Methadone Treatment for an Opioid Addiction

How It Works and Is It Safe?

Out of the many different medications utilized for the treatment of opioid addiction, methadone has been the most highly studied of them all. This medication, which is given in a dissolvable tablet on a daily basis, works by impacting an individual’s central nervous system in ways that decrease withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Since the 1960s, methadone has been utilized in treatment programs for opioid addiction. The research behind methadone has proven that it is both safe and effective.

Numerous studies have shown that when taken as prescribed, methadone does not lead to serious short or long-term health issues. Those experts who have studied methadone state that it is safe and non-toxic. In addition, these same experts said that most side effects are temporary, and typically only occur during the first phase of treatment, which is known as the “induction” phase. At this time, an individual’s treatment provider is usually working to determine the dosage that is most appropriate for meeting his or her needs.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a statement saying that pregnant women who are battling an opioid addiction can safely use methadone, as it does not pose any risks to the mother or the baby.

As with most other medications, using methadone outside of the prescribed guidelines can lead to health risks. It is possible to overdose on methadone, especially when it is taken recreationally and/or with other medications. Methadone overdoses are the cause of one-third of all prescription medication overdoses yearly. It is critical to know, however, that these overdoses occur when methadone is being abused, not when it is being taken as prescribed within a licensed medication assisted treatment program.

When taken as directed and under the watchful eye of a medical professional within a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is safe.

The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment

Because of decades of research, experts can assuredly state that methadone is effective in treating opioid addiction. In fact, it is so effective that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went on record to state that treatment that utilizes methadone is the most effective form of care possible.

In addition to the fact that methadone is cost-effective, the CDC also notes that numerous studies have tracked the following successes linked to methadone treatment:

  • Reduction of drug use
  • Reduction of overdose risk
  • Reduction of developing HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
  • Increase of life expectancy (the average death rate amongst opioid users who participated in methadone treatment is 30% lower than those who choose not to)
  • Decrease in likelihood of participating in criminal activity
  • Increase in family stability and employment potential
  • More positive outcomes for pregnant women and their children

When taken as prescribed and as a part of a qualified medication assisted treatment program, methadone is effective.

Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling

Methadone is only one aspect of a bigger treatment picture. When used within a medication assisted treatment program, methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, which allows patients to obtain a clear state of mind so that they can focus on the therapeutic aspect of their overall program. In other words, while methadone works to treat the physical effects of opioid addition, therapy helps address the deep-rooted issues that may have led to the addiction itself.

How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Even though methadone is regarded as highly effective and safe to consume when under the supervision of a professional, it is critical to understand that this medication should not be viewed as a miracle drug. No medication has the power to solve all of an individual’s problems or help him or her create a healthy lifestyle. Being able to accomplish those things takes effort, time, and dedication. When you participate in a medication assisted treatment program, you will build relationships with nurses, doctors, and counselors who are experienced in helping treat individuals such as yourself. Through adherence to their advice, taking heed to their direction, and remaining an active participant in your treatment, you can improve the odds that your time spent in treatment will help you achieve lasting recovery.

How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: Before you can take care of any one else’s needs, you must be sure to take care of yourself. Yes, your loved one has caused damage to his or her own life, but he or she has also negatively impacted yours, too. Therefore, to support him or her throughout recovery, speak to his or her treatment provider so that you can obtain the proper resources and support that you need. In addition, educate yourself on addiction, learn what the benefits and limitations are for your loved one at this time, and uncover what your loved one will need from you. Family therapy, support groups, and individual counseling can be highly beneficial for you to obtain all of this information and support.

The Side Effects of Methadone

Below are a number of possible side effects linked to the use of methadone:

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

For more information regarding the effects of methadone use and to learn more about how they can impact you, talk with your prescribing physician or contact Milwaukee Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.

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