Methadone Addiction Help-Line

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Methadone Withdrawal

Methadone withdrawal will take place as an individual begins the detoxification process. It is at this time that they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as a result of the abrupt discontinuation of the drug. The severity of the methadone withdrawal symptoms depends on several factors, including the duration of use, the interval between doses and the health of the individual. In a study that compared the withdrawal symptoms of methadone and heroin addicts in a 10 day inpatient detoxification program, the methadone group reported more severe withdrawal symptoms. These methadone withdrawal symptoms were more difficult during both the acute and the recovery phase in comparison to the withdrawal responses in the heroin group. The study, which was conducted at the Drug Dependence Clinical Research and Treatment Unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital, concluded that although there may be reasons to make the case for the use of methadone as a maintenance drug, its use may lead to difficulties during withdrawal. These results are contrary to previous literature that has previously been published regarding methadone withdrawal.

Detoxification is the process that occurs as the body rids itself of the toxins that have accumulated from long term drug use.  Research has indicated that it can take an individual up to four times longer to completely withdraw from a methadone addiction, than in a heroin addiction. The irony of this is that the initial use of methadone begins in order to avoid heroin withdrawal symptoms. If a person is aware of this, it would make sense that they would more than likely choose to detox 'cold turkey ' from the heroin in the first place. Methadone withdrawal symptoms usually appear between 24-48 hours after the last dose and increase in intensity for about 6 days; if an individual is going through this process without the professional support of a drug treatment center, this can seem like an eternity, and may begin to weaken their resolve. Methadone withdrawal symptoms will usually begin to subside substantially after about two full weeks, however a general discomfort , loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping have been reported to last as long as six months.  There are many withdrawal symptoms that will occur in the methadone detox process.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Psychological Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms - In methadone withdrawal, an individual can experience a high degree of anxiety and depression as is typical in the opiate detoxification process. In addition, as methadone leaves the system, the individual may experience a wide range of emotions.  Others psychological methadone withdrawal symptoms can include auditory and visual hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and paranoia. When an individual is going through the detox process while attending an inpatient drug rehab, they will have constant support in order to process these emotions as they come up. Without this type of support, an individual will have to go through the emotional wringer, all by themselves .Experiencing these powerful emotions can be overwhelming to an individual, especially as they are going through the detox process. Without the right type of professional support, a person could be at risk for experiencing a drug relapse.  Other psychological methadone withdrawal symptoms can include delusions and an increased perception of odors.

Physical Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms - There are many physical methadone withdrawal symptoms including but not limited to loss of appetite, watery eyes, runny nose, dizziness, vomiting diarrhea, sweaty fevers, chest pain, fainting and drowsiness.  Other dangerous physical methadone withdrawal symptoms are increased blood pressure and heart rate, and insomnia. The reason insomnia occurs in methadone withdrawal is because opiate abuse effects REM (rapid eye movement). REM sleep is the deepest, most restful sleep an individual can experience. When a person is taking opiates, including methadone, REM sleep can be interrupted.  When methadone is abruptly withdrawn from the system, the individual will many times not experience any REM sleep at all; this lack of REM can be experienced for a long period of time, even after the individual has completed the methadone detox. When an individual experiences a lack of sleep, or is not able to experience a restful period of REM sleep, especially over a long period of time, their life can be disrupted in a variety of ways. The side effects of insomnia can affect both the mind and the body. An individual's problem-solving abilities can be seriously impaired as the brain cannot function properly in the absence of sufficient amounts of sleep. An individual who is lacking sleep is at risk when driving, as insomnia can cause them to have accidents due to a slowed reaction time and poor judgment. Insomnia has also been associated with the increase in severity of such conditions as diabetes and high blood pressure. Other physical methadone withdrawal symptoms may include enlarged pupils, sore joints and muscles, muscle spasms, abdominal cramps, and extreme irritability. Slowed breathing is probably among the most serious physical methadone withdrawal symptom because if it is ongoing for over 4 hours, it could be fatal.  Slowed breathing alone, in regards to methadone detox, is enough of a reason to make the case for needing the round the clock supervision that can be provided by an inpatient drug rehab center.

In choosing a drug treatment center, the most important think to look for is a drug rehab that has a high rate of success in treating methadone addictions. The methadone withdrawal process will be difficult and take time, and it will not happen overnight.  Having the assistance of a drug rehab center will make the methadone withdrawal process much easier. Individuals that have support during the drug detox process have a much greater chance of succeeding. Committing to an inpatient treatment center to go through the methadone detox is by far the best option. Inpatient treatment allows the individual going through detox to have the experience of professional assistance 24 hours a day. The encouragement and support of the staff at an inpatient drug rehab center could tip the scales in favor of success, especially when the methadone detox is followed by a comprehensive drug rehab program.

Methadone Facts

  • In blind trials, users who were given both drugs orally were unable to distinguish between the effects heroin and methadone. An added problem for those using methadone to recover from heroin addiction is withdrawal. Withdrawal from heroin should be over after seven to ten days. Withdrawal from methadone though, can take up to a month or even longer.
  • Prescription use and addiction (such as methadone addiction) is linked to at least half of the major crimes in this country, as at least half of the suspects arrested for violent crimes, such as homicide and assault, were under the influence of drugs when they were arrested.
  • Statistics show that Prescription abuse and Methadone Abuse cost Americans over $484 billion annually. This figure includes healthcare costs (and abuses of that system), lost job wages, traffic accidents, crime and the associated criminal justice system costs.
  • The first, the most important, and the biggest fact of all, is that methadone is not a treatment for addiction. The word "treatment" means "a therapy used to remedy (make better) a health problem." Methadone does not make this health problem – addiction and dependence – better. It leaves the addict completely and utterly dependent on, and in effect addicted to, methadone instead of heroin.
  • A person who has been using methadone regularly (prescribed or not) will experience withdrawal once they stop taking the drug. The physical changes caused by methadone are similar to other opiates (like heroin) and may include a suppressed cough reflex, contracted pupils, drowsiness, and constipation.
  • A serious problem with methadone prescriptions in the past was that heroin addicts were often given sufficient methadone to last one week – or even one month. As a result, methadone addicts commonly sold their prescribed methadone in the illicit drug market.
  • As with heroin, methadone detox can be a painful process, and without the help of trained professionals it can be riddled with withdrawal symptoms.
  • About 20% of Methadone patients continue their Methadone treatment for more than 10 years.
  • The liver and kidney are affected and their functions are damaged when you continually ingest hard to process synthetic chemicals such as methadone.
  • Most states require that a physician document in the patient's chart that methadone is being prescribed for pain control and not treatment of drug addiction. Many hospitals, however, do not have methadone supplies in their pharmacies. All physicians with appropriate Drug Enforcement Agency registration may prescribe methadone for analgesia.
  • Some physicians also choose methadone for treating chronic pain in patients who are thought to have a propensity for addiction.
  • Deaths occur more frequently at the beginning of treatment in methadone programs. They are usually a result of excessive doses (i.e. erroneously estimated tolerance) and they are affected by concomitant diseases (hepatitis, pneumonia).
  • The noticeable effects of methadone can wear off long before the drug is out of a person's system, making excessive use very risky.