Methadone is a synthetic opiate pain reliever useful for treating narcotic addiction and dependence. It is a long-acting synthetic narcotic analgesic that is often prescribed as a substitute for heroin. When taken orally for longer period of time, methadone helps in managing opioid addiction and in recovery due to its longer duration of action. Similar to heroin and morphine, methadone works on opioid receptors and helps in minimizing withdrawal symptoms and in stabilizing patients.
Methadone can be swallowed or dissolved as a pill or can be consumed, dilated, or injected as a liquid. Due to its addictive nature, methadone poses a higher risk of abuse among individuals undergoing heroin addiction treatment. Its abuse can cause lethargy and slows down a person’s reaction. A methadone overdose can cause nausea and vomiting, breathing difficulty and heart problems. An increase in the number of methadone prescriptions for pain management, coupled with ignorance of proper methadone dosage among its users, has led to an increase in the number of deaths due to methadone addiction.
Methadone Abuse, Symptoms, and Effects
As per the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), almost 2.5 million people (above 12 years) reported abusing methadone in their lifetime. Physical and psychological dependence on the drug can also lead to its abuse. Long-term use of methadone can result in tolerance, requiring an increased dose of the drug to achieve the same effect. Methadone overdose is dangerous and can be fatal.
Following are some of the effects of methadone overdose.
- Low blood pressure
- Shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
When the drug is stopped abruptly, an individual experiences extreme withdrawal symptoms. Following are some of the common methadone withdrawal symptoms.
- Abdominal pain
When taken without a prescription or when taken in combination with alcohol or other opioids, methadone can pose a serious problem. It is also dangerous to take methadone along with antidepressants, sedatives or alcohol. A combination of alcohol and methadone can even lead to death.
Following are some of the common signs of methadone addiction:
- Increased drug tolerance
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Obtaining drug from alternative sources or by forging prescriptions
- Consuming more drug than prescribed
- Extreme dependence on drug, leading to disruption of normal life
Treatment for methadone addiction
To treat the complications caused by methadone abuse, it is important to obtain help from one of the recognized methadone drug rehab centers. Methadone addiction can be successfully treated in both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. Due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, methadone addiction treatment is best handled at an inpatient treatment center. At an inpatient care facility, a patient undergoes supervised detox program, along with therapy sessions.
A proper detoxification program helps reduce drug dependence and flush out drug residues from the body. Treatment for methadone addiction can also be obtained in an outpatient care facility that provides complete addiction treatment even when an individual continues with his or her daily life activities.
At a methadone addiction treatment center, in addition to pharmacological treatments, psychological therapies are also administered. After a successful detoxification, treatment at methadone addiction rehab involves therapy sessions, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and individual and group therapies. Therapy sessions help individuals fight cravings experienced during treatment. They also encourage the patients to complete the program. They play an important role in discovering any underlying mental condition that might be contributing to the addiction. After the treatment for methadone addiction, individuals often undergo recovery management program to ensure sobriety and to avoid any relapse.