Methadone Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
What is methadone addiction? For decades, methadone was exclusively used for treating drug addiction, but over the past ten years, there has been a 700% rise in the number of prescriptions meant for pain relief. This drug was developed by German medics to relieve pain during WWII and is a federally labeled Schedule II substance, meaning it is a licensed drug with the likelihood of being abused and might lead to addiction.
Addiction is a chronic, lapsing brain condition that is manifested by compulsive drug craving and use, despite the obvious harmful effects. It is seen as a brain condition since the drugs alter the brain – its structure and functioning.
What is Methadone?
Methadone is a powerful narcotic painkiller that is often prescribed for the objective of managing moderate to severe pain and for treatment of drug addiction. It is also known as Meth, Dolls, Jungle Juice, Junk, Fizzies, Pastora, or Chocolate Chip Cookies.
This long-acting substance stays in the system for about 22 hours; which means that it’s possible to administer it once per day. It comes in different strengths and appearances, such as ampoules for injection, in a liquid mixture, or tablet for consuming.
The drug acts on the same receptors as heroin and morphine to stabilize the patient and minimize withdrawal signs in case of drug addiction. There are 3 main reasons why methadone is used in opioid recovery:
- It offers long duration effects.
- It can be taken orally and offer the desired result.
- It doesn’t lose its effectiveness even after using for a long duration.
Problems might occur if you use the drug in combination with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or with other opioids or without a prescription.
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How Methadone Works?
When you consume methadone it first needs to be metabolized in your liver to a state that can be absorbed by your body. Excess methadone is stored in your bloodstream and liver and this is how it works its “scheduled or time release trick” and last for over 22 hours. The higher the dose you take the more it will be stored and last.
This is why people on blockade dosages (70 mg per day), dosages meant to reduce the use of the drug, are able to stay for one or two days without their drugs. Of course, the disadvantage of this is that when patients miss their dose they “destabilizes”, which places them at a high risk of overdose should they try to administer the abused drug again. The patient is slowly losing the blockage effect of the drug and might begin to experience drug craving or hunger.
After reaching the bloodstream, the absorbed medicine is gradually passed to the brain when it is required to fill opioid receptors.
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Methadone addiction Side Effects
The effects of methadone are similar to those of other opioid medicines. They include:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Impaired coordination or balance
- Impaired confusion or cognition
It is easier to overdose or misuse methadone than other drugs. The reason for this is that the drug doesn’t produce a high in the same intensity as other drugs, for example heroin; it can be misused to produce the same effects as other opiates. Signs of overdose include the following:
- Bluish or clammy skin
- Blue-tinted fingertips or lips
- Shallow or slow breathing
- Extreme fatigue
Mixing methadone with other medicines or drugs, whether illegal or prescribed, can result in serious heart problems. They can range from arrhythmia to heart attacks.
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Is Methadone Addictive?
Methadone is an opioid and, like other opioids in its class, its continual use carries critical, inherent risk for misuse and addiction development. Because it is a longer-acting, slightly less potent drug, it is unable to provide the same intense effect like that of heroin and other instant, more potent opiate receptor agonist. In short, use of the drug won’t result in instant-onset of highs or intolerable crashing lows.
Still, if patients use this drug by consuming it in high doses (exceed the recommended) as part of an intended maintenance schedule, they will subject themselves to potentially and heightened dangerous effects. They also increase the chance of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms between one dose to the next or should they stop using it completely.
Here are a few facts about methadone that will help you understand how serious this drug is:
- An estimated 1M people in American are addicted or abuse heroin. Over 120,000 of these people use methadone to control their addiction.
- In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC states that the drug accounts for about 1/3 of opioid-related deaths.
- Over 20% of methadone patients undergo treatment procedure for over a decade.
- In 2004, the United State National Center for Health Statistics (USNCHS), medical examiners listed this drug as leading to about 4,000 deaths. 82% are accidental and the involved combined methadone with another drug.
Causes of Methadone Addiction
In most cases, methadone users are people trying to fight heroin addiction. It is one of the major drugs used to help people in the withdrawal stage of heroin. This is because it’s able to reduce the withdrawal effects without producing the “high” or euphoria that heroin create. Although the drug can be helpful in the detox process, patients can become psychologically and physically addicted to it. The drug might leave the user in a vicious cycle of addiction.
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Signs of Methadone Addiction
One of the major signs of methane addiction is withdrawal, which often includes severe symptoms. They include:
They might also include depression as well as mania. This will occur around 24-48 hours after the last use.
The patients might also feel anxious at the notion of stopping use of the drug, and might even hoard it to use in excessive doses to get “high”.
If a person keeps taking the drug despite its negative effects on his life, he needs immediate help as he might be addicted.
Other signs of methadone addiction include:
- Visiting different doctors to get more of the drug.
- Getting the drug from other sources.
- Using this drug with other drugs.
- Neglecting personal and financial responsibilities in order to use the drug.
- Taking the drug through other methods like injections.
The NDIC reports that methadone misuse has increased in the last 2 decades.
Methadone Addiction Help – How to Start?
Because methadone is highly addictive, it might be difficult to quit without help. As a result, rehab centers recognize that an addicted person may need help and guidance to full recovery and living a drug-free life. In case you need help, kindly call us 24/7 on our addiction helpline: 877-959-7271 or fill one of our provided forms.