Methadone Detox Treatment

You may have heard of methadone as a way of treating opioid addiction, including heroin and certain types of prescription pain medicines. It’s usually used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) when someone is detoxing during inpatient treatment at a facility.

When used safely and as it should be, methadone can be a helpful treatment for those struggling with opioid addiction. It’s a way to help curb cravings and to lessen the effects of opioids on someone, allowing them a safer and more comfortable beginning to long-term recovery.

However, when misused, methadone can become dangerous and even addictive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that over 6,000 individual deaths can be attributed to methadone misuse in 2011. That’s six times as many individuals who died from the drug in the last decade, and the numbers continue to get larger.

There are a lot of myths about methadone, including that it rots your teeth. In fact, what methadone can do to your mouth is cause dry mouth, which can affect your dental hygiene. Also, if someone is prescribed the liquid form of methadone—which may be in a sugary syrup—this can lead to tooth decay, but only if someone is not properly taking care of their mouth and teeth.

Another myth is that MAT is simply “replacing one addiction with another.” The reason this isn’t true is that the monitored use of methadone is an example of the drug being used properly, in the correct doses, and at the correct times. Specifically, methadone helps break the cycle of “euphoria, crash, and craving,” as reported by the National Institutes of Health.

In order to understand it, there are a lot of things to know about methadone, including what addiction to it feels like and how to spot the signs and symptoms of someone struggling with methadone use. 

Prescriptions of methadone are normally only written when the doctor is confident the drug can be used as directed, but as we know, that’s not always how things go. Let’s take a closer look at methadone.

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 potentially cause the person to become physically dependent on it. 

Initially, the drug was only prescribed as a detox medication for those struggling with opioid addiction, but since then it has become a medication 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 being inexpensive and easily accessed. Some even use it thinking that it will help them stop their use of prescription painkillers 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.

How Methadone Works

Opioids like heroin or OxyContin® are short-term and fast-acting, leading to the cycle mentioned above: “euphoria, crash, and craving.” Methadone is what’s called an opioid agonist, which is longer-acting to ensure the body doesn’t begin feeling withdrawal.

It generally can stay in the body and decrease cravings by activating the same portion of a person’s brain—the mu opioid receptors—for around 24 hours. The use of methadone to decrease withdrawal symptoms and discomfort in general has been shown to decrease the possibility of relapse after leaving treatment.

Another way methadone works is by decreasing pain felt from severe opioid addiction and withdrawal. Someone with a long-term opioid dependence or addiction may experience random muscle pain, stomach/abdominal cramps and pain, and general agitation.

How Methadone Works

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 of methadone use 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 of methadone which can result in someone increasing the dosage and, sadly, possibly 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 3 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 best to experience via outpatient and inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment 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 to help you maintain long-term recovery.

During your assessment before admission, we can determine if you are in need of co-occurring disorder treatment. While you are here we will use our programs to help educate you about lifestyle choices that will help you get your life on the path where you would like it to be.

It is important that individuals realize that drug use and addiction is not a disease; it is an aspect of your life that can be changed through dedication and hard work. Our program can help guide you in the right direction to help you gain back control of your life.

Shadow Mountain Recovery Centers use evidence-based treatment methods to teach you new techniques to help solve problems in a way that won’t have you reaching for drugs when obstacles are thrown your way. Someone is always here to talk to you and help, any day of the week, at any time. Call us at 800-203-8249 when you are ready to talk and ready to begin your long-term recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Methadone Remove Pain?

It can, yes. Methadone is still used as a pain reliever by some doctors, but due to the nature of methadone as potentially addictive, as well as its use in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) some doctors and patients don’t want to use methadone for pain.

How Is Methadone Absorbed?

There are three forms of methadone available: liquid, powder, and pills. All are time release, meaning the drug enters a person’s system over a specific period of time. It’s a medication that interacts with the brain to block the euphoric aspects of opioids and to reduce the cravings for them as well.

Does Methadone Rot Your Teeth Out?

It causes dry mouth which can lead to long-term effects on your teeth, but it specifically does not rot your teeth. The term “meth mouth” is maybe responsible for this misunderstanding, and even “meth mouth” has not been scientifically proven to be the result of using meth (which is a different substance than methadone). The National Library of Medicine does state that those on methadone are at a greater risk of tooth decay if they are using the liquid form of methadone, sometimes given in a sugary syrup, but also attribute poor mouth hygiene in general to the lifestyle that may come along when struggling with addiction.

Does Methadone Come Out In A Drug Test?

It can, yes. Depending on which kind of drug test you are taking, methadone might show up. Also, how long the drug stays in your system is largely determined by how much methadone you’ve taken and how often. 

Don’t wait another day to get the help you or a loved one needs. Call us now.