Opioid addiction is notoriously difficult to overcome, especially without professional help. Opioids have caused a nationwide epidemic of addiction and overdose, and each year, the situation worsens. However, there are diverse treatment options out there, and some have been shown to help people get back to living healthy and productive lives. 

Methadone is a prescription drug in the opioid class that has been the flame used to fight the fire of opioid addiction for many years. While it has been controversial, it has helped to remove people from active addiction lifestyles to pursue productive lives. 

Methadone is used to treat addiction in two ways: as a way to use smaller and smaller doses of a controlled opioid to wean people off active opioid use and for methadone maintenance, a method of long-term treatment. 

Methadone maintenance has shown to keep people in treatment longer because it helps to avoid opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. However, it can cause chemical dependence as well, and the longer you use it, the harder it will be to quit. In fact, methadone withdrawal symptoms are reported to be even more intense than other opioids. Methadone detoxification can be extremely uncomfortable and requires medical services.

When abused, methadone can cause euphoria like other opioids, which is part of the reason the drug’s use in treatment needs to be closely monitored. However, it’s commonly used in addiction treatment, and it can also be used as a painkiller. If you, or someone you know, has been prescribed methadone or if you’ve used it recreationally, it’s important to know the signs of abuse and addiction. Learning about the symptoms of an opioid use disorder can help you get the guidance you need before addiction causes some of its more serious consequences. 

Learn more about methadone addiction and how it can be treated. 

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid that’s used for the treatment of opioid addiction. While less common, it also can be used to treat pain and may be used in conjunction with other opioids in rotation to avoid dependence or tolerance. Methadone has a long half-life when compared to many other opioids and can remain effective for hours. Analgesic effects can last for eight to 12 hours, but it can stave off withdrawal symptoms for a day or two, which makes it useful as a maintenance drug.

Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain that are designed to bind with naturally occurring painkillers called endorphins. These chemicals manage the pain response in the body and bind to sites all over the body, in the spine, and in the brain. However, the body is designed to let you know when something is wrong. If something is causing damage, pain alerts you to avoid continued issues. Endorphins take care of mild pain and help you to relax. One of the ways you feel endorphins the most clearly is after a tough workout through a phenomenon called runner’s high. However, serious pain needs medical attention.

Opioids are powerful versions of endorphins that are found throughout nature and exist for several purposes in addition to analgesics.  Several opioids have been used to treat pain in humans with a high degree of success, but with some serious adverse effects. Opioids can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction if they are used in high doses, used for too long, or used recreationally. 

Even as a medication for the treatment of opioid dependence, methadone has a high risk of abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Methadone Addiction

Addiction is a chronic and complex disease, but it often comes with some warning signs. Learning to identify these signs can help you get the assistance you need as soon as possible. Even addiction to prescription opioids can lead to illicit drug use, legal trouble, and an increased likelihood of developing intravenous diseases. Treating a substance use disorder early can help to avoid many of the most dangerous consequences of addiction. 

An opioid use disorder may start with the feeling that you are becoming more tolerant to a standard dose. Tolerance is less likely to occur if you take the drug as directed by your doctor; however, abuse can lead to tolerance fairly quickly. If you continue to use and take higher doses to make up for tolerance, you may soon develop a chemical dependence. 

Chemical dependence occurs when your body starts to get used to the presence of a psychoactive substance and starts to rely on it to maintain normal functioning. Your nervous system may start to decrease its production of naturally occurring chemicals that would have the same effect as the drug.

If you abruptly stop using, there will be a sudden lack of that chemical in your system. When it comes to opioids, endorphins affect your entire body. When there is a lack of them, the shock to your system may produce symptoms that mimic the flu. 

Opioid withdrawal can cause:

  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting  
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Goosebumps
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors 

If you or a loved one is exhibiting these symptoms, you may need help from an addiction specialist to overcome a substance use disorder. Addiction also comes with behavioral symptoms like isolation, loss of interest in normal activities, trouble at work or school, a strange sleep schedule, and lying about drug use. 

Finally, addiction is characterized by the continued, compulsive use of a drug despite the consequences. If you continue to use after medical complications, legal trouble, financial problems, or social consequences that are related to drug use, you may have a severe substance use disorder.

How Is Methadone Addiction Treated?

Methadone addiction is a complicated disease, and it requires a complex solution. That’s why the most effective addiction treatment involves a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Treatment involves a process that addresses both addiction and any underlying issues. For that reason, treatment should address any medical, psychological, social, legal, and financial needs you might have. 

The most pressing needs are addressed first, and this usually means medical problems related or unrelated to drug use. Withdrawal and other medical problems are treated in medical detox, which is the highest level of care in addiction. Detox is 24-hour medically managed care that lasts for about a week. You may receive medication that helps with uncomfortable symptoms, and you will be monitored at all times to help avoid any medical complications. Opioid withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening, but it can cause symptoms that can lead to dehydration which can be dangerous. 

After detox, you will have help from clinicians to find the next level of care for your needs. If you need highly intensive care, your next stop might be an intensive inpatient treatment program. If your condition is stabilized, your psychological and emotional health is manageable, and you are living in a positive recovery environment, you may enter intensive outpatient or outpatient treatment. 

Through the treatment process, you will go through a variety of therapies based on your needs which can include individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and a variety of behavioral therapies.

Methadone Addiction Stats

  • An estimated 115 people die from opioid overdose every day.
  • Opioid medications were involved in more than 49,000 deaths in 2017.
  • 80% of people who use heroin, first misused prescription opioids.

Finding Help with Methadone Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with dependence or an opioid use disorder, there is help available to help you achieve lasting recovery. To learn more, speak to an addiction specialist at The Palm Beach Institute at (855) 960-5456. Call anytime to hear more about your options for addiction therapy and treatment. Addiction may be a chronic disease, but it’s one that’s treatable with the right therapy options and guidance from certified clinicians. Start your road to recovery today.

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