Methadone is a legal prescribed opioid that is commonly used in treating opioid addiction. Methadone is usually used long term as a maintenance drug that prevents cravings. Unfortunately, methadone is merely a substitute drug, acting similarly to heroin. It is meant as a harm reduction maintenance drug, but often just increases dependence to opioids resulting in just as severe withdrawals.
This page will explain the risks of methadone abuse and help identify whether you or a loved one needs treatment. Methadone withdrawal is also a large concern due to its severe effects. At the Haven Detox, we offer methadone and opioid detox programs that are safe and comfortable.
Our programs understand how difficult it can be to come off of methadone and stay sober long term, which is why we create individualized treatment plans after a comprehensive detox. Our treatment plans are backed by years of experience and countless successful recoveries from methadone addiction.
Signs of Methadone Addiction
Identifying methadone addiction can be confusing at times. Most people begin methadone treatment or maintenance after being addicted to heroin or another strong opioid. Therefore, when people take it as prescribed, it can seem like they are not addicted. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Anyone taking methadone for an extended period of time is chemically dependent and likely addicted.
Additionally, anyone who is taking more methadone than prescribed, or saving their doses and taking them all at once to get high is exhibiting signs of addiction. Other signs of methadone addiction are similar to opioid addiction. Some of the common signs of methadone abuse include lethargy, fading in and out of consciousness, itchiness, and slurred speech.
If any of these signs are identified, it is likely time to get professional help. It is also worth noting that methadone maintenance is not a long term solution, nor is it sobriety. Methadone should only be used in severe cases that require harm reduction. There are more effective drugs that can be used to taper from opioids.
Risks of Methadone Use
When methadone first became prevalent in the 1990’s, it was praised for its opioid-like properties, and marketed as a treatment for opioid addiction. However, in just a ten year period, methadone overdose rates increased by over 600%.
The number of overdoses from methadone continued to grow until 2014, when methadone was finally recognized as extremely dangerous and detrimental. An article published in the New York Times about the dangers of methadone brought additional awareness of its dangers.
Following this article, the director of the pain rehabilitation program at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio went on record stating that “Methadone is probably one of the very few drugs that I’ve seen doctors almost kill patients with. It’s that hard to use when you first start to use it. If it’s on the street, we’re going to be seeing some deaths”.
The risks associated with methadone abuse can be deadly. Even those who use methadone as prescribed are in for a rude awakening when they try to stop, as the withdrawal symptoms can be more severe than other opioids.
Short term risks of methadone use include low blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing and sometimes death. Long term risks include anxiety, depression, delusional thinking, nerve and brain damage and more.
When it’s Time for Professional Help
If you or someone you know is using methadone not as prescribed, this is a sign that it’s time for professional help. Additionally, if someone is prescribed methadone for an extended period of time and not tapering down their dosage, they are also extremely dependent. These people will also likely need professional intervention. Since the risks of methadone are so high, we always recommend getting off methadone to live a life of recovery and sobriety.
Methadone also has extensive and powerful withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be more uncomfortable and usually last longer than heroin withdrawal. For these reasons, it can be nearly impossible to stop using methadone without a treatment program.
Those who use methadone or opiates for any extended period will build a tolerance to the substance. This means that they will need more of the drug to experience the same effects. This often leads to people taking more methadone, or abusing their methadone prescription. This is why methadone is not truly effective in tapering people off of other opiates.
When people stop taking methadone, their body enters withdrawal. This is accompanied by a slew of symptoms including:
- Chills and sweats
- Body aches
- Intense cravings
Methadone stores itself in fats in the body, which causes it to take longer to leave the body than other opioids. Extended withdrawal symptoms can last over a month for some people. These symptoms are often described as far worse than the withdrawal symptoms of heroin.
Due to these symptoms, it is nearly impossible for people to stop without professional help. Many people try to quit on their own, however they are met with intense withdrawal symptoms and severe cravings for more methadone. This often leads even the most willful to relapse. At the Haven Detox, we offer medication assisted detox programs, as well as other therapeutic options to help make the detox process as comfortable as possible.
Methadone is chemically different from most opiates like heroin and percocet. It functions similarly, but methadone addiction is often far more difficult to overcome. It is important to recognize the consequences of extended methadone use to help motivate people towards professional help and recovery.
Detoxing from methadone usually focuses on a tapered medication protocol, as well as the administration of medications that help alleviate secondary withdrawal symptoms. At the Haven Detox, our process begins with a medical assessment to help determine the specific needs of the patient, factoring in their medical and substance abuse history. We then create an individualized treatment plan that fits the individual needs and offers the highest chances of success.
Following detox, we work with the patient to create a long-term treatment plan which is designed to transition the individual back to normal life and a successful recovery.
Our Detox Programs
Our programs come with medical professionals with years of experience treating methadone addiction. We have detoxed and effectively treated thousands of individuals from methadone. Our program boasts the most comfortable detox available, with withdrawal symptoms being alleviated as much as medically possible.
Following a detox protocol, we offer residential treatment for continued treatment and monitoring of symptoms. During residential treatment, individuals receive intensive therapy and care with evidence based treatment models.
We offer individualized treatment plans created by doctors and professional staff with decades of experience treating methadone and opioid addiction. If you or a family member is struggling with methadone addiction, our admissions counselors are available 24/7. Call us today at 561-328-8627