Used in opioid recovery programs since the 1960s, methadone’s efficacy has decades of clinical research behind it. Methadone is given to eliminate the symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal, as well as lessen cravings for additional opioid use. Methadone has been closely monitored to verify its safety for use under the supervision of medical professionals.
Studies have shown that the use of methadone does not present any notable short or long-term health risks to the individual using it. This non-toxic medication has minimal side effects that typically only take place during the beginning phase of treatment where individuals are adjusting their dosage in order to determine the most appropriate amount needed.
Methadone use has also been approved for use during pregnancy. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, pregnant women who are addicted to opioids are able to safely use methadone without harming themselves or their babies.
Just like most medications, methadone can be hazardous if taken in a way other than what is prescribed. One-third of all prescription medication deaths are due to methadone overdose and it is important to note that these deaths are linked to abusing methadone outside of a licensed prescription medication program. Since overdosing on methadone is a reality, patients on the drug need to closely follow the dosages and instructions given to them by their physician.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “methadone maintenance treatment is the most effective treatment for opiate addiction.” As well as being cost-effective in terms of treating addiction, the CDC also points out that numerous studies have noted the following accomplishments directly related to the use of methadone in medication assisted treatment programs:
- Decreased the risk of overdose
- Lowered risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B
- Ceased drug use
- Drastically increased life expectancy (the median death rate of opiate addicts who enroll in methadone treatment is 30% less then those who do not get treatment)
- Decreased likelihood of engaging in criminal actives
- Improved familial relationships
- Greater potential for steady employment
- Enhanced outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
When implemented as part of a comprehensive medication assisted treatment program, methadone eases the symptoms of withdrawal and diminishes cravings for opioids. Methadone allows individuals to obtain a clear mind in order to focus on recovery. Given that methadone tackles the physical side of addiction, the mental clarity achieved while taking this medication allows a person to partake in counseling to focus on the underlying issues that may have contributed to the use of substances in the first place.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: It is important to note that methadone is not a “miracle drug.” While no one medication or drug can cure an individual, there are a combination of treatment options available that allow the individual to obtain a sober and healthy life. This change takes time, dedication, and work on not only the individual’s part but on his or her medical team’s part as well. By taking part in a medication assisted treatment program, you will team up with physicians, nurses, and counselors who are specifically trained in the field of addiction and recovery. By partnering together, you will be given the support and resources required to get back on track toward sobriety.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: Before you are able to care for your loved one who is struggling with an addiction, you must first take care of yourself. Although you are not the one physically addicted to an opioid, your life has been impacted as well. The qualified team at Southern West Virginia Comprehensive Treatment Centers can provide you with the resources and support required to properly and effectively provide for your loved one. However, by educating yourself about addiction and gaining an understanding about the limitations of treatment, you will be able to productively help your loved one during his or her journey to recovery. In utilizing family therapy as well as support groups, you will be able to gain a strong support system of individuals who understand what it is like having a loved one who is a recovering addict.
The Side Effects of Methadone
The following are among potential side effects associated with methadone use:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Sleep problems
- Skin rashes
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Slowed breathing
Contact the professional team at Southern West Virginia Comprehensive Treatment Centers for more information about the treatment options available and to further discuss if methadone is right for you or a loved one.