Methadone Treatment for an Opioid Addiction

How It Works and Is It Safe?

Methadone is by far the most studied medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. This medication is effective in stimulating an individual’s central nervous system in ways that stop opioid withdrawal and cravings, all without creating a disorienting high. Prescribed via dissolvable tablets or liquid, methadone has been prescribed to individuals since the 1960s. Decades of research and studies have proven its effectiveness and its safety.

A variety of different studies have shown that when taken as prescribed, methadone threatens no serious short- or long-term health concerns. Professionals who have conducted reviews on methadone research have attested to its non-toxicity and safety. Should any side effects occur, experts say they are only temporary, and often only develop at the beginning of treatment when an individual and his or her treatment provider are working to determine his or her proper dosage.

A statement released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirms pregnant women can use methadone safely, as doing so causes no serious health risks to the mother or the baby.

As with any other medication, methadone can be dangerous when abused and/or used outside of the recommendations of a professional. Those who use methadone recreationally run the risk of overdose. In fact, one-third of all prescription drug related deaths are due to methadone overdose. Despite these startling facts, it is important to understand that these overdoses stem from the use of individuals who choose to abuse it, not those who take it responsibly within a certified medication assisted treatment program.

When taken as prescribed and under the care of a licensed provider, the use of methadone is safe.

The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment

Because of decades of supported research, experts are comfortable and confident in saying that methadone is not only safe, but also effective in the treatment of opioid addiction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment that involves methadone is the most effective form of care in treating opioid addiction today.

In addition to methadone being a cost-effective option for treating opioid addiction, the CDC also states that through numerous studies, the following successes have been documented in relation to methadone maintenance:

  • Reduction or cessation of drug use
  • Reduction of overdose risk
  • Reduction in contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
  • Increased life expectancy (those who do not participate in a methadone treatment program have a 30% lower median death rate)
  • Reduction in likelihood of participating in criminal activity
  • Increased family and employment stability
  • Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies

When taken as directed and as a part of a qualified medication assisted treatment program, the use of methadone is effective in treating opioid addiction.

Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling

Methadone is only one aspect of a comprehensive medication assisted treatment program. This medication is designed to reduce drug cravings and the pain that accompanies withdrawal, allowing patients to be free and clear of any distractions that could prevent them from moving forth with their recovery. In other words, while methadone itself works to control the physical aspects of addiction, counseling and other therapeutic methods can help address the underlying issues that have contributed to the addiction itself.

How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Methadone is championed for its effectiveness and safety, however it is critical to recognize that it is not a miracle drug. Taking methadone will not alleviate all of your issues or make the changes you need to overcome addiction. Instead, it takes time, effort, and dedication to achieve these goals. Within your medication assisted treatment program, you will start to develop relationships with doctors, nurses, and counselors who are experts in helping individuals just like you move past issues surrounding opioid addiction. Through following their advice and directions, and actively participating in your treatment, you can increase the odds that your period of time spent in treatment will benefit your recovery in more ways than one.

How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: Above all else, it is important to know that in order to offer care and support to your loved one, you must take care of yourself first. Yes, your loved one has suffered an incredible amount from his or her addiction, but so have you. To be able to fully support your loved one, you can reach out to his or her treatment program for guidance, educate yourself about addiction, learn what your loved one can and cannot do in his or her recovery, and understand how you can help him or her during treatment and after. In addition, you can participate in family therapy, support groups, or individual counseling. Remember, caring for yourself will allow you to better care for your loved one.

The Side Effects of Methadone

Below are a number of possible side effects that can develop in response to methadone use:

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

For more information regarding the effects of methadone use, and to learn more about how this medication can impact you, contact Medford Comprehensive Treatment Center today.

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