Methadone is widely known as the drug used at rehab centers to help individuals recover from addiction to other substances. Heroin is the most common drug in question that methadone can help ease users off of. Methadone is a synthetic opioid which means it interacts with the mind and body in a manner similar to heroin and other opioid painkillers. Methadone’s standard use is actually for treating moderate to severe pain stemming from surgery, accidents or chronic conditions.
How Does Methadone Help?
Once someone is prescribed opioid painkillers, they are instantly put at risk of addiction to the severity of impact the drugs have on the user. Eliminating pain is an immense benefit of painkillers when used as directed. The issue comes from the feelings of euphoria and relaxation which are common side effects.
Methadone comes in to address this concern. While still a potent opiate, methadone doesn’t instill this overwhelming sense of euphoria. There are only mild feelings of relaxation but the pain relief aspects are still working at full strength. The strength of methadone means that medication-assisted treatment requires participants to visit their rehab center daily for their dosage.
A unique property of methadone is that it can actually block the receptors in the brain that heroin and other opioids target to create states of euphoria. The implications behind this are that underlying medical conditions causing pain can be treated without as much concern for forming an addiction. Even so, methadone is still an addictive substance that has its own sets of side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone Abuse and Withdrawal
Using methadone for addiction treatment can be boiled down to swapping out a substance for a less dangerous one before proceeding with total detox. Heroin and opioids have some extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, sharing some with methadone. Withdrawal symptoms tend to start within 24 hours after the last dose and last up to three weeks. The symptoms include:
- Profuse sweating
- Flu-like symptoms (runny nose, watery eyes)
- Muscle aches and pains
- Nausea and/or vomiting
If too much methadone is ingested in a small window of time, there is a chance of overdose. Understanding the signs of a methadone overdose can help individuals get help before it’s too late. You’ll want to be aware of the following signs of overdose:
- Discolored fingernails
- Slow and shallow breaths
- Falling unconscious
- Severe nausea and/or vomiting
How Methadone Addiction Forms
As with all medication, it’s important to remember that methadone is not a miracle drug with no downside. Even though it can be an immense help in managing pain and treating severe drug addiction, methadone itself can be the source of addiction and abuse. Patients with a valid prescription can become addicted even if they only use the drug for pain relief as directed.
The brain’s central nervous system starts to alter how it functions to accommodate the presence of methadone. This creates what’s known as a dependency, meaning the brain needs methadone present in order to complete its tasks. If the methadone is removed, the mind goes into a state of panic as it figures out how to operate under normal circumstances again.
The withdrawal symptoms felt once dependencies are broken are often more uncomfortable than the individual wants to experience. Instead, they’ll opt to simply start taking methadone again to feel better. Drinking alcohol or taking benzodiazepines can double up on the depressant nature of methadone making overdosing a more likely possibility when two or more of these are used together.
Because methadone treats such an uncomfortable health issue, stopping use of the drug can prove to be a substantial challenge. When an individual also has a chronic condition that still requires pain management, they may see methadone as the only option they have.
Thanks to advancements in drug treatment and medication management, methadone dependence doesn’t have to be the reality anymore. America’s Rehab Campus has multiple programs to help with methadone addiction and withdrawal. Take a moment to reach out to our recovery team for a free consultation where we’ll address all of your questions and concerns.