The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over 6,000 individual deaths can be attributed to methadone misuse in 2011. That’s six times as many individuals that died from the drug in the last decade and the numbers continue to get larger.
What Exactly Is Methadone?
Methadone is a member of the opiate pain relieving medication family. It is considered a narcotic and is a time-release, synthetic medicine. It can stay in your body for up to 36 hours at a time and can cause the user to become physically dependent on it. Initially, the drug was only prescribed as a detox medication for users of opiates. However, it is now prescribed as an oral pain reliever. As a result, the methadone overdose numbers have drastically increased over the years. It is a commonly sought drug due to the fact that it is inexpensive and can be easily accessed. Some even use it thinking that it will help them stop their use of prescription pain killers and heroin. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work and can have the opposite effect instead. Extended use of the drug can result in severe dependency and painful withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone Use Signs and Symptoms
As with all opiates, methadone comes with its fair share of side effects. After all, it does affect the brain’s natural function and causes a false sense of euphoria. Since it is a time-release drug, the effects of methadone take much longer for the user to experience than oxycontin, heroin and similar drugs. Side effects include fatigue, vomiting, nausea, dry mouth, insomnia, breathing issues, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, constipation, hallucinations, confusion, chest pain, irregular heartbeat and consciousness. Long-term, extended use can cause a physical tolerance to the drug, which results in the user increasing the methadone dosage and leading to accidental overdose. This can then lead to respiratory distress, the possibility of a coma and even the risk of death.
Medical Detoxification of Methadone
It has been reported that the withdrawal symptoms are much worse with methadone than they are with other opiate drugs. The withdrawal symptoms can include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, sweating, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, body aches, irritability, high blood pressure, tremors, paranoia, delusions and suicide. After discontinuing use of methadone, these symptoms can last anywhere from three to 10 days. Because of the severity of these symptoms and the length of time that they can last, it is recommended to use a step-down program to detox yourself from the drug. This helps to minimize the symptoms and can sometimes even completely eliminate them. However, the downside is that it can take weeks or months for the detoxification process to be completed.
Like other drugs, the detoxification process is available via outpatient and inpatient methods. Outpatient methods are better for some people as they allow self-reporting to physicians and for individuals to go about their normal, day-to-day routines. However, with inpatient programs, there is more supervision and less discomfort as there is better control over the withdrawal symptoms. This is the more effective method, especially since the withdrawal symptoms can be so severe and painful. After all, the more comfortable you are throughout the detoxification, the more likely you are to complete the process. If you complete the process, you have a better chance of staying drug-free for the rest of your life.
Following the Detoxification of Methadone
Once you have successfully completed your methadone detox treatment here at Shadow Mountain Recovery, we also have behavioral educational programs that can help educate you about lifestyle choices that will help you get your life back together. It is important that individuals realize that drug use and addiction is not a disease; it is a choice and habitual behavior that can be changed. Our program can help guide you in the right direction to help you gain control back of your life and learn new techniques that will help solve life problems that won’t have you reaching for drugs when obstacles are thrown your way.