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Methadone Addiction


What is Methadone?

Methadone is a type of Opioid. Opioids are medicines that are prescribed to relieve pain. The pain is reduced by controlling theintensity of the pain signals that are sent to the brain. Methadones are used to help reduce painful withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin and other narcotic drug abuse.

Methadone sometimes slows or even stops the breathing pattern, therefore users with asthma should not opt for Methadone. Methadone can become addictive with use over a period of time, therefore it should be abused out of prescribed doses.

Potential users must be wary of diseases and problems like heart rhythm disorder, low levels of Potassium and Magnesium, breathing disorders, head injury, liver disease, kidney problems or pancreatic problems before consuming Methadone. This is because some medicines can react with Methadone and cause a condition called serotonin syndrome (which is a bunch of symptoms that indicate overdose of drug or recreational use of some drugs.)

When consuming Methadone as a part of a detoxification process, it is necessary to accompany that with counseling in order to prevent drug abuse of Methadone. Intake of alcohol along with Methadone is dangerous and should be done. Works that need intense concentration, like driving or operating machines, should not be done after consuming Methadone because the drug can impair thinking and reactions.

Side Effects

Some of the common side effects of Methadone use are dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting or increased sweating. Along with these, one’s ability to think and react is slowed down. Some of the severe side effects could possibly be caused by allergy to the drug or intake of the drug over a long period of time. Some of those side effects are weak or shallow breathing, constipation, light-headedness, impotence, heart rhythm disorder among others.

Methadone and Alcohol Abuse

Methadone and Alcohol have similar side effects of abuse. Alcohol abuse curses slurred speech, problem balancing, nausea and lack of consciousness. With Methadone abuse, there is confusion, chest pain and dizziness. Due to similarities in side effects caused by both, it affects the user drastically in the form of dramatic mood swings. The chemical imbalance caused by the consumption of Alcohol and Methadone is what causes the mood swing. Also due to the inability to differentiate between the signs and symptoms of abuse, proper medical care cannot be given at a time of need.

When Alcohol and Methadone are consumed together over a period of time, the users are likely to be prone to respiratory depression (hyperventilation), irregularity in heartbeat, drowsiness and/ or coma.

Teenage abuse of Alcohol and Methadone is a rising concern. Apart from the above mentioned symptoms of Alcohol and Methadone abuse, teenage abusers are also at a risk of permanently damaging their brain’s functioning.

Signs of Addiction

Methadone can cause physical and psychological addiction. Psychological signs of addiction (which are more behavior- oriented) include loss of interest in social activities, mood swings, anger issues, secretive behavior, financial dependence through borrowing or stealing, forgetting responsibilities and losing care for appearance or hygiene. Since the drug is addictive and habit forming, users will build up tolerance towards Methadone quite easily. If the user does not consume larger quantity of the drug, the user will start to feel withdrawal symptoms.

Physical signs manifest in the physical body of the user addicted to the drug. Signs like sweating, drowsiness, nausea, swelling, insomnia, rashes or in extreme cases even seizures.

Signs of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms start to appear almost 12 hours after stopping consumption of the drug. Some of the symptoms of Methadone withdrawal are anxiety, muscle pain, excessive sweating, dilated pupils, nausea and paranoia.

Methadone Withdrawal Treatment

Methadone detox happens in four ways:

  1. Step-down Detox: The quantity of drug intake is lowered continuously until the user is able to stop taking the drug altogether.
  2. Medicated Detox: Methadone is completely stopped and is substituted by other prescribed medication to help stop using the drug.
  3. Short-term Detox: This is basically step-down detox, where the duration of the withdrawal process is lower. So, in a short period of time, the user gets off the drug by reducing the intake of the drug.
  4. Long-term Detox: This is also step- down detox, but the user gets off the drug over the course of a few months or sometimes years. The reduction of intake of Methadone happens at a very slow pace.

Treatment for drug abuse happens in two ways: inpatient and outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment requires the patient to stay at the rehab facility for the length of the treatment. This warrants intensive treatment for the problem. Outpatient treatment requires the patient to check in with the doctors every day of the week, except for weekends and holidays. In the inpatient treatment chances of relapsing are very low due to lack of access to drugs within the facility. Further the distractions of day-to-day life are lesser in the facility. 24/7 care is provided in the inpatient treatment, which could help long term users. . For a long term user who has suffered from multiple instances of relapses, it is best to choose the inpatient treatment. And a short term user less vulnerable to serious withdrawal symptoms can opt for the outpatient treatment. The step-down method of detox also helps the user to stop using the drug.

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