4 Things to Keep in Mind as You Taper off Methadone

4 Things to Keep in Mind as You Taper off Methadone

Opioid addiction is a large problem throughout America. People become addicted to opioids in many different ways. When people are recovering from an accident or injury, they are sometimes prescribed pain killers to minimize the pain that they have to experience. When this happens, they can sometimes become addicted to them. Eventually, the doctors will stop prescribing the drugs to the person and if they are addicted to the pills, they will turn to other opioids to get the feelings they crave and this is where methadone can come into play.

Being able to overcome an opioid addiction by yourself isn’t easy to do. Opioids, such as heroin are readily available, which can make it difficult to stop using. Seeking professional help can make the process easier because you can be prescribed medications, such as methadone to make the recovery easier. It’s important to know that methadone presents its own risks though. The following guide walks you through a few things you need to know about methadone.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid medication that is long acting and commonly given to people who are trying to recover from an addiction to opioids. The idea of taking an opioid medication to battle an addiction to opioids can seem counter-intuitive to some people. The drug is designed to decrease the cravings and minimize the withdrawal symptoms that come when quitting other opioid use.

Like any other opioid, methadone can be addictive. It needs to be taken properly in order for it to be as effective. When you are ready to stop using methadone, it’s important to taper off of it to reduce the withdrawal symptoms that you experience.

Tapering Should be Monitored

Working with a professional treatment facility is the best way to treat an addiction to opioids. An evaluation needs to be taken to determine how much methadone you need to take, when you need to take it and how you need to take it. You need to be sure that the drug is taken properly in order to be as safe as possible at all times. A professional treatment facility will have the knowledge, tools and staff available to make you feel comfortable throughout your recovery process.

At first you will take a larger dose of methadone to decrease the withdrawal symptoms you feel from stopping the use of heroin or other opioid. Over time, the amount you take needs to gradually decrease. The professionals at the treatment facility can ensure that you are safe throughout the tapering process. The amount of methadone you need to take is determined through many different factors, including your weight, age and length of addiction. If you start to experience any withdrawal symptoms, the staff can determine if they need to increase the doses slightly to get minimize the symptoms you experience. Most symptoms last only a few days but treating them as quickly as possible minimizes the chances of you turning to something else to treat the symptoms.

Tapering off Methadone Takes Time

It’s important to be patient when it’s time to taper off of methadone. You cannot simply stop using it because withdrawal symptoms will occur. If you do quit cold turkey, you will feel nauseous, have headaches, have body aches and feel lethargic overall. Many people compare the symptoms to the way they feel when they have the flu but intensified.

When you are ready to stop using methadone, the doses that you take need to be slowly minimized so that your body can adjust to the changes. This can take many weeks to accomplish if you don’t want to have intense withdrawal symptoms. The staff at the treatment facility can monitor how your body reacts to tapering and slowly decrease the amount of methadone that you take when the time comes.

Tapering Can Be Dangerous

When you taper off of methadone, it’s important to know that relapsing is possible if you aren’t careful. There are many people who make the mistake of thinking that they can handle tapering off of methadone on their own. They assume that because they got clean from the other drugs, they were addicted to that they have the ability to quit using methadone cold turkey through sheer willpower alone. This typically isn’t the case.

When you stop using methadone suddenly, your body will go into detox and start to experience intense withdrawal symptoms. Many people figure out that they cannot handle the symptoms and take a dose of methadone to try to stop the symptoms they are experiencing. This can lead to an overdose because they take too much of the methadone for their body to handle.

Tapering Off Methadone requires Additional Care

When you start tapering off of methadone it means that you are going to return to an opioid-free life in the near future. It’s important to combine the methadone treatment with mental health assistance at the same time. You need to be able to identify why you turned to opioids to begin with and what you can do to minimize the chances of relapsing in the future.

You can meet with a psychologist to learn if you have any mental health issues that need to be treated. Properly treating mental health issues allows you to take control of your life without having to continue methadone use. You can also learn strategies to use if you feel tempted to use again in the future. Taking control of your mental health before leaving a treatment program is essential to long term success when it comes to opioid treatment.

When you are ready to stop using opioids, find a treatment facility that offers a methadone treatment program. You want to be sure that not only can you get access to methadone, but also to counseling sessions, inpatient treatment and help with handling the stress that comes with addiction and everyday life. Once you have treated your addiction and are ready to taper off of the methadone, stay at the treatment facility until you are able to live without methadone completely. This will better your chances of avoiding a relapse in the future.

How Long Should You Stay on Methadone?

How Long Should You Stay on Methadone?

It is normal for anyone to want to know the length of a course of treatment before embarking on medical treatment. When it comes to methadone, it is difficult to give one straight answer. Why should you be worried about the length of methadone treatment? For a number of reasons: it is addictive, good outcomes are reliant on sufficient treatment length and it has both short and long-term side effects.

However, the first pointer to these dilemmas is that the use of methadone in medical treatment is safe. You do not have to worry about the aforementioned concerns when you adhere to prescriptions as given by your doctor. The major risk associated with methadone is overdose. This should be avoided at all costs. A number of issues are considered when deciding the duration of methadone use. Be keen and follow these instructions.

Understanding Methadone and its Use in Addiction Treatment

According to substance abuse and mental health services administration, methadone works by altering how the brain and nervous system responds to pain. It blocks pain, the euphoric effects of feeling high and other symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Due to these effects it is often used in the medical treatment of a number of opioid addictions in a process called medication-assisted treatment (MAT) or methadone maintenance treatment.

Medication Assisted Treatment, MAT works with a combination of therapy and taking part in support groups. It provides a comprehensive addiction treatment program. SAMHSA insists that for an individual to receive methadone treatment for opioid addiction, they must be taking part in a drug treatment program actively. Methadone can only be obtained and used through a certified opioid treatment program.

Methadone gives you a similar feeling as the one experienced when you use other opioids and prevents withdrawal symptoms. Some experts call it replacement therapy because it replaces the opioids in the body of an addict with milder effects.

The duration of methadone use will depend on the response to treatment and ability to complete stages of methadone treatment successfully.

Stages of Methadone Treatment

As a patient continues to respond to treatment, the doctor may decide to reduce the dosage of methadone administered as a way of gradually discontinuing its use.

· Acute or Induction phase

In this primary stage of methadone maintenance treatment, the patient’s dosage is adjusted until the patient gets to a comfortable level with the drug cravings and symptoms relief. During this phase, the patient will begin taking part in other treatments such as auxiliary counseling and health programs alongside the methadone.

· Rehabilitative and Maintenance Phase

After you have achieved a stable and comfortable level of dosage, you need to continue with your methadone intake on a daily under a doctor’s watch in a clinic or a care center. The doctor will continue to monitor your compliance to the program such as not taking illicit drugs or demonstrating a positive change in your lifestyle.

Once the doctor is satisfied with your compliance, you will be allowed to have take-home doses per week. For instance, after two years of maintenance treatment, the doctor can consider giving you month-long take-home doses.

· Tapering

Suddenly stopping methadone use could lead to withdrawal symptoms. In spite of the good uses for methadone, it can cause addiction. The risks of methadone withdrawal could cause discomfort and increase chances of relapse. Therefore, there is a medically devised procedure of getting-off methadone. It involves slowly reducing the dosage of methadone administered to a patient until they have safely stopped using it. This method is called tapering.

Patients can start tapering their dosage to get off methadone any time. However, most rehabilitation doctors advise tapering at least a year into the methadone maintenance treatment. According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, prolonged duration of treatment tends to give better outcome. Good outcomes are reliant on sufficient treatment length.

Tapering can take varying lengths, such as weeks and months. The tapering process needs to be slow and comfortable. Slower schedules administered in longer intervals between more regular dose drops, are considered more comfortable than hastened tapering.

How Do I Know That Am Ready To Taper My Methadone Dosage?

It is not possible to expressly know when any person is ready to taper. Some people never reach a comfortable point when they want or are able to taper the methadone use. Progression to each stage depends on the patient’s response and compliance to treatment. However, generally anyone on methadone maintenance treatment must be on the program for a year before the expert can consider tapering or discontinuing use.

Tapering is associated with a significant higher risk of relapse to illegal opiate use and addiction. Therefore, it is really important that no one is forced into beginning their tapering process whether by a clinic personnel, employer or family member.

You can however use this simple guideline to determine the characteristics of patients that are ready to begin tapering their methadone use:

· A reliable income person with a stable home and family life

· Shows a lengthy history of compliance to maintenance treatment program

· Has an available primary methadone counselor, with a workable timing and readiness for the tapering process

· Proves commitment to resume methadone maintenance treatment in case of a relapse

· Avoids abuse of any alcohol or other substances

How Long Should I Stay on Methadone Treatment?

There is no one answer for the definite period that one should stay on methadone. Since methadone is addictive, to stop its use, you need to follow a process. The period of use will depend on the ability to progress well and successfully with different stages of treatment. Also the patient must feel ready to begin the tapering process to stop the medication.

According to NIDA, a couple of patients benefit from methadone use for many years. So the use can continue as long as the patient needs it. They also recommend using the treatment for at least 12 months before considering discontinuing use. It is upon the patient and the doctor to determine whether it is the right time to stop its use. If you would like to get the right support during your methadone treatment program, reach out to us for more information.