Methadone 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.
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:
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:
Some more common and less dangerous side effects include the following:
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. Other drugs, such as dihydrocodeine - a painkiller - have also been approved as effective and less expensive alternatives to methadone treatment.
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