What is Methadone?
Methadone is a powerful, long-lasting pain medication, usually used to treat patients after surgery or serious injury. Because methadone is so powerful and so easily abused, it is only legally available in the US via prescription. If you’ve been prescribed methadone, you should adhere to the dosing instructions and keep your doctor updated on your medication use and pain levels. Eventually, your doctor will want you to begin tapering off the methadone so that you can avoid developing an opioid addiction.
“Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication. They can have serious side effects if you don’t use them correctly.”
Methadone is an opioid, or a type of drug that works by binding itself to the brain’s opioid receptors. Methadone and other opioids change the way the brain responds to pain. These medications also cause the brain to release dopamine, or the “feel good” chemical that makes up a major part of the brain’s reward center. Because the dopamine release makes you feel better, your brain might start craving more opioids to achieve the same feeling. This is when people become tempted to abuse prescription drugs.
Many drug addictions begin with a prescription for methadone or other opioid intended for pain relief. Some people switch to heroin or other prescription drugs. Others continue using methadone but use illicit methods to continue getting the drug. These methods put the user at risk for arrest and infectious diseases.
If you think you might be addicted to methadone or other opioid drugs contact Rehabinfo.com today.
Withdrawal from methadone can look much like withdrawal from heroin and other opioid drugs. Methadone users who quit the drug often experience a range of uncomfortable, and even painful, symptoms during detox. A few of these symptoms are:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Cramping and Stomach Pain
- Sleep Problems
- Eye Problems
- Sweating or Chills
- Muscle Pain
Furthermore, a person experiencing methadone withdrawal may face psychological issues like anxiety and depression during the detox process. Intense withdrawal symptoms may come with a feeling of despair and hopelessness, and former methadone users may relapse to avoid further symptoms.
About 40% of opioid deaths involve a prescription opioid.
The Problem with Medication
Often, medication is prescribed to treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. These medications temporarily take the place of the opioids. A doctor can gradually reduce the prescription until the patient no longer needs the medicine at all. These medications come in three categories.
- Agonists bind to opioid receptors and replace the original opioids.
- Partial Agonists are a weaker form of agonists.
- Antagonists block the brain’s opioid receptors.
Unfortunately, the medication method doesn’t always work with methadone users because methadone is usually the medication that treatment centers use to treat opioid addictions. As an agonist, methadone often helps patients overcome heroin addictions. While this can be wonderful for other former opioid users, it leaves methadone users with very few options to help ease the pain of withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps an antagonist medication might be the best option, or perhaps the patient will have to deal with symptoms without the help of medication at all.
Supporting Methadone Treatment
Whether or not the patient can use medication to ease withdrawal symptoms, the process of methadone detox will not be easy. Having the right support can make all the difference. A rehab facility can provide comfort and help a methadone user take the first steps into recovery. A treatment program can also help address psychological issues and triggers that come with a methadone addiction.