Methadone is a prescription drug that helps a drug-dependent person delay the onset of withdrawal symptoms long enough to engage in some kind of drug detoxification or drug rehabilitation. Once the individual learns and have the tools of how to live without drugs, he will hopefully wean himself from the methadone.
Methadone Withdrawal Detox
Methadone is an opiate, which means it is in the same class as morphine, codeine, OxyContin, and heroin. Opiates interact with the central nervous system to cause various neurological effects. Doctors prescribe opiates for their pain-relieving effects. Recreational drug abusers use opiates for their euphoric effects. Other neurological effects include relaxation, drowsiness and slowed breathing.
The body adapts to the presence of methadone and other opiates and grows increasingly tolerant to the effects of these drugs. This means a consumer must take increasingly stronger doses to achieve the same effects. A physician can increase the dosage slowly to avoid serious side effects of rapid dosage increases, especially overdose and death. Unfortunately, many consumers increase methadone dosages without consulting a doctor. Soon, they must take dangerously large doses to get high or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Continued use of any opiate, especially at high doses, also increases the consumer’s risk for addiction and dependence. An addicted person experiences intense cravings and engages in drug-seeking behaviors when she stops taking opiates. A physically dependent person experiences severe and prolonged flu-like withdrawal symptoms when opiate levels run low in their body.
The human body adapts to the constant exposure to the toxic effects of opiates by changing its own chemistry – it becomes dependent on having a certain level of opiates to feel “normal.” When opiate levels drop, the opiate-dependent body struggles to adjust to its new toxin-free chemistry. The opiate-dependent person experiences this detoxification through uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone prevents the onset of these withdrawal symptoms. Because methadone is an opiate, it keeps opiate levels in the body high enough to delay withdrawal symptoms. In relation to heroin and other opiates, however, methadone causes relatively little euphoria, making it a suitable replacement drug.
One of the largest drawbacks to methadone detox is that it is a very lengthy treatment and addictive in comparison to other methods of detoxification. Instead of experiencing minimizing withdrawal symptoms for days – or hours when rapid detox is used – methadone treatments can go on for years. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests patients stay on methadone for at least one year.
People who try to get off methadone after such prolonged use can find it a difficult, uphill battle. In fact, Harvard Medical School says that 25 percent continues to take the drug, another 25 percent of methadone patients eventually abstain, and 50 percent of methadone users go on and off the drug for the rest of their lives.
Methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it is subject to federal regulation. One dose lasts only 24 to 36 hours before withdrawal symptoms set in. This means patients must come to special methadone clinics to receive his medication. Going to a methadone clinic every day for the rest of one’s life is time consuming, inconvenient and often embarrassing.
Using methadone for a long time increases the risk for dangerous side effects, including overdose deaths. There has been a drastic uptick in the number of overdose deaths associated with methadone, with the number of deaths peaking in 2007. In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, 39 percent of all opiate-related overdose deaths were associated with methadone when only one drug was involved. While most of these deaths are associated with using methadone for pain relief, anyone who uses methadone is at risk for side effects including death from overdose effects.
While methadone has an accepted medical use, its federal classification as a controlled substance means it also has a high potential for abuse. Most people who take methadone or other opiate medications do not set out to become dependent upon them. It can just happen with regular use. People who fall into this unfortunate and fast-moving trap may feel like there is no way out. Fortunately, there are a number of safe, quality treatment options for opiate dependency, including the Rapid Detox by the Waismann Method.
Methadone dependency doesn’t have to keep you down any longer. If you want safe and effective detox that provides lasting results, call us at 1-310-205-0808.
“After a 12 year Methadone addiction, I’m coming home clean, with a smile on my face” — Methadone Treatment Patient