Methadone Treatment for an Opioid Addiction

How It Works and Is It Safe?

There are numerous medications used in the treatment of addiction, however, none have been used and/or studied nearly as much as methadone. Methadone, which is administered in either a dissolvable tablet or a liquid, is taken daily to help avert opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Since the 1960’s, methadone has been utilized as an effective, safe, and clinically backed treatment for opioid addiction.

When used as directed, numerous studies have proven that methadone does not lead to notable short or long-term health risks. In fact, experts who study methadone and its effects stand behind the fact that it is non-toxic, as well as safe, when taken under medical supervision. These very same experts also point out that side effects only last for the interim, and typically occur at the beginning of this stage of care due to the need to determine the proper dosage for the individual.

In a statement released by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, methadone is safe enough that even pregnant women who are attempting to overcome opioid addiction can take it without causing harm to their unborn child/children.

Unfortunately, methadone is often misused and like any other drug, can pose serious health risks as a result. Methadone overdoses are likely in those who abuse this drug for unintended purposes– especially those who are also engaging in additional substance abuse. Methadone overdoses currently make up more than one-third of all prescription drug-related deaths each year. The key factor to consider here is that these overdoses occur in those who abuse it, not in those who are utilizing it as a tool for recovery.

When used as prescribed and taken under the care of a trained professional in a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is perfectly safe.

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The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment

Decades of data and research have proven that, not only is methadone safe, but it is also highly effective in treating an opioid addiction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “methadone maintenance treatment is the most effective treatment for opioid addiction.”

The CDC also stated that methadone is both cost-effective and successful in the following aspects of methadone maintenance treatment:

  • Reducing/stopping addiction and drug use
  • Reducing overdose risks
  • Reducing the risk of contracting viruses like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C
  • Increasingly life expectancy (the death rate amongst those who do not receive methadone maintenance treatment is 30% higher than those who do)
  • Decreased likelihood of criminal activity
  • Improved family stability and employment potential
  • Increased positive outcomes for pregnant women and their babies

When used as a directed and as a part of a licensed treatment program, methadone maintenance is effective.

Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling

Methadone maintenance treatment is just one aspect of a comprehensive and guided treatment program. Methadone is vital in helping to relieve cravings and the discomfort of withdrawal which, in turn, allows the individual the ability to fully focus on his or her complete recovery. This includes allowing the individual to engage in the many therapeutic elements of a treatment program. Methadone maintenance significantly helps with the physical aspect of addiction, while therapeutic resources work to identify and address the psychological and emotional pieces and their roles in the development of the addiction.

How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Methadone is known for its safety and effectiveness, however it is not to be looked at as a “miracle drug.” There is no substance available that can help heal, address, or cure the issues surrounding an individual’s addiction. This aspect of recovery takes time, as well as a tremendous amount of effort and determination. When you enter into a medication assisted treatment program, you will work closely with professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and counselors, all who are specifically trained in helping you remedy your period of opiate abuse. Through the partnership that you will develop with them, you will obtain invaluable advice and direction – all of which will set you up for a successful recovery process. You will also secure a much more promising future in your path to obtaining and maintaining sobriety.

How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: The golden rule of being supportive to your loved one during medication assisted treatment is that you must take care of yourself in order to provide that support. Your loved one has experiencing damage as a result of his or her opiate addiction, but it is important to remember that you have also been affected. One of the most effective ways to provide support to your loved one is to consult with a treatment program or professionals in the treatment field to help guide you and provide you with the right resources. Your support can extend even further if you educate yourself about addiction, understand how treatment works, and learn what your loved one will need from you in terms of support while he or she is in treatment and after. Some of the most beneficial resources available to you can include family therapy, support groups, and individual counseling. It is crucial that you remember that by caring for yourself, you are setting yourself up to support your loved one to your best abilities.

The Side Effects of Methadone

Some of the most common possible side effects associated with the use of methadone can include:

  • Nervousness/anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Exhaustion/fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Slowed breathing
  • Hypotension

For more detailed information about the side effects of methadone, and to obtain more knowledge on how this medication might affect you, contact your healthcare provider or a Central Virginia Comprehensive Treatment Center.

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