Suddenly stopping the use of medication like methadone can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms. Although it is not always life-threatening, it can be painful and even increase your risk of relapsing. can be extremely unpleasant, which may increase one’s risk of relapse. Additionally, methadone for opiate withdrawals is a tactic that has been used to help detox from opiate drugs. Despite this, it can also put you at a higher risk of becoming addicted to methadone.
Going through a methadone detox, whether it is medication-assisted therapy or treatment for methadone dependence, needs to be done under the surveillance of a doctor. It should be done on a methadone withdrawal timeline and a tapered schedule. If you have been abusing methadone, or another drug, going through a medical withdrawal within a medical detox problem is your best chance at successfully getting through methadone detox.
What is Methadone Detox?
In the 1970s methadone was a drug that was introduced in order to help with opiate addiction treatment. In 2009, it was found that there were more than 100,000 individuals struggling with a heroin dependency or addiction, and regularly taking methadone. This was used as an opiate replacement medication. This is where the need for medical methadone detox comes into play.
Also known as a substitution therapy, methadone is often used as a treatment to replace other opioids, and effectively manage cravings. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful and using methadone as a detox can help immensely.
Is Methadone Detox Safe?
Methadone detox is considered safe as a treatment for opiate addiction under medical supervision. It should also be used in conjunction with therapy as well. Because it is a full opiate agonist, it will not allow the user to obtain a high through other opiates (such as heroin or prescription painkillers). Because of this, it makes methadone is a great option.
Methadone stays in the body for up to 56 hours, but typically around 24 hours in an opioid-dependent patient. This means it works well as a maintenance medication because frequent dosage is not necessary.
Pros and Cons of Methadone
Methadone maintenance therapy is a great option in early recovery. It gives you the opportunity to avoid cravings that originally led to addiction. Not only does it facilitate less of a hurdle to obtaining a job, but it provides balance in life. It can help you get back on track and participate in a methadone maintenance program to show a judge if court mandated.
Another positive aspect of using methadone as a detox method is that it can help reduce alcohol as well. Despite this, after taking methadone it will need to be used on a long-term basis, which can mean if the medication is stopped, it needs to be done in the right manner to avoid a methadone withdrawal.
Methadone is Easily Accessible as a Treatment in Some States
Some states make it easy for those who need methadone to obtain it, while other states make it more difficult. There are states which provide methadone clinic visits in order to obtain dosages and others that provide at-home use. These programs require the patient to account for every dosage, while methadone clinics are required to keep them in a locked container.
Long-Term Use Can Lead to Changes in the Brain
Long-term use of methadone has been known to possibly lead to changes in the brain. This is done by first attacking the nerve cells. Eventually, this can result in changes to both learning and cognitive function.
Side Effects of Methadone
Choosing methadone replacement therapy does not come without side effects. For example, common side effects might include stomach aches, constipation, and sweating. Other serious side effects of methadone include:
- Slowed breathing
- Sexual dysfunction
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of limbs, feet, and hands
- Difficulty urinating
- Lowered blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
While using or going through methadone detox, if any of these side effects are experienced, a doctor should be contacted immediately. This is because your dosage may need to be changed for your personal addiction. Long-term side effects of methadone use have been seen as well, and according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), lung and respiratory problems are most common.
Out of all of these possible side effects, the largest risk of methadone use is abuse. Although methadone is often used to recover from addiction, it is also one of the largest risks. Because it is also an opiate, it can simply become a legal replacement drug for those who are already addicted. This is why some people criticize methadone as a treatment for substance abuse. Although it can help, it can also cause a physical addiction as well.
Combining methadone treatment with other drugs, alcohol, or treatment can cause serious reactions. This is yet another reason why it is essential for methadone to be taken under the close watch of a medical professional.
Signs of Methadone Addiction
Becoming addicted to methadone can occur by simple misuse of the drug, or by going through methadone treatment. Although it is used as a treatment, because it is an opioid, the signs and symptoms are very similar to other opioids (such as heroin or morphine). Methadone stays in the body longer than other opioids, so methadone addiction and withdrawal are typically more severe.
Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms
Known as a method of easing withdrawal symptoms in opioid-addicted individuals, methadone detox can also lead to dependence and withdrawal syndrome. Common methadone detox withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Stomach issues
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased tearing or watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramps
Methadone Detox for Heroin
Becoming addicted to heroin is a serious situation and methadone can help you to avoid the consequences that come along with heroin abuse. Methadone can help users avoid relapse because it fills opioid receptors in the brain. This will result in great results as part of an addiction recovery program.
If you are to become addicted to heroin, you might crave it very strongly. Even if you know the consequences of heroin abuse, it may be impossible to stay away from it. This can make relapse very easy. Even after going through methadone detox for heroin, it can be possible to experience relapse. Although you are less likely to relapse by going through a methadone detox for heroin, it is still possible.
Benefits of Methadone Detox for Heroin
- Reduction in infectious disease risk
- Reduction in criminal activity by stopping drug use
- Improvement in quality of life
- Higher chance of long-term recovery
- Improved social relationships
- Reduction of withdrawal symptoms as a distraction
Methadone Detox for Opiates
Methadone maintenance is a medication-assisted treatment widely used, but there are other treatment programs available as well for those addicted to opiates. Despite this, methadone, also known as buprenorphine, is often viewed as the most effective option for opiate withdrawal. In fact, 25% of people admitted to a methadone maintenance program will eventually stop using methadone. Another 25% will continue to use it, and then others will leave and re-enter substance abuse treatment programs as the years go on.
Is something that is used in various forms of addiction therapy. It is much less dangerous than cold turkey methadone detox and is a better choice regardless of your level of addiction. The main danger of cold turkey methadone detox is that it can be life-threatening. It can lead to cravings and return to drug use if not done on a proper maintenance schedule.
Although methadone is used as a method of detox, it is also a good idea to have a plan to eventually stop using it. The safest way to stop using methadone is to work with your healthcare provider to taper off of it. Tapering helps to decrease the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, it also helps you to avoid relapse.
If you stop using methadone, you should expect the following methadone withdrawal timeline.
Days 1 and 2
Initial withdrawal symptoms in methadone vs suboxone are different. With methadone, they should not show up for at least 24 hours. This means that the first two days are usually not too painful, and you may experience relaxed symptoms such as muscle aches, a faster heartbeat, fever, and chills.
After the initial withdrawal period, you will begin to feel worse. At the three to eight-day mark, your cravings will be extreme. Other symptoms such as anxiety, body aches, nausea, and other flu-like symptoms will range from mild to horrible. It will depend on the severity of your prior use.
After the ninth day, you will usually feel much better than you did for the last week or so. At this point, you will still experience strong cravings and physical discomfort. You may also feel depressed, irritable, and experience gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea.
The last days of your methadone detox should show decreased symptoms. Despite this, you may experience post-acute withdrawal for months or years after you stop using methadone.
Is Methadone Detox Right for You?
Medical methadone detox is something that can work for many people. Despite this, it is not right for everyone, and you should speak to the expert health care Admissions team at Circle of Hope to see if it is right for you.