How It Works and Is It Safe?
There are a variety of different medications used for the treatment of opioid addiction, however none have been more studied than methadone. This medication is administered via a liquid solution or dissolvable tablet, and stimulates the central nervous system in ways that help stop withdrawal symptoms and lessen drug cravings. Having been used in opioid recovery programs since the 1960s, methadone has yielded decades of research that supports its safety and effectiveness.
Several studies have shown that when methadone is consumed as prescribed by a qualified medical professional, it does not cause any short- or long-term risks. Experts who carefully study methadone rave over its non-toxicity and medical safety. In addition, they also champion the fact that the side effects that are associated with methadone are often temporary and generally only occur at the beginning of treatment when a patient and his or her physician are determining the most appropriate dosage.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS), pregnant women who are battling opioid addiction can safely consume methadone. Additionally, the DHSS also stated that the use of methadone during pregnancy does not provide the baby or mother with any detrimental side effects.
However, as with all medications, methadone can be dangerous if abused. The possibility for a methadone overdose is very real, especially for those who abuse this medication recreationally and/or in conjunction with other substances. Currently, about one-third of all prescription medication overdoses each year are caused by methadone abuse. It is important to understand that these methadone-related deaths are a result of abuse, not use that is monitored within a medication assisted treatment program and under the supervision of a professional.
When taken as directed and under the watch of a medical professional who is a part of a medication assisted treatment program, the use of methadone for opioid addiction treatment is safe.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Decades of data on methadone have allowed experts to confidently state that methadone is both safe and incredibly effective in treating opioid addiction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment that incorporates methadone into a comprehensive plan for opioid addiction is the best form of treatment currently available.
Not only is methadone cost-effective in stopping addiction, but the CDC also states that a number of successes come from this type of medication when it is used in a treatment program These successes include the following:
- Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
- Reduced or total cessation of drug use
- Improved family stability and possibility for employment
- Reduced likelihood of contracting hepatitis C, hepatitis B, or HIV/AIDS
- Lessened chance of participating in illegal activity
- Increased life expectancy (on average, those who participate in a medication assisted treatment program live 30% longer than those who do not)
- Reduced risk for overdose
When taken as directed and within the guidelines of a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is effective in treating opioid addiction.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
Methadone, while incredibly beneficial, is just one part of a comprehensive medication assisted treatment program. This medication is designed to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, which allows patients to be able to maintain a stable mental state that helps keep them involved in their treatment. In other words, methadone helps keep physical symptoms at bay, while therapeutic resources work to address the underlying emotional causes of the addiction’s development and continuation.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Even though methadone is known for its safety and effectiveness, it is not a miracle drug and cannot fix all of a patient’s issues surrounding addiction. There is no one drug that can provide a patient with lasting sobriety. Instead, accomplishing this goal requires effort, time, and dedication. Once you become a part of a medication assisted treatment program, you will start to establish partnerships with doctors, counselors, and nurses who have experience in treating individuals, such as yourself, and guiding them towards recovery. If you take their advice to heart, adhere to their directions, and remain active in your treatment process, you can dramatically increase your chances of sustaining long-lasting recovery.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: Above all else, if you are going to be a solid source of support for a loved one who is obtaining medication assisted treatment, you must care for yourself first. While your loved one has caused obvious damage to his or her life, it is important to recognize that you have suffered as well. Therefore, to provide him or her with the support he or she needs, consult with his or her treatment program so that you can be referred to the appropriate resources for your own support and guidance. Obtain an education on opioid addiction and recovery, learn what your loved one’s limitations and benefits of treatment will be, and find out what he or she will need from you throughout the recovery process and beyond. Attending family therapy, support groups, and individual counseling can be an incredible option for you and other loved ones. Always remember that in order to care for someone else, you must first care for yourself.
The Side Effects of Methadone
Below are a handful of possible side effects that can result from the use of methadone:
- Slowed breathing
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rashes
- Sleep problems
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Dry mouth
To obtain more information about methadone’s side effects and to learn how this medication can help release you or your loved one from the grips of addiction, please reach out to Southeastern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.