When we consider methadone rehabilitation, we need to grasp how dangerous a drug it is. The CDC estimates that it’s involved in at least one in three opiate-related deaths. Because of its usefulness, however, society can’t yet give up on it. Methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance. It’s primarily used to help individuals with opiate addiction. It’s a synthetic opioid, meaning it’s not found in nature but was manufactured for a purpose. When this substance was first envisioned, it aimed to help individuals addicted to opiates. It is instrumental in the fight against heroin addiction. Unfortunately, there were side effects to its use.

The US discovered how helpful methadone was in treating opioid addiction in the 1940s. From there, research progressed, focusing on its use as a maintenance drug. This term means that it was used to help maintain someone who had given up opiates. The US Bureau of Narcotics vehemently opposed the research and testing. Their pleas went unheard. The substance grew in popularity during the 1960s and then declined. In the 80s, popularity swelled again since methadone resulted in lower deaths from AIDS and fewer crimes committed on the hunt for opiates. Today, methadone is an effective tool in helping people overcome heroin and other opiates. Unfortunately, it has its own shadow of addiction and dependence.

The Duality of Methadone

Methadone is used to shut down a recovering person’s urges. However, it’s a heavily controlled substance. It is extremely limited in distribution. The clinics that need to use methadone get doses of the compound based on their requirements. When someone has to use methadone, they aren’t allowed to take it outside of the clinic. It’s administered within the clinic by a trained professional. Methadone, despite being developed to break dependence on other substances, can also make a person dependent. The drug attacks the same sites that opioids bind to, lowering the craving that dependency generates. However, someone who is using methadone for recovery may also become dependent or addicted to it. This fact is doubly true for someone who already has a track record for opioid dependency.

Unlike morphine and heroin, the drugs it treats, methadone doesn’t usually create the same euphoric effects. It is a synthetic drug designed to do the complete opposite. It is formulated to block that euphoric feeling from other opiates. If someone is on methadone and tries to get high on heroin, the heroin won’t work. Unfortunately, methadone has sedative side effects, and it’s these effects that lead to euphoria. The euphoric effects produced from the sedative create dependency. They are minor, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has warned that individuals taking methadone aren’t in a fit state to drive. 

Why Is Methadone Still Being Used?

Most non-specialists look at methadone in puzzlement. How can a drug with such a massive potential for addiction still be used as a treatment? There is a distinct difference between methadone and other opiates, which it replaces. Methadone actually offers several benefits to users as compared to other opiates:

  • The source of the methadone is known, whereas heroin may come from an unknown source that may be impure. Since methadone is administered in a clinic under medical supervision while heroin is usually self-administered, it tends to be safer with less chance of an overdose.
  • Methadone is typically taken orally, while heroin needs to be injected. Even where methadone is administered intravenously, the needles used are always clean and disposed of afterward. Heroin needles aren’t usually sterile, and their use may lead to HIV or other infections.
  • Methadone is administered strictly through a clinic. Heroin is bought and sold on the streets. Individuals usually find themselves involved in criminal enterprise when addicted to heroin. 

Because of its usefulness, methadone has found itself on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Even though it’s so helpful as a treatment agent, it can still be abused. A person who uses more than the dosage of methadone prescribed to him or her is abusing the drug. 

Methadone Addiction

Many medical professionals don’t like discussing methadone addiction. Many of them see it as a “necessary evil.” Methadone does indeed prevent overdoses from heroin and other opiates. However, dependence on the drug doesn’t do the recoveree any favors. Dependence and addiction are distinctly different. When someone is dependent on a substance, their body chemistry changes to use that substance. Dependence usually leads to addiction – a brain condition that makes someone seek out the chemical, regardless of the adverse effects on their life. Methadone addiction can be challenging to pin down. Since the person is getting their drugs administered by a medical professional, it might be tempting to overlook their overuse. Yet, it can cause severe problems in a person’s life.

Methadone in Combination With Other Drugs

Methadone in Combination With Other Drugs

While most people use methadone to help them overcome opiate addiction, some use it along with other drugs. Methadone depresses the central nervous system. This reaction allows it to remove the pain associated with withdrawal from other drugs. However, when the substance is used in conjunction with alcohol or benzodiazepines, the results can be disastrous. Individuals may leave their opiate addiction behind and sink into depression and alcoholism. In extreme cases, mixing alcohol with methadone may result in dangerously low blood pressure and a respiratory system collapse. Ideally, if someone is on methadone, they should never use the substance with something else. Even herbal remedies should be avoided.

The Steps In Methadone Rehabilitation

The numbers on methadone addiction may not be accurate. If so, it paints a grim picture for individuals who have become dependent on the drug. While methadone dependence might help control other opiate urges, it can also cast a shadow over a person’s life through addiction. Recovery starts with going to a methadone rehab center. At the center, the staff will help you get ready to stop using methadone altogether.

Methadone Detox

The first step in methadone rehab is detoxification. Methadone tends to stay in the body longer than other opiates. Because of how long it sticks around, the chemical is still in the person’s body even after the effects on their brain wear off. This reason is usually why people overdose on methadone. It’s easy to forget that the drug is still in their system. To recover their previous feelings of euphoria, they overdose.

Methadone detox can be as intense as heroin detoxification. The effects of methadone withdrawal can be severe and last for a significant amount of time. Typically, when someone’s body becomes dependent on methadone, stopping its use suddenly can put the body into shock. The cravings start growing, and this leads to symptoms of withdrawal. Ideally, to reduce or curb the length of withdrawal, a medical professional may attempt to wean the person off methadone. This process involves slowly lowering the dosage of the substance to an acceptable amount over time. Since methadone affects the same parts of the brain as opiates such as heroin and morphine, withdrawal symptoms are similar:

  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Vomiting or Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Muscle Aches and Pains
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Anxiety

Because of the body’s dependence on the drug, attempting to quit “cold turkey” can lead to severe symptoms. The intensity of the withdrawal symptoms can vary by how dependent on the substance the person may be. Additional complications may also come up. Pregnancy, for example, may add to the difficulties. While it is safe to take methadone during pregnancy, withdrawal while pregnant may require medical intervention.

Methadone rehab centers usually have staff on hand to deal with issues such as these. Additionally, the team is likely to wean the person off methadone over time slowly. The tapering has the effect of reducing the most severe of symptoms. If the person has been misusing methadone or is addicted to higher doses, the weaning period may need to be longer to cater for this shift. Some physicians may also administer other medications to help with the pain and the cravings. Detoxification may take a while, but it’s a necessary step in kicking the habit. After methadone detox, a person has the option of inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Main Settings for Methadone Rehab

Methadone may be treated either through inpatient or outpatient means. Both of these approaches have their own benefits and drawbacks for the recoveree. The choice of inpatient or outpatient treatment should be based on the level of dependence and what a person needs to recover.

Inpatient Clinics

Individuals who enter inpatient clinics get access to 24-hour care. They must stay at the facility, where they may be monitored to ensure they are remaining off the substance. These facilities take maintenance of sobriety seriously. As a result, no addictive substances are allowed within the facility’s walls. This isolation makes it less likely for a person to fall back into substance use.

Additionally, staying at the facility ensures that there isn’t any external stimulus that might trigger the person back into use. Therapy sessions also help the person come to terms with their condition and help them recover. The isolation helps a recoveree to focus. They tend to be more expensive than outpatient facilities since they charge for room and board. However, in some cases, they provide a better option.

Outpatient Clinics

At an outpatient clinic, a person has a bit more freedom. They can return to their regular lives and jobs without having to isolate themselves. The only difference is that they attend the outpatient facility at their scheduled times to get counseling and therapy. In these situations, the individual should have access to reliable transportation to get them to and from the outpatient center. They need to attend every session. Introducing gaps in their treatment can lead to adverse outcomes and even relapses. 

A majority of persons opt for this method. There is far less disruption to their daily lives as a result. They can return to their lives as usual and even stay at home while going through treatment. This convenience allows them to pay less since they aren’t staying at a facility. However, it requires a bit more willpower than an inpatient facility. Individuals may encounter things that draw them back into their previous lifestyle. If a person has enough willpower, they can manage outpatient treatment. 

Which Treatment Method is Better?

This question is challenging to answer because it depends on the person. Methadone rehab happens through dedicated therapeutic intervention. To determine what works best for any person, they’d need to examine the individual’s current physical and mental state. Many rehab centers have expert personnel on hand to offer an evaluation of a person’s condition. From this, they can determine whether inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment may be better. Inpatient treatment tends to have a more significant impact on individuals:

  • with severe dependency and addiction
  • who may have a dependence on more than one drug
  • with co-occurring mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression
  • demonstrating a medical condition that needs treatment
  • without a solid and sober system of moral support
  • with a history of relapsing out of programs
  • without reliable transportation to the facility

If a person falls into any of these risk categories, it may be better to seek inpatient treatment.

Methadone Rehabilitation and Recovery

Recovering from methadone addiction and dependence requires making a choice to change. Therapy can help individuals cope with recovery. Feelings of guilt and the reasoning behind decisions all come under scrutiny. These therapy sessions help a person understand themselves better and give them the tools to remain off the substance. Proper recovery only occurs when the substance no longer has a firm grip on their mental state. Choosing a methadone rehab center is the first step in overcoming dependence. Find Addiction Rehabs can help a person find the rehab clinic that offers programs appealing directly to their particular condition. The best time to think about leaving substance behind is now. Let us help you get back on your feet at a convenient rehab center.