Methadone Treatment

Published on 1/31/11
Categorized in Heroin Addiction
Methadone Treatment

Methadone treatment is one of the most well-known options for alleviating heroin addiction. Though it is not an outright cure, Methadone treatment has at least proven effective for reducing cravings and withdrawals. This article intends to provide a basic understand of methadone, as well as things that methadone-prescribed patients should keep in mind.

What is Methadone?

Methadone in its Chemical FormMethadone is a synthetic opiod similar to heroin and prescription pain killers, it has been used for nearly four decades in the treatment of narcotic withdrawal and dependence, especially in cases where other treatments and recovery programs have proven ineffective. Methadone treatment has been thoroughly tested and is widely used in the U.S. and parts of Europe and Asia. Administered orally in licensed clinics, methadone treatment eliminates withdrawal symptoms associated with drugs like heroin and prescription drugs and reduces the cravings that are a product of addiction.

How Effective is Methadone Treatment?

The National Institutes of Health has concluded that methadone treatment is highly effective in the recovery and rehabilitation of opiod addicts. It has recommended that excessive regulations regarding methadone treatment be eliminated and that access for patients seeking methadone treatment be increased.

Administered at federally regulated methadone clinics, single methadone treatment typically lasts 24-36 hours and then must be re-administered in the clinic. Methadone treatment is not a cure; sometimes referred to as replacement therapy, methadone treatment must be continued as long as stopping it poses risks for the patient, often indefinitely. Successful addiction treatment using methadone should also include some type of therapy on either an individual or group basis. Clinics are required by the federal government to provide therapy, and many clinics also provide detoxification services in addition to methadone treatment.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there has been no consensus as to the correct dosage that should be used in methadone treatment. Some clinics administer fixed doses to all patients regardless of the needs of the individual patient, while other clinics adjust the dosage based on the severity of the addiction and the withdrawal symptoms associated. Studies have shown that medium dosage methadone treatment is more effective than low dosage treatment and that high-dosage methadone treatment is more effective than low or medium dosages.

Precautions for Methadone Treatment

Those seeking methadone treatment should keep the following things in mind:

  • Methadone is also an opiate, and those seeking treatment should carefully follow the program set out by the healthcare professional.
  • To avoid symptoms of withdrawal, do not stop taking methadone suddenly.
  • Methadone treatment, like any opiate, can cause drowsiness and feelings of euphoria, dizziness and confusion. One should avoid alcohol and operating a vehicle when involved in a methadone treatment program.
  • Other drugs and medications should be avoided during methadone treatment, as these will increase drowsiness and could interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment.

Side Effects

As with any medication, methadone can have side effects ranging from mild to severe. If you experience any of these side effects, you should let your doctor know immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Confusion or faintness
  • Restlessness or nervousness
  • Difficulty urinating

Some more common and less dangerous side effects include the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Clumsiness
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Alternatives to Methadone Treatment

In the 1990s, methadone addiction emerged as a serious issue. As a result the FDA approved treatment with buprenorphine - another drug belonging to the narcotic category - as a substitute for methadone treatment. Recent prescriptions have also been developed, such as Vivitrol, that come in the form of injections but have similarly shown success for fighting addiction. Other drugs, such as dihydrocodeine - a painkiller - have also been approved as effective and less expensive alternatives to methadone treatment.

 

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Sources:
www.nida.nih.gov/pdf/perspectives/vol3no1/methadone.pdf
http://csat.samhsa.gov/publications/MedicalCommunity.aspx

All Treatment does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.

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