For decades, methadone has been used to help in the treatment of opioid addiction, from street-level heroin, prescription opioids, and morphine to name a few. A synthetic analgesic, methadone (also known as symoron, dolophine, and methadose) acts as a replacement or substitute for the opioid drug that an individual is addicted and it lessens the withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone is seen as a harm reduction tool, allowing the addict to stabilize and ideally find a favorable long-term recovery outcome. While methadone is safe when taken as prescribed it is a powerful drug and if abused can be highly addictive and can cause significant bodily damage. In those cases, methadone detoxification will be needed to physically and mentally stabilize the addict.
Why Methadone Detox Is Important
Medical detoxification from methadone is important in the fact that methadone itself belongs to the opioid family and with opioid drugs individuals who take them can build up a tolerance. Once tolerance is built up it a person that is addicted to methadone will need to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects. If an individual tries to stop the use of methadone by themselves there are both significant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. The physical withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Chills, which may be accompanied by goosebumps
- Increased blood pressure
- Body pain
- Muscle twitching
- Respiratory complications
Like other drugs in the opioid and opiate family, there are significant psychological effects associated with methadone withdrawal which can include:
- Strong cravings (both physical and psychological)
The strongest withdrawal symptoms occur within the first 24 to 72 hours after an individual stops using the drug. It is crucial that a methadone detox intervention takes place to help minimize the physical and psychological symptoms as well as stabilize the individual for more formal treatment.
Methadone Detoxification Options
Ideally, the process of detoxing from methadone should take place at an inpatient treatment facility that includes consistent medical monitoring around the clock. Since methadone affects each individual differently and differs regarding overall health and previous drug history, the detox process is crucial for both monitoring and adjusting the protocol. There are two main types of methadone detoxification; gradual methadone detoxification and rapid methadone detoxification.
With gradual methadone detox, the dosage of methadone is gradually decreased until usage of the drug is stopped entirely. The gradual method of methadone detoxification is typically carried out in an outpatient treatment facility, and there is little or nothing done to treat the patient’s withdrawal symptoms. This approach is not the most effective unless carried out in an inpatient methadone addiction treatment program.
With rapid methadone detoxification, the process is typically carried out in an inpatient treatment facility. A general anesthetic is administered in order to sedate the patient during the first hours of detox. This sedation typically lasts about an hour and the methadone withdrawal symptoms are eliminated or significantly reduced. Following the sedation, the patient’s physical and emotional well-being is closely monitored by doctors and therapists in order to ensure they are ready to enter into methadone addiction rehab and recovery.
Hydration and Its Role in Methadone Detox Process
In the detoxification process from methadone addiction, adequate hydration should be an important factor to consider is the fact that detox can cause an upset stomach and other digestive complications. Regular consumption of water can help alleviate those concerns and aid the process. Adequate hydration can be achieved by the use of administering liquids intravenously along with the addition of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.