If you are suffering from an opioid addiction, you may be offered the replacement drug methadone as part of your addiction treatment.
Methadone detox is commonplace at many rehabilitation centres.
Substance dependency is never an easy thing to go through, but addictions to opioids such as heroin can be particularly nasty- these drugs are highly addictive, and the physical and psychological effects of withdrawal can be incredibly painful, even life threatening.
Methadone can help to wean addicts off of heroin and other opiates, easing the withdrawal period and making the process a whole lot safer.
However, this medicinal drug is not without its own risks or complications, so if you are suffering from opioid dependency it is important that you understand exactly what methadone is and how it is used.
What is Methadone?
Methadone is itself a synthetic opioid. It is generally used as a powerful painkiller to help moderate severe pain, but it is also often used to treat opiate addictions.
When taken, it activates all the same receptors in the brain as other opioids like heroin. However, unlike heroin, methadone activates these receptors slowly and so it does not produce intense feelings of euphoria. In other words, it does not lead to the same sort of high that addicts find themselves continuously chasing.
Because it interacts with the brain in the same way as other opiates, without inducing all of the positive feelings, it can be used to help patients give up heroin without having to suffer through all of the terrible withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone is usually stored and administered in the form of a liquid, but it can also come in tablets. It is a highly regulated drug, which means you can only legally acquire it with a prescription.
Because of the various risks associated with the use of methadone, administration of the drug is almost always limited to the detox clinic.
Over recent years it has become increasingly available on the black market, but taking this drug without professional medical supervision and control is incredibly dangerous.
What are the risks associated with Methadone use?
Unless you are prescribed methadone as part of residential addiction treatment for opioid dependency, you should not take this drug. While it does not induce the same highly euphoric sensations as other opiates like heroin, it is still an opioid and thus is itself highly addictive.
It is especially easy to develop a methadone addiction if you take the drug without medical supervision because of its muted effects- to be able to feel any noticeable alteration in state, many users consume dangerously large quantities of the drug.
The dangers of consuming unregulated prescription drugs cannot be overstated. If you buy methadone off the street there is no way to know how concentrated the liquid is.
And because the effects of methadone are less immediate and euphoric than other opiates, it is likely that black market dealers will offer stronger doses so that their customers do feel a difference when taking the drug.
If you do not know how strong the dose is, the likelihood of an accidental overdose increases dramatically. To give you a sense of how serious the danger is, the number of poisoning deaths related to methadone increased from 790 to 5,420 between the years 1999 and 2006.
Overdose is also a significant danger if you are attempting to use methadone to self-medicate. Whilst methadone is often successfully used to wean addicts off heroin, many users find themselves actively taking both drugs side-by-side. Because they are both opiates, this drastically increases the risk of an overdose.
So if you are suffering from an addiction to heroin, you should instead seek professional detox at a rehabilitation clinic. Residential treatment centres offer the only environment in which the use of methadone is safe.
As well as addiction and overdose, methadone use carries with it a number of smaller, but undoubtedly uncomfortable, side effects. According to the NHS, common side effects of methadone include constipation, nausea, headaches, confusion, changes in mood and hallucinations.
Drowsiness is also a common side effect, due to the drug’s nature as a painkiller, but this effect is particularly worrying because strong doses can lead to comas and can even stop breathing.
What is the best way to Detox from Methadone?
While a methadone addiction is not quite as dangerous as a heroin addiction, it can still be an incredibly painful experience and can in severe cases prove life threatening.
The symptoms of methadone withdrawal manifest in the same sorts of ways as most other substance dependencies. Sufferers can expect to experience chills, fever, intense nausea, paranoia, insomnia, aches and pains, anxiety, depression and even hallucinations and seizures.
You might be tempted to try and get off methadone on your own by going cold turkey.
This is possibly the worst thing you could do, as completely cutting out the drug will only exacerbate any withdrawal symptoms you experience and, ultimately, will lead to you taking more methadone to satisfy your increased cravings.
Doctors generally recommend gradually tapering off use to make the withdrawal process less painful.
The safest and most effective way to overcome a methadone addiction is to undergo rehabilitation at a dedicated clinic. As with any other substance dependency, addiction to methadone can be combated via a combination of detox, counselling and holistic therapies
At Cassiobury Court we offer a range of drug rehab treatments and are well suited to help sufferers of methadone dependency achieve a full, long-term recovery.