Methadone Treatment for an Opioid Addiction

How It Works and Is It Safe?

Methadone is not only one of the most common medications used to treat addiction, but it is also one of the most studied. Given as a dissolvable tablet or as a liquid on a daily basis, methadone works by stopping withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings through triggering specific parts of the central nervous system. Having been utilized to treat opioid addiction since the 1960s, there have been decades of clinical research that proves methadone’s effectiveness and supports its safety.

Numerous studies have shown that when taken as directed, methadone is safe and does not lead to significant short- or long-term health risks. Experts have long championed the safety of methadone, as well as the fact that it is non-toxic. These same experts also note that research supports the fact that methadone’s side effects are often just temporary and only occur at the start of treatment when an individual is getting his or her dosage adjusted.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, methadone is approved for use by pregnant women, as this substance poses no harm to the woman or her baby.

If methadone (like other medications) is abused, it can be dangerous and lead to serious consequences. It is possible to overdose on methadone when it is abused recreationally, or when it is abused with other substances. Currently, one-third of all prescription medication overdoses are due to methadone abuse. However, when methadone is taken under the guidance that is provided at a medication assisted treatment program, it is safe and overdose is unlikely.

The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment

Due to years of data, researchers are confident in stating that while methadone is safe, it is also effective when it comes to opioid addiction treatment. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment that includes the use of methadone is the most effective form of care available.

Methadone is also cost-effective, and can help individuals be successful in their recovery. The CDC states that these are some of the following benefits of methadone:

  • Decreased or stopped drug use
  • Less risk of overdose
  • Reduction in the likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, or hepatitis B
  • Increase in life expectancy (the average rate of death amongst those who obtain methadone treatment is 30% lower than those who do not)
  • Decreased participation in criminal activity
  • Improved family stability and employment
  • Better outcomes for pregnant women and their babies

When taken as directed and within the confines of a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is highly effective.

Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling

Methadone itself is merely just one aspect of an overall medication assisted treatment program. It is highly effective in alleviating drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which allows patients to be focused on the therapies that are offered throughout this process without being hung up on physical setbacks. As methadone helps relieve these issues, therapy works to help patients recognize and work through the underlying causes of their addictions.

How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Even though methadone is known for its safety and effectiveness, it is not a one-stop shop when it comes to opioid addiction treatment. There is no medication that can cure all of the issues that stand in the way of living a healthy life. Instead, it takes time, effort, and dedication. Throughout your time spent in a medication assisted treatment program, you will work closely with counselors, nurses, and doctors who are skilled in providing patients with the care needed to stop abusing opioids. If you follow their advice and direction, plus play a continual role in your recovery, you can make it so that your time spent in treatment was worthwhile.

How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: If you are going to support someone who is participating in a medication assisted treatment program, you must care for yourself first. While it is obvious that your loved one has suffered from his or her opioid addiction, it is important to recognize that you have been affected too. To be able to give the best support possible to your loved one, speak with his or her treatment program (as well as other experts) to obtain resources, support, and education about addiction. Learn what your loved one’s benefits and limitations will be, as well as what he or she will need from you both in and out of treatment. For additional help, participate in family therapy, support groups, and even individual counseling. Always remember to care for yourself, too.

The Side Effects of Methadone

Below are some of the possible side effects of methadone:

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

For more information regarding the side effects of methadone, as well as how this medication can help you, reach out to Inland Empire Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.

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