Included in the opiate analgesics class of medication, methadone is a medicine that is used to manage severe pain in individuals who cannot be treated with other milder medication. It usually comes in a tablet, liquid, or wafer foam and is mostly prescribed to be taken by mouth every 8 to 12 hours.
Methadone has the potential to form an addiction, and hence, you should seek the guidance of a professional in taking it to relieve severe pain. Make sure to never take larger doses in such cases: instead, take it more frequently or take it for a longer length of time. If you or your family member has had addiction issues with alcohol, street drugs, or prescription painkillers, make sure that you communicate this to your doctor before you receive methadone treatment. Individuals with these issues are more at risk of overdosing on methadone and, thus, should enlighten their practitioners on it.
Although methadone is also used to treat severe pain, it is mostly recognized for its role in managing the withdrawal symptoms in individuals with Opioid Use Disorders (OUD) by changing the way the brain and the nervous system respond to pain. The medicine works by producing a similar effect to opioids and by preventing the withdrawal symptoms in people who have stopped using opioids. Methadone usually cannot be taken without a prescription. If you wish to take methadone to break free from your OUD, you can do so only through a rehab center/treatment program that is approved by the state and federal governments. You will need to take the doses under the supervision and monitoring of the treatment center practitioner or staff.
When taken as part of an OUD treatment, methadone can only be taken once a day, after which it works its way to reduce the cravings for opioids and the withdrawal symptoms within 24 to 36 hours. Methadone works quite quickly in reaching the spinal cord and brain. It also blocks the sense of euphoria that is developed by consuming opioids or other drugs. Methadone is an essential medicine for the treatment of OUD and is listed on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Its importance was mainly highlighted through much research that was carried out to identify its significance in treating OUDs. Research found that:
- Methadone assisted treatment, also known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) significantly reduced drug injecting, which in turn led to reduced HIV transmission.
- Methadone treatment has significantly reduced deaths due to opioid dependency.
- Methadone treatment has reduced criminal activity that is associated with opioid dependency.
- Methadone doses that are higher than 60 mg are the most effective in treating OUDs.
Is Methadone an Opioid?
Methadone is indeed an opioid that is widely used to treat OUDs and other substance use disorders. It acts on the same opioid receptors to minimize the withdrawal symptoms in individuals who wish to overcome their opioid addiction. Since it is an opiate, it also has certain qualities that make it addictive. However, once methadone is misused to get high, it can lead to even severe mental impairment and physical dependence on the medicine. Individuals to whom methadone has been prescribed for overcoming OUDs are also more at risk of abusing methadone, as they already have a history of opioid addiction.
When methadone is taken as prescribed, an individual can experience side effects such as sedation, dry mouth, muscle weakness, drowsiness, droopy eyelids, high blood pressure, and little reaction to light. But when had in large doses, it can produce a “high” feeling, and this euphoria can be increased based on the administration of the medicine – for example, through IV use. However, undergoing methadone treatment is usually safe and isn’t like being dependent on opioids or other drugs. Apart from this:
- It is also safer for a patient to take methadone under the monitoring of a practitioner than it is to take illegal drugs in a dangerous manner.
- HIV is not easily transmitted by taking methadone, as it is usually taken orally unlike heroin that is taken through needles.
- Unlike heroin, methadone treatment does not incite aggressive behavior in individuals that could lead to criminal activities.
Methadone treatment is one of the safest and most effective ways to treat OUDs. If you are in need of this treatment to overcome your opioid addiction, contact us today to get started.
Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 28,000 patients daily in California, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. With more than 110 community-based locations, Pinnacle provides a full continuum of quality care for adult men and women which includes medically-monitored detoxification/withdrawal management, inpatient/residential treatment, partial hospitalization/care, sober living, intensive and general outpatient programming, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. For more information, visit pinnacletreatment.com or call 800-782-1520.
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