Methadone Treatment for an Opioid Addiction

How It Works and Is It Safe?

Methadone is, by far, the most studied and researched medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. This medication comes in the form of a liquid solution or a dissolvable tablet and is taken once daily. Methadone is capable of impacting an individual’s central nervous system in ways that stop the onset of withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings for continued opioid abuse. Having been used since the 1960s in opioid recovery programs, methadone has decades of clinical research backing its safety and effectiveness.

Numerous studies have proven that when methadone is utilized as prescribed by a treatment provider, it does not pose any serious short- or long-term harm to the individual who is consuming it. Those professionals who have reviewed these studies have also come out and stated that the use of this medication is medically safe, as it is non-toxic. They also noted that most side effects related to methadone use are temporary and typically only occur when an individual is just starting in his or her methadone treatment program and determining the appropriate dose – otherwise known as the “induction phase” of medication assisted treatment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also showed its support of methadone by releasing a statement saying that methadone can be used safely by pregnant women who are addicted to opioids. The HHS also noted that utilizing this medication during pregnancy does not cause any harm to the mother or child.

However, as with any medication, methadone can cause extreme danger to an individual if it is abused in ways outside of a medical professional’s prescribing guidelines. Methadone overdose is a serious concern for those who abuse it recreationally and/or in combination with other substances. Currently, methadone overdose is responsible for one-third of all prescription drug related overdoses each year. However, it is critical to understand that these statistics are strictly related to those individuals who abuse methadone, not those who are taking it safely within the confines of a medication assisted treatment program.

When taken as directed and under the guidance of a medical professional in a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is safe for consumption.

The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment

Due, in part, to years of research, experts are confident in stating that methadone is not only safe, but that it is also effective in the treatment of opioid addiction. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the inclusion of methadone into a medication assisted treatment program is the best form of opioid addiction treatment currently available.

Additionally, methadone is a cost-effective means of decreasing addiction. The CDC also states that numerous studies have shown the connection between the successes listed below and those who participate in a medication assisted treatment program:

  • Reducing or stopping drug use
  • Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
  • Reducing risk of overdose
  • Improved family stability and employment potential
  • Reducing risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, or hepatitis B
  • Lesser likelihood of participating in criminal activities
  • Increasing life expectancy (those who engage in a medication assisted treatment program have a 30% increased life expectancy rate over those who do not)

When used in a certified medication assisted treatment program, methadone is effective in treating opioid addiction.

Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling

Methadone is just one aspect of a medication assisted treatment program. This medication is effective in preventing drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which allows patients the mental clarity to productively engage in the therapeutic aspects of their program. In other words, methadone is effective in addressing the physical effects of addiction, while therapy can help address the psychological and emotional issues that have been attributed to the addiction’s development.

How You Can Be Success in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Even though methadone has a record of safety and effectiveness, it is not a “miracle drug” in the sense that it can cure all of your issues pertaining to addiction. Instead, this part of your recovery takes effort, time, and dedication. When you join a medication assisted treatment program, you will begin a partnership with nurses, counselors, and doctors who are specifically trained in helping individuals just like yourself defeat issues similar to the ones that you are experiencing. By following their directions, listening to their advice, and actively engaging yourself in your treatment, you can significantly improve your odds that your time spent in treatment will keep you in recovery for the long-term.

How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: In order to be a supportive spouse, friend, or family member, you cannot neglect your own needs. Your loved one’s addiction has caused damage to his or her life, however, it is important to understand that it has also impacted your life as well. To offer your loved one the support that he or she needs at this time, speak with the treatment program that your loved one is attending or reach out to other experts who can help guide you towards resources that may be helpful. Get educated about addiction as a disease, learn what your loved one’s benefits and limitations are during recovery and into maintenance, and find out what it is that your loved one will need from you to be successful. Family therapy, support groups, and individual counseling can be tremendous resources of education and encouragement. Always keep in mind that in order to care for your loved one, you must care for yourself first.

The Side Effects of Methadone

Below are the possible side effects linked to methadone use:

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Slowed breathing
  • Skin rashes
  • Sleep problems
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

For more specific information regarding the side effects of methadone use, as well as to learn more about how using this medication may impact you, please speak with your treatment provider or reach out to Cape Cod Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.

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