Methadone maintenance treatment is not something new to the methods of treating opioid addiction. Methadone maintenance treatment has been used since the 1950s for opioid-dependent patients. This drug is an opiate, and it is addictive. However, addiction to methadone is not the same as addiction to illegal opioids like heroin.
What is Methadone and Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
Methadone is classified as a Schedule II drug. What a Schedule II classification means is that the drug has a legitimate legal use in the medical field. However, it also is a highly addictive drug. Methadone is a synthetic opioid which physicians use to treat moderate to severe pain. It is also used to treat opioid addictions, such as addictions to heroin.
For those with addictions to heroin, methadone can curtail the withdrawal symptoms when they stop using heroin. In addition, it can decrease the cravings for heroin. However, anyone using methadone maintenance treatment is at a high risk of abuse and dependency on this drug because they are already addicted to opiates.
How is Methadone Administered?
By law, methadone can only be dispensed through an opioid treatment program (OTP) certified by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Patients taking methadone for opioid addictions must have physician supervision in a clinic or medical facility.
Methadone comes in liquid, pill, or wafer forms. Methadone maintenance treatment is not just a matter of showing up at the clinic and taking your daily dose of methadone. It also involves a treatment program of counseling and group support meetings. In other words, you have to be trying to help yourself as you slowly withdraw with methadone from heroin or other opioids.
Methadone as a Painkiller
In recent years, physicians have started prescribing methadone as a painkiller, just like OxyContin or Vicodin. Methadone is less expensive than these name-brand opioid painkillers. Therefore, insurance companies are more willing to pay for this drug over others.
Methadone is a long-acting drug. Because of this, it can build up in the body where even one extra dose of the medication can cause an overdose. When physicians prescribe methadone as a painkiller, they must supervise their patients carefully to avoid dangerous results. Methadone’s half-life makes it less effective as a painkiller.
What are the Side Effects of Methadone?
Whether a person is using methadone for pain relief or as methadone maintenance treatment, there are side effects to deal with.
Some of the common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased sex drive
Some of the more severe side effects of methadone include:
- Chest pain
- Shallow breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
Furthermore, methadone may interact with other medications. In fact, these medications can be prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, even vitamin supplements. Anyone starting methadone maintenance treatment or starting methadone as a medication for chronic pain should tell their doctor any of these drugs that they are currently taking.
Methadone Abuse and Addiction
As Methadone becomes more available to drug abusers either by stealing it from friends or buying it illegally on the streets, there are more individuals forming addictions to this drug today. Furthermore, individuals are abusing methadone and using it recreationally more than ever before. It can be easy for a user to overdose on methadone, especially if mixing it with alcohol or other legal or illegal drugs. If a patient is taking methadone for chronic pain, they can develop a tolerance to the drug, just like any other opioid painkiller. Once this happens, abuse turns into an addiction.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment Can Transform into Addiction
When physicians put individuals on methadone as maintenance treatment for heroin or other opioid addiction, they can end up with an addiction to this drug. If this happens, don’t be ashamed to ask for help at a professional addiction treatment center. In fact, an inpatient addiction treatment program can be tailor-made for your needs as well as your preferences.
You can regain your health and become a productive member of society and your community with the help of inpatient addiction treatment. Contact one of our informed representatives today to discuss a treatment program that will fulfill all of your needs. They can answer any questions you may have about our facility (Awakenings Rehabilitation) and the treatment programs that we offer. Contact us today!
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Methadone Maintenance Treatment
samhsa.gov – Medication-Assisted Treatment
samhsa.gov – Medication and Counseling Treatment