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Everything You Need to Know About Methadone Abuse

Methadone is a synthetic drug that is usually used as a replacement for other opioids during addiction treatment. Studies have shown that the success rate of addiction treatment for this drug is between 60 to 90%. Because of its success rate and relatively low cost, Methadone is widely used for treating opioid dependency. This drug is also used as a painkiller. But since it is also considered an opioid as it came from the poppy plant, Methadone can also be addictive. Hence, this drug should only be administered in a medical facility or rehabilitation center under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

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Methadone Part of a Pandemic

What sets Methadone apart from other painkillers is that it has no “ceiling effect.” This means it doesn’t lose its effect when it reached a certain dose. Thus, this drug is popularly used as a maintenance drug for people recovering from addiction to heroin or other drugs. The effects of Methadone are long-lasting, usually taking 24 to 36 hours to wear off. But this also means that the drug stays for a long time inside the body. This greatly increases the potential for abuse and overdose.

If someone uses the drug outside of the prescribed dosage, he or she must be stopped right away. An expert should carefully supervise treatments that use Methadone. Methadone is considered to be part of the opioid abuse pandemic in the United States. One in three painkiller deaths involves Methadone. Still, millions of prescriptions for this drug are being written every year.

methadone abuse

How to Recognize Methadone Abuse?

Methadone comes in either tablet or even wafer form. There’s also liquid Methadone. Some addicts, however, like to turn the drug into powder and snort it to get high quickly and more intensely. The worst kinds of addicts inject the drug into their system. If you have reason to believe that someone is snorting or injecting Methadone, then that person is most likely addicted to the drug already. Patients who abuse the drug will show tolerance to it, leading them to try to get an advanced prescription for the drug. If their doctors refuse to provide prescriptions, then they would go “doctor shopping,” and look for physicians willing to write them a prescription.

You may also see physical signs from a person suffering from Methadone abuse. These signs include constipation, drowsiness, mood swings, skin rashes, and fatigue. New users of the drug may also experience nausea, headache, and weakness.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Methadone Abuse

If someone who is already dependent on Methadone fails to have a dose for more than 30 hours, he or she will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These include restlessness, sleepiness, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, and excessive yawning. Since this drug’s effects are long-lasting, its withdrawal symptoms tend to last for a long time. Patients who have been using Methadone for a long time may experience more intense symptoms. Apart from the symptoms mentioned above, long-time methadone users may also experience body aches, chills, stomach cramps, goosebumps, irritability, agitation, and even depression.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms usually last for two weeks for mild cases and up to 21 days for more acute cases. But as with the abuse of other types of opioids, a post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS may occur for those who are severely addicted to Methadone. The condition, which is characterized by sweating, nausea, and rapid heart rate, may last for months.

Best Way to Quit Methadone

Patients who are addicted to Methadone should not go cold turkey because this could lead to dangerous consequences. Treating methadone addiction is quite difficult since it’s the same drug used to treat other forms of addiction. What professionals recommend is to taper the dosage of the drug each day. This method makes the withdrawal symptoms less severe and more tolerable. This also makes the patients crave less for the drug.

The use of clonidine, a drug usually prescribed for patients with high blood pressure, to replace Methadone is also common. This drug can reduce some withdrawal synonyms and can also lessen the time needed for physical detoxification. Other drugs may be used to control other withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes an opioid antagonizer, naltrexone, is also given to the patients to block the euphoric effects of Methadone and reduce the drug craving. After physical detoxification, the patient will still need to undergo psychological therapy.

Methadone is used as a replacement drug to treat addiction to opioids. But it also has the potential for abuse and can cause drug addiction. Treating methadone addiction can be tricky. But with the right care at the rehabilitation center such as Elevate Recovery Center, a person addicted to Methadone has a high chance of recovery.


Valerie Tecci, Program Director

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