By Nicole Stopper, Executive Director, Williamsport Family Medical Center, one of Pinnacle’s 13 outpatient opioid treatment programs in Pennsylvania
Today there are many different treatment options when it comes to a substance use disorder (SUD), which is also commonly referred to as drug addiction. From specialized addiction treatment centers and programs to medications to help an individual detox safely as well as medications to help reduce cravings and prevent relapse, treatment for addiction has come a long way.
One of the most commonly used medications in recovery from addiction to opioids, both prescription opioids like hydrocodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl, and illicit opioids like heroin, is methadone.
Methadone, along with a commitment to recovery, evidence-based behavioral therapy, and a strong support system, improves the odds of an individual experiencing long-term recovery from addiction to opioids.
Methadone is a synthetic, analgesic drug used for the treatment of pain as well as to treat narcotic drug addiction. It is similar to morphine with longer-lasting effects. Common brands are Diskets, Methadone Intensol, Methadose, and Dolophine. A prescription is required to obtain methadone.
Why is Methadone Used in Addiction Treatment?
Drug addiction and the process to stop using drugs are ongoing. The first step is to stop the use of the drug whether it be an opioid, alcohol, cocaine, meth, or any other substance. But stopping use is just the beginning. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease and just like other chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, or arthritis, there isn’t a cure. However, with daily maintenance, addiction can be managed and anyone who has a drug addiction can live happy, abundant lives free from the devastating cycle of a substance use disorder.
The first step in reclaiming one’s life is stopping the use of the drug or drugs. Often medications can be helpful in this stage. Medications, like methadone, help in this process. The effects of methadone can help with uncomfortable, often debilitating withdrawal symptoms, support an individual staying in treatment, and also help to prevent relapse.
Discontinuing narcotic drug use such as the use of opioids can be difficult. From anxiety, sleeplessness, nausea, depression, and other issues, the body will crave using the drug again. Often these cravings are very challenging to overcome without the help of a medication such as methadone. Medications like methadone can help the body to adapt by slowing drug cravings and having a calming impact on the body.
What Are Side Effects of Taking Methadone?
Methadone as well as other medications like buprenorphine, naltrexone, and lofexidine, can be very effective in helping an individual with opioid dependence to overcome their addiction. However, as methadone is a narcotic, it can also be abused. This is why methadone is a highly regulated drug. For this reason, patients who are prescribed methadone as a maintenance drug have to go daily to clinics for their dosages.
If anyone uses methadone outside of how it is prescribed, it is considered to be abuse. In fact, methadone has become the drug of choice for some. When someone is taking methadone, one of the side effects is the blocking of the effects of heroin. However, methadone itself produces euphoric effects and for that reason, it is sometimes abused.
Other side effects of methadone include:
- Decreased attention span
- Slower reaction times
- Weakness of muscles
- Lowered blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Reduced reaction to light
It’s important to understand that individuals who are utilizing methadone to help them with opioid addiction are more at risk to becoming addicted to methadone. Methadone is a powerful opioid with side effects of use. If methadone is being abused, there is also a risk of overdose.
If you or a loved one are prescribed methadone, it’s vital to use it as prescribed. If you think you or your loved one may be developing a problem, let your treatment team know.
Methadone can provide immeasurable help in recovery from an opioid addiction if used in conjunction with other recovery tools. Finding the right treatment center that knows how to successfully treat opioid addiction can make all the difference between relapse and long-term recovery. Pinnacle Treatment Centers knows what it takes to help you recover from opioid addiction. Contact us today. At Pinnacle, we save lives.
Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 29,000 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.
Williamsport Family Medical Center
2062 Lycoming Creek Rd., Suite 8
Williamsport, PA 17701