happiness in activities that used to be enjoyable.
- Increase in blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
- Muscle, bone, and joint pain.
- Stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
- Strong cravings for methadone.
How To Stop Using Methadone
Most people do not intend to use methadone for the rest of their lives, and indeed, using it long-term can increase the chance of a substance use disorder. At the same time, many people in the medical community believe that long-term use is the best way to avoid relapse and overdose. Many people also want to stop using the medication as it can be inconvenient to travel to the clinic every day.
If part of the treatment plan includes counseling, therapy, or support groups, progress in those areas of treatment will help determine the readiness to stop use. If you and your doctor have decided that you are ready to try to come off of methadone, it is important to do so very gradually, with medication supervision.
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More Than Just Methadone Itself
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According to the CDC, Methadone maintenance treatment, a program in which addicted individuals receive daily doses of methadone, was initially developed during the 1960s as part of a broad, multicomponent treatment program that also emphasized resocialization and vocational training. These other treatments are still used today along with the drug to help narcotic addicts get back on their feet and be able to lead more productive lives.
Usually, the treatment is not just methadone itself but this broader, more multifaceted treatment program. It is often available in an outpatient setting and many patients attend treatment for a long time, even years or more. This is because, as methadone maintenance treatment for narcotic addiction has been around for more than fifty years, it is an extremely beneficial and viable treatment for many individuals.
What To Do If Someone You Love Is Abusing Methadone
Here are some steps to consider if someone you love is abusing methadone:
- Tell your loved one you care about them, and support their sobriety
- Stage an intervention with a doctor, so your loved one understands the importance of getting help for methadone addiction
- Familiarize yourself with steps to take in the event of methadone overdose
- Set boundaries, and stop enabling your loved ones addiction to methadone
- Look for an addiction treatment center that offers methadone detox and therapy
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What Does Methadone Do
Methadone is a long-acting opioid drug used to replace the shorter-acting opioids that someone may be addicted to, such as heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl or hydromorphone. Long-acting means that the drug acts more slowly in the body, for a longer period of time. The effects of methadone last for 24 to 36 hours. In contrast, a person who uses short-acting opioids to avoid withdrawal must use three to four times a day.
When taken at the correct dose, methadone prevents withdrawal symptoms and reduces drug cravings without causing the person to feel high or sleepy. This lowers the harms associated with opioid misuse and gives people who are addicted to opioids a chance to stabilize their lives. This treatment is known as methadone maintenance, which is a type of opioid agonist therapy. Methadone therapy for opioid addiction works similar to buprenorphine, another opioid agonist therapy.
When combined with medical and supportive care, methadone and buprenorphine are equally effective treatments for opioid addiction, although one may work better than the other for some people.
Methadone maintenance is a long-term treatment. The length of treatment varies from one or two years to 20 years or more. However, if the person taking methadone and their doctor agree to end treatment, the methadone dose is tapered down gradually over many weeks or months, easing the process of withdrawal.
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.
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Voluntary Cessation Of Treatment
Patients who wish to stop MMT should see their prescribing doctor to discuss their treatment options. The doctor should establish why the patient wants to stop MMT. Reasons for wanting to stop MMT may include:
- Belief that methadone is not appropriate in their case
- Belief that they no longer need treatment
- To avoid problems associated with MMT e.g. side-effects, harassment from others to divert dose
- To be drug-free prior to release from the closed setting.
Each of these reasons is legitimate, but the doctor should ensure the patient is aware of the benefits of MMT and has made an informed decision to cease treatment. In particular, patients who wish to cease MMT just before release should be informed of the increased risk of relapse and drug overdose in the weeks following release from a closed setting.
If a patient chooses to discontinue treatment, their treatment plan should be revised so that they will start receiving lower doses of methadone over a period of time. The patient should be told that this will happen.
Recommended dose reduction schedule:
- Reduce by 10mg per week until a dose of 40mg per day is reached.
- From then, reduce by 5mg per week until a zero dose is reached.
- Dose reductions should occur once a week or less often.
A patient may begin to reduce his or her dose and later decide that they would prefer to remain in MMT. There should be procedures in place for these patients, and recently discharged patients, to be re-admitted to MMT on request.
Is Methadone Effective For Opioid Addiction Treatment
In many cases, yes. According to Harvard Medical School, More than 100,000 American addicts are now using methadone as a maintenance treatment. Methadone helps patients stop their abuse of illicit opioids and has reduced
- Crime rates associated with narcotic abuse
- Mortality and overdose rates associated with narcotic abuse
- The risk of acquiring or transmitting diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B or C, bacterial infections and STDs
This program has also been shown to improve family stability and employment potential in addicted individuals as well as pregnancy outcomes. Over time, a person can be slowly tapered off the drug and able to stop taking methadone if they choose. Others may decide to stay on the drug for a long time or even indefinitely. While this is controversial in many circles, there is a large amount of success associated with methadone in the treatment of narcotic addiction.
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Pain Relief And Methadone
People with severe forms of pain that dont respond to treatments may also develop a methadone addiction. When the drug attaches to the opiate receptors in the brain, tiny chemicals are released that help the body feel soothed and relaxed. Often, this allows people with severe pain to sleep or forget about their pain, and this relief can last for hours at a stretch. For people with cancer, for example, this could be a significant relief.
Over time, however, the person may find that he or she needs larger and larger doses of methadone to feel the same level of pain relief. Once again, the body is adjusting its response to the medication and trying to stay balanced. This is called tolerance, and its not the same as methadone addiction. Its a natural process related to taking these medications.
Some people who use methadone for pain relief are given the drug in pill form or injectable form, and theyre allowed to take the drug outside a doctors office. Sometimes, other people grab the drug to abuse it. In some cases, small children have been impacted. Methadone is sometimes dissolved in juice, and small children mistakenly drink the laced juice and overdose. This is a real problem with methadone addiction: People might take the drug accidentally or with intent unless the user takes care to lock the drugs up.
Advantages Of Opioid Use Disorder Treatment With Methadone
The benefits of methadone treatment for opioid addiction include:
- Methadone has a history of use in addiction medicine that goes back to 1947. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research suggests that it can increase a patient’s chance of staying in treatment by 4.44 times.
- Effective for severe symptoms: The lack of a ceiling effect in methadone makes it very effective for patients who take large amounts of potent opioids. With medical supervision, methadone treatment can relieve the associated withdrawal symptoms during recovery.
- Safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding: Breastfeeding and pregnant patients can safely take methadone. It helps these patients manage their addiction as they go through these life changes.
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Methadone Is A Cure For Opioid Use Disorder
Although methadone helps with the withdrawal symptoms from stopping the use of a substance such as heroin, but it does not tackle the cause of addiction. Therapy, counseling, and support groups will help to target those underlying issues while methadone allows patients to remain stable and avoid negative withdrawal symptoms.
For Methadone Addiction Treatment
Methadone has been used as a form of addiction treatment for decades. Even today, the drug is still considered quite effective. Methadone therapies can help recovering addicts participate in their communities and feel better about themselves. While there are many medications available to treat addiction, doctors often reach for methadone because they know it works.
Drug abuse changes the chemical levels in a users brain. As the drugs enter the body, they attach to opiate receptors located in the brain and intestinal system. Soon, the body becomes accustomed to large amounts of drugs in the system. Eventually, opiate receptors become less responsive. When drug use stops, the receptors are so weak that they cant pick up the natural chemicals in the body. The person begins to feel incredibly sick, and the cravings for the drug may be intense. Methadone can help opiate receptors normalize the functions of the body which brings the person immense relief.
The common initial dose of methadone is 30 to 40 mg of the drug daily when in a methadone program for addiction.3 However, it is possible that some patients may take higher doses. Often, doctors start patients at low doses of methadone and slowly increase the dosage until withdrawal symptoms go away. At this point, the patient is considered stable. In many cases, people must go to specialized clinics to get methadone.
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Is Methadone Addictive
Methadone is an opiate and, like many drugs in this class, its use carries significant, inherent risk for abuse and addiction development.
Because methadone is a longer-acting, relatively less potent opiate, its unable to elicit quite as intense an effect profile as that of heroin and other shorter-acting, more potent opioid receptor agonist substances in other words, methadone use shouldnt result in rapid-onset highs and intolerable, crashing lows. Still, if you abuse methadone by taking it in doses that exceed those prescribed as part of the maintenance schedule, youll subject yourself to heightened and potentially dangerous effects. Additionally, you increase your chances of experiencing more intense withdrawal symptoms in between scheduled dosing, or should you stop altogether.
Methadone is a valuable addiction treatment pharmaceutical. When taken as prescribed, and under proper supervision, the potential for an addictive euphoric rush, the risks of negative side effects, and the risk of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are minimized.
How Effective Is Mmt
Because MMT is not a cure for addiction, it is hard to measure how effective it is. While it might help in the course of treatment, it is not a cure itself to the underlying causes of addiction. While numbers vary, MMT has a success rate of between 60% and 90%.2 Success is more likely the longer that somebody is engages with treatment. MMT is also more likely to be successful if it is combined with other treatment approaches such as counseling, therapy, and a strong support network. It is important to discuss the best treatment plan with a doctor.
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Cold Turkey Vs Tapering
Quitting methadone cold turkey can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. The best way to taper off methadone use is very slowly. One method involves using another drug such as suboxone, to help manage withdrawal symptoms. This process is criticized, however, for just replacing one drug with the next one and so forth.
Another method is to lower the dose very slowly over a long time so that the body has time to get used to and adjust to lower doses without severe withdrawal symptoms. If use of the drug stops suddenly, negative withdrawal symptoms will likely appear. This increases the likelihood of returning to the original drug to combat those symptoms. Always discuss ending medication use with a doctor before stopping the use of methadone.
Buprenorphine As A Treatment For Heroin Dependence
Buprenorphine is a partial opiate agonist, which means it stimulates the cell receptors that are normally stimulated by opioid drugs like heroin and methadone, resulting in a much weaker response. Suboxone tablets contain buprenorphine.
Characteristics of Suboxone include:
- It is as effective as methadone in managing the symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
- Suboxone use on its own is very unlikely to cause overdose.
- Methadone withdrawal can be unpleasant and lengthy, while the effects of Suboxone withdrawal are mild and brief.
- A short course of Suboxone can help a person to withdraw from their methadone maintenance program.
- Only one daily dose is needed, due to its long-lasting effects.
Long-acting injectable buprenorphine is also available for some patients, with injections given either weekly or monthly depending on individual needs.
How Does Mmt Work
There is no universal guide for how MMT programs work. However, there are similarities in how methadone is used in addiction treatment. Individuals in the MMT program take doses of the drug once a day, typically mixed into an orange drink. Unlike other opioids, methadone is long-acting, meaning that a single dose can decrease withdrawal symptoms and cravings all day.
Methadone Addiction And Abuse: The Early Beginnings
Methadone is a long-acting medication. Essentially, this means that it builds up in the body very quickly. Therefore, even one dosage over the prescribed limit can amount to an overdose.
Methadone has a half-life of 8-58 hours depending on your bodys metabolism. However, the painkilling effects last for a maximum of 8 hours. The extremely long half-life is a plus when it is used for addiction treatment. However, for painkilling usage, its a minus.
It means that if the pain returns before the next dosage, most people get tempted to turn to the pill. This raises the probability of overdose and abuse. Therefore if you notice any of the following, youre starting to abuse methadone:
- When you use more than the prescribed dosage
- Turning to the drug to deal with the pain
- Running out of the drug too quickly
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