Opioid Addiction and Methadone as a Treatment Option

What to Expect from Addiction Treatment With Methadone Pills

methadone pills
Written by fritzie

Opioids claim the lives of 115 Americans every single day. In fact, hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S. mourned the lives of 630,000 who died from drug overdose between 1999 and 2016.

So, yes, the threat of opioid is real, and it’s as life-threatening as it can get.

Granted, achieving sobriety may seem impossible, especially to those who fear opiate withdrawal symptoms. But the possibility of a losing your life due to overdose is much scarier.

The good news is, you don’t have to become part of the statistics. Treatment through methadone pills can combat narc addiction and let you live a meaningful life once again.

What exactly are these pills though? What can you expect from methadone treatment?

We’ll address all these questions and more in this post, so, read on.

What is Methadone?

Methadone falls under the opiate or narcotic class of analgesic medications. Its roots trace back to the Second World War. Its introduction to the United States led to its wide use as a treatment for people suffering from extreme pain.

In terms of pain treatment, this drug works by altering the processes behind the brain’s and nervous’ system response to pain. To put things in perspective, 31 million Americans suffer from back pain alone. As if that’s not enough, as much as a third of U.S. adults experience more pain than people from other countries.

No wonder methadone has become a go-to for millions of Americans with chronic pain. But that’s not all that the drug can do.

It now also sees use in the world of addiction treatment. It may sound counterintuitive, but studies confirm its benefits in people recovering from opiate addiction.

How Does Methadone Work?

So… How does methadone treatment help you become sober? First, let’s take a look at how someone feels when on this medication.

As mentioned above, methadone affects the brain’s and nervous system’s pain response processes. These changes then result in relief from pain. Note that the drug needs more time to take effect than more potent painkillers, such as morphine.

Contrary to popular belief, methadone doesn’t deliver “euphoric” effects. In fact, it has the opposite effect; it blocks these highs that codeine, morphine, and oxycodone are notorious for.

It does, however, give similar sensations. But what’s more important is its ability to prevent symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal.

In essence, methadone replaces the more dangerous opioids in a patient’s system with milder or reduced effects. In the world of addiction treatment, this is (or part of) “medication assisted” or “replacement therapy“.

How Opiate Treatment Works with Methadone Pills

Methadone is available in several forms, with the pill and liquid being the most common. You’ll also find this drug in wafer form.

In most cases, doctors instruct their patients to take the drug once a day. How long before the effects wear off depends on how high the dose is. In general, though, the pain-relieving effects last between four and eight hours.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends higher doses of methadone for patients with heroin addiction. According to the organization, higher doses can help them stick to their treatment programs.

Methadone maintenance treatment is more effective when administered as part of a more comprehensive treatment program. That said, it’s best that you also receive counseling and participate in other drug addiction support programs.

You can only receive methadone under physician supervision. This means you can only take the medicine in the presence of a doctor. But once your body has acclimatized to it, such as when you’ve shown consistent progress, you may receive permission for at-home methadone treatment.

Keep in mind that the law only authorizes SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment programs to dispense this drug.

How Long Does Methadone Treatment Last?

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to methadone treatment. You may need the treatment longer (or shorter) compared to other patients.

However, most doctors opt for 12-month programs. There are even some who need to undergo the treatment for longer than one year.

What’s important is to avoid going cold turkey or suddenly going off the drug. Methadone is still a drug, so a sudden cease of its use can cause withdrawal symptoms. That would only defeat its main purpose.

As such, even if you feel fine and ready to stop treatment, talk to your doctor first. Methadone can pave the way for your opiate recovery, but only if you take it as instructed.

The Potential Side Effects

Like with any other medication, methadone side effects can still arise. You should take these seriously, as some of they may warrant professional medical help.

Contact your doctor if you or someone you know on methadone exhibits the following:

  • Shallow breathing or breathing difficulties
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rashes or hives
  • Swelling affecting the throat, tongue, lips, or even the entire face
  • Chest pains
  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Confusion or hallucination

Although methadone is safe (doctors have prescribed it for many years now), some people may have adverse reactions to it. So, keep a lookout for these side effects of methadone and react promptly if you notice them.

The Promising Outlook

Without treatment, those who have an addiction to opioid has a 90% chance for relapse. Medication, such as methadone pills, cut this rate by half. However, methadone patients need to continue their medication as directed, or they also run the risk of relapsing.

As such, you need to prepare yourself for a long-term treatment with methadone. It may take a year or more, but the benefits that you’ll enjoy are more than worth it.

If you’re ready to talk about your opiate addiction or know someone who needs intervention, don’t wait until it’s too late to get help. You should also check out our blog to find out more about methadone treatment.

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fritzie

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