Methadone Treatment: What Are the Effects?

Some drug rehabilitation clinics or Methadone clinics usually administer methadone with the hopes of assisting people to overcome drug addiction behaviors and patterns, while maintaining some legalized and controlled form of opiate intake.

Methadone Treatment

Methadone is a synthetic opioid drug, meaning scientists create methadone from extracts of the opium poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. Like other opioids, methadone is a long-acting analgesic so some physicians prescribe methadone to relieve pain on patients requiring high levels of painkillers. Methadone is an agonist, which means methadone can “interrupt” the actions of other opioid pain relievers. This agonist action is the reason methadone stops physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The History of Methadone

Methadone Withdrawal Detox

Methadone Treatment

While looking for a medical response to a heroin addiction sweeping the nation in the 1960s, New York physicians Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander realized that daily doses of methadone could be an effective treatment and/or replacement for opiate addiction. Recovery specialists began prescribing methadone to help people overcome addictions to opiates, including heroin, morphine, and codeine. Private Methadone clinics started popping up in a large numbers of neighborhoods, where patients line up in the morning for their daily dose.

How Does Methadone Work for Opiate Addiction?

Methadone and other opiates relieve pain and cause euphoria by binding to special opioid receptors in the brain and elsewhere in the body. These opioid receptors are a bit like spaces in a parking garage – the opioid “parks” to take up the entire parking space. When methadone parks on an opioid receptor, there is no room for heroin or morphine to park there. The idea was that professionals would be able to control the amount and what opioid the individual will take by dispensing daily doses.

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Methadone Addiction and Death

Some doctors began prescribing methadone in the 1990s to relieve chronic pain. This new use for methadone is proving to be quite dangerous, as the number of methadone-related fatal overdoses have increased significantly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), methadone-related deaths skyrocketed from 790 in 1990 to 5,420 in 2006. The CDC also reported that Methadone contributed to nearly one in three prescription painkiller deaths in the United States in 2009, when more than 4 million prescriptions where written. This resulted in six times more people dying of methadone overdose in the last decade. The number of methadone overdose deaths eclipse those associated with heroin and other opiate drugs, such as fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.

Methadone Risk Factors

The difference between a therapeutic dose of methadone and an overdose is dangerously small, making it very easy for a consumer to misuse this powerful drug or accidentally take too much. Methadone is not without its risks, especially at high doses; it can slow breathing and disrupt the heart function to cause irregular heart rhythms.

Methadone Withdrawal

Patients use methadone to delay withdrawal symptoms until they learn how to live without drugs. After rehabilitation, the patient must wean himself from methadone or try to quit “cold turkey.” Either way, the patient must eventually suffer the grueling withdrawal symptoms that probably held him in methadone addiction in the first place. In many ways, withdrawal from methadone is worse because methadone is a long-acting drug, meaning it stays in the system longer to prolong the uncomfortable withdrawal process. Furthermore, many methadone patients have used the replacement drugs for many years so they must wean themselves from very strong doses of this opiate.

Methadone Home Detox

Patients who attempt methadone withdrawal alone, without the help of trained medical professionals, face weeks or months of withdrawal symptoms like nausea, joint pain, diarrhea chills, tremors, lack of sleep, anxiety, elevated blood pressure and so many more symptoms that can drive anyone back to drug abuse. Most medical professionals agree that supervised medical detoxification from methadone is much safer than trying to withdrawal from methadone alone by doing an at home detox. The more prominent issue is that there is a large number of prescribing professionals, but very few have the knowledge or the experience to assist individuals with an effective and compassionate methadone detoxification. Often patients that have been on methadone maintenance for a long period of time, feel total hopelessness of ever being freed from this addiction.

Methadone Rapid Detox (High Dose)

Waismann Method ® provides the medical detoxification patients need to successfully overcome methadone addiction by minimizing the withdrawal symptoms, in order to give the patient the best chance to move towards a drug-free life. Our approach treats dependence on even the highest methadone doses, offering hope to patients’ who were told they would be on the replacement drug therapy for the rest of their lives. Waismann Method ® is an anesthesia-assisted rapid drug detoxification, administered in an accredited hospital, where we treat everyone as patients and not like drug addicts. Unlike other detoxification specialists, we do not require patients to switch one opiate for another before detoxification. With our unparalleled experience and knowledge we are able to treat any opiate – we help patients move towards a life free from opiate drugs, including methadone.


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