Benefits & Risks of methadone to combat opiate addiction

What to Expect: Symptoms of Methadone Withdrawal You’ll Encounter in Detox

methadone detox

Are you or a loved one thinking about quitting your methadone treatments cold turkey? Do you wonder about the symptoms of methadone withdrawal?

Methadone is a synthetic medication that is designed to help people withdraw from heroin. Doctors recommend that you stay on it for at least one year, and never try to quit suddenly.

If you need more information about methadone, this article’s for you. We’ll share the ins and outs of methadone detox and get you connected to a rehab center.

Is Methadone an Opioid?

Every year, more than 65,000 people overdose on drugs. Surprisingly, about two-thirds of all drug overdoses involve opioids.

Opioids are man-made chemicals that were over-prescribed starting in the late 1990s. Drug manufacturers promised doctors that their patients wouldn’t get addicted.

Flash forward 20 years and there are about 2 million Americans struggling with opioid addiction. Opioids include methadone, codeine, hydrocodone, and Demerol.

Opioids are also referred to as “narcotics.” They are strictly controlled by pharmacies and are never sold over the counter.

The scary thing about opioid addiction is how easy it is to get these drugs. Instead of having to find opioids on the street, patients can simply fill their prescriptions.

Methadone is an “opiate agonist,” which means that it combats the highs associated with opiates. It has the potential to be abused, however, and methadone withdrawal can be brutal.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

If you’re wondering how to tell if your loved one is taking methadone, there are some telltale signs.

The most important thing to keep an eye on is your loved one’s weight. Most drug addiction will cause weight loss, but how much is too much?

In general, you’re looking for rapid, unexplained weight loss. Your loved one may have lost the desire to eat, or they may only eat at certain times of day.

This could be an indication that they’re waiting to “come down” from their high.

Another sign of opioid addiction is increased blood flow to the face. Opioids make addicts appear to be blushing, though the redness could spread to the entire face.

Methadone users might also have dramatic personality changes. They could become overly sensitive to light and noise.

They might also become angry after a few days if they don’t have access to their drugs.

If you suspect that your loved one is addicted to prescription painkillers, you might want to look into rehab options. Often, insurance will cover the majority of the program.

Rehabilitation facilities allow your loved one to detox at their own pace. They can relax, get some sleep, and create a new future for themselves.

Common Symptoms of Methadone Withdrawal

Supervised rehab is much better than going through methadone withdrawal cold turkey. While the first week is the roughest, withdrawal symptoms can extend for weeks.

The first thing that happens during methadone detox is a feeling of restlessness and anxiety. These symptoms can last up to three days.

At first, your loved one might also perspire more than usual and be unable to sleep.

Once they make it past the three-day mark, their methadone symptoms may be more intense. They may have uncontrolled cravings for opioids, severe diarrhea, and extended periods of vomiting.

Those are the most common symptoms in the first week. Once your loved one has fully detoxed, they are much more vulnerable to an accidental overdose.

They might try to take a large dosage but not have that kind of tolerance built up.

Benefits of Supervised Rehabilitation

In general, it’s better to undergo supervised rehab instead of quitting on their own.

That way, your loved one is in a safe environment where they’re able to access therapy and the proper medication.

If the plan is to slowly decrease the methadone dosage, you should know that the tapering process takes about 12 weeks. Again, it’s best to consult a doctor.

If you’ve been prescribed an opioid for pain management, you might want to avoid taking it. There are other options for people with chronic pain, and the cost of addiction is too high.

Getting addicted to prescription medication can happen to anyone. If it’s your family member, you might be shocked at first.

It’s natural to be surprised at your loved one’s drug abuse, but don’t let them tell you they’ll quit on their own. They’re going to need a supportive environment to get better.

Risks of Long-Term Opioid Addiction

It’s never too late to get started on treatment for opioid addiction. Even if your loved one has been abusing prescription medication for years, it’s still possible to get treatment.

There are doctors and treatment facilities that would rather help patients remain on methadone. They may not discuss the option to detox from methadone.

If detoxing is the goal, make sure you speak with your doctor.

Overdosing in methadone is a very real possibility, and it’s a bad idea to mix the drug with alcohol. Pregnant women can cause damage to their fetuses by withdrawing from the drug, resulting in miscarriage or death.

If a woman uses methadone during her pregnancy, she also runs the risk of having a baby with an addiction.

More risks of long-term opioid abuse include learning disabilities, memory problems, and attention issues. Opioid abuse can also impact the lungs and heart.

How to Avoid Relapsing on Opioids

Once you get past all of the uncomfortable symptoms of methadone withdrawal, it’s time to plan the rest of your life. If you’ve been having a problem with prescription medication, let this article be your intervention.

Again, you might be surprised at the services your insurance will cover. Time is of the essence when you’re talking about opioids, especially since the next dose could be fatal.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, take a few minutes and have a look at our blog. We have comprehensive information about methadone and can help you find a rehab facility in your local area.

If you’ve got questions, send us a quick email online or cal us at 855-976-2092. We’re happy to help you in your journey to recovery.

Sources


[1] Understanding the Epidemic | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center. (2018, December 19). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

[2] Genetics Home Reference. (2017, November). Opioid addiction. Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/opioid-addiction

[3] Possible Harmful Effects From Prolonged Use Of Methadone. (2011, March 24). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/220086.php

[4] What Is Methadone: Side Effects, Uses, Risks. (2017, August 30). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/what-is-methadone#1

 

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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