How to Get Your Case Worker to Taper You Off

How to Get Your Case Worker to Taper You Off

Three businesswomen
Photographer: Tim Gouw | Source: Unsplash

If you suffer from an opioid or heroin addiction and are currently being treated using methadone maintenance, you're on the right track. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methadone treatment increases the patient's participation in behavioral therapy and reduces ongoing drug use and criminal behavior.

Methadone maintenance is meant to stop the painful withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids and heroin. The goal is to help a person gradually overcome physical dependency instead of cutting them off completely. This is done under medical supervision so the patient can't abuse methadone and can also receive substance abuse counseling concurrently.

However, methadone is a strong drug and you'll need to taper yourself off it when the time is right. If you don't, you could form a separate addiction. You'll need to talk to your case worker about slowly reducing your methadone treatment so you can move on with your life drug-free. But before you do, you need to understand more about methadone's effect on your body.

Understanding How Methadone Treatment Works

Methadone has been used since the 1970s to aid in the addiction recovery process for people who've developed a serious dependency on opioids or heroin. It works by decreasing cravings and reducing the extent of withdrawal symptoms, some of which could be deadly.

What makes methadone treatment so effective is that it actually blocks the intoxicating effects of heroin and other opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. This helps prevent a patient from relapsing and erasing all the work they've accomplished so far.

However, although methadone isn't an opioid, it's still addictive. This is a very strong drug that can produce its own euphoric effects. In fact, it's considered a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it carries the risk of both physical and psychological abuse.

That's why methadone treatment must be performed in a clinical environment. It's also why you must taper off the drug instead of going cold turkey. If you don't, there's a good chance you'll experience withdrawal symptoms. It's imperative you've gone through enough substance abuse therapy and gotten hold of your addiction triggers before you start tapering.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

The necessity to taper off methadone treatment is directly related to the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms that will result if you stop suddenly. Gradually reducing the amount you take will help keep these symptoms at bay. Many of these withdrawal side-effects are similar to those experienced after stopping heroin or opioids. They can include:

  • Depression and other psychological issues such as anxiety, mood swings, and panic attacks
  • Insomnia, especially during the first week
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms including coughing, runny nose, and fever
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cold sweats
  • Stomach issues including cramping and constipation

The threat of relapse is much higher if methadone treatment is stopped immediately instead of tapered. A person may find the withdrawal symptoms too much to handle and return to using methadone, sometimes increasing the dose and frequency. This can be highly dangerous and potentially fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that methadone accounts for nearly one in four opioid-related deaths.

It's important you discuss your progress in the methadone maintenance program with your case worker. You need to have reached a state where no longer feel the effects of the controlled treatment and feel secure in your ability to cope with heroin or opioid cravings once off methadone. Both you and your case worker must feel confident you're mentally prepared to begin a drug-free life.

Tapering Off Methadone in a Clinical Setting

Tapering your methadone treatment should only be done in a medical environment under doctor supervision. Once your case worker has given the green light, you'll need to talk to your clinic and discuss your plan of action. It may be beneficial for your case worker to speak with them as well.

Tapering involves slowly reducing your dosage until you no longer need the drug to combat cravings or feel normal. Your schedule will depend on the level of your previous addiction and how long you've been participating in methadone treatment.

An average tapering schedule involves reducing the dosage by 10% every few weeks. Once you've reduced your dose to the lowest amount, you'll need to decide if you're ready to stop taking it altogether. This is a huge decision that should involve your case worker, doctor, and substance abuse counselor. You may want to play it safe and remain on the low dose for an extended period of time. Some people opt to remain on a low dose indefinitely.

Ongoing Treatment After Methadone

Whether you stop taking methadone altogether or taper down to the lowest dose possible, you'll need to participate in ongoing treatment to increase your chances of recovery. There are several options, including Narcotics Anonymous, one-on-one substance abuse counseling, or group therapy. Your case worker can put you into contact with the right resources.

Receiving ongoing treatment is a great way to help keep you focused on your recovery. You'll also have access to information regarding relapse and coping mechanisms. Most importantly, you'll have a support system in place to help you through periods of doubt and anxiety. This is a powerful tool that can reduce the possibility of relapse.

If you feel that living without methadone is too difficult, speak with your case worker about starting a low dose or increasing your current dose. This is a better option than heroin or opioid relapse. Remember, recovery is a long process and you'll face many hurdles. Use the resources at your disposal to help you prevent becoming addicted again.

Stay Educated

Informing yourself about the addiction issues you face and the treatment options available is critical during your recovery. This is especially important when treating addiction with a drug like methadone. It's crucial you understand what to expect.

It's our goal to educate people about every aspect of methadone, opioid addiction, and detox. Check out more articles about methadone treatment and make informed choices regarding your well-being and drug-free future.


The Opioid Epidemic Story is a Tragedy

The Opioid Epidemic Story is a Tragedy

Opioid addiction is a startling and fast-growing epidemic. Its epidemic growth may be one of the saddest drug addiction stories ever told.

There are whole generations of families and communities being lost to opioid addiction. Opioid addiction keeps growing in communities throughout the US. A professional group became appalled at what they were witnessing and began an opioid awareness campaign.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists opioid epidemic awareness campaign is an effort to inform people about the symptoms of opioid abuse. If an addict wants to get treatment, there is information provided on where to get treatment and help.

But there are no easy answers or solutions in how best to stop the widespread penetration of opioid addiction in the U.S.

How Widespread is Opioid Addiction?

The numbers of opioid addiction are surreal to read about. There are three million people in the U.S. and 16 million globally who suffer from opioid addiction. What's more, those numbers keep growing yearly.

With a population of almost 400,000 in Maldives Male’ houses occupies about 200,000 people including foreign workers. As the local islanders finish their 10th or 12th grade they are somehow  forced to come to city for their higher educations and to look for better opportunities. Its really sad to have one single city developed over 30 years instead of developing islands in different locations in Maldives. The current situation could have been avoided. I hope to see 5 more cities like this in Maldives in different locations so that one place won’t get packed. It’s beautiful from the Sky.
Photographer: Ishan @seefromthesky | Source: Unsplash

How do you know if someone you love is addicted to opioids? There are some common symptoms you can look for. They are;

  • False sense of euphoria
  • Grandiose feelings about self
  • Anxious and irritable
  • Lack of motivation
  • Paranoid or psychotic episodes
  • Quit doing favorite things
  • Hypervigilant
  • Insomnia

Once you start noticing any of these symptoms, there are a multitude of different treatment options you can give them, if you find out they are abusing opioid.

But in the end, it is up to the addict to seek treatment. No matter how bad the opioid addiction is you cannot force another adult to get treatment for an addiction they won't admit they have. Opioids include illegal drugs like heroin. But they also include drugs you can get from a prescription. These prescriptions are for drugs like fentanyl, codeine, and morphine. Because opioid is a legally prescribed drug, many times opioid addicts will tell you they have pain and must take the drug as it is the doctor's orders.

Opioid Addiction Helplines

There are a multitude of treatment options for opioid addiction. There are websites dedicated to information on the opioid epidemic. There are websites which provide opioid addiction treatment options through free online resources.

One of those websites may open up possibilities when providing treatment options for any addict. It may be one word in a sentence or one sentence in a paragraph which helps reach the addict.

Many times it is the other person on the other side of a phone call or helpline who provides hope. There is a hopeful connection website which provides a no cost treatment helpline dedicated to addicts.

Opioid treatment solutions work best when the treatment is customized to the addict's needs. Opioid addiction may have similar symptoms no matter who the addict is but every person is different in how they experience and manage the symptoms of addiction.

Photographer: christopher lemercier | Source: Unsplash

Types of Opioid Addiction Treatment Options

All opioid addiction treatment involves some form or style of various counseling methods. Some of these include, but are not limited to;

  1. One on one counseling which involves goals, motivations, progress and what to do when you have setbacks.
  2. Altering negative thinking behaviors by learning how to have positive coping skills called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is effective when dealing in lives with over-the-top stress.
  3. Giving an addict incentives for not using opioids is called contingency management therapy.
  4. Group counseling can be effective with addicts. This is because when an addict hears other opioid addiction stories the feeling of loneliness is gone. No one should feel alone when seeking addiction treatment. Group counseling also exposes you to new methods and ways to fight opioid addiction.
  5. Many addiction treatment plans include family counseling. Bringing in your partner or other family members helps open the door to communication and healing.

Widespread and Ever-Growing Opioid Addiction

The opioid addiction is not going anywhere soon because the numbers keep increasing and not much seems to slow it down.

More than 130 people die daily in the United States from opioid addiction. It is estimated that over $78.5 billion is allocated to emergency healthcare, treatment and law enforcement due to opioid addiction.

What's amazing is 8-12% of those who receive opioids for pain start abusing the drug. Between 2016 and 2017 opioid overdoses went up 30% in just 52 areas within 45 states.

Opioid addiction isn't slowing down and in fact, many abusers of opioid move on to heroin when they cannot get a prescription or buy opioid on the streets.

The magnification of drug abuse and the fall-out from one drug is almost beyond comprehension.

When opioid addiction happens to you or someone you love the battle isn't just heartbreaking. The drug addiction becomes real with its criminal, psychological, and physical fall-out. The treatment needed becomes required right now.

Opioid Treatment Customized to Your Needs

No one has all the answers to opioid addiction. Nor does anyone have all the answers to the best treatment programs for the disorder. But by spending time in communication learning about the addicts behaviors and symptoms there is a way forward which may help.

There are dedicated personnel standing by to talk to you, offer you treatment information and more. But you have to want to learn about opioid information. You have to want to fight against your opioid cravings.

Most of all, you have to be the one who is ready to face the consequences of your addiction both in body and mind.

There is no addiction easy to conquer. Take the first step in helping yourself escape from your opioid addiction. Don't become part of the statistics of lives interrupted by death well before your time.

Don't become a statistic when there is still so much to discover about yourself. Tell your story to others. Become an inspiration to many people. Your story shouldn't begin and end with only one chapter detailing your opioid addiction.

Widespread opioid addiction is only as strong as its users. It's hold on geographical areas and people weaken when people quit using. Reach out to us today, so we can help you end your use of opioids.