Methadone Addiction Help-Line

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What is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is different in the chemical structure to naturally derived products, such as opiates, even though it acts at the same sites in the body. It is this similar effect that makes Methadone useful as a treatment for heroin addiction. In several double blind studies, subjects were given both heroin and methadone and the large majority of the users could not tell the difference between the two drugs. Some addicts describe Methadone treatment as "halfway between abusing heroin and complete abstinence". An addict may be more likely to be able to stay with a gradual reduction in Methadone use than with other types of opiates or heroin.

Methadone is classified as a Schedule II drug which indicates that there is a high risk that drug dependence will develop with the use of this synthetic opiod. The pharmaceutical brand names of Methadone include Dolophine, Methadose, and Amidone. Depending on the dose of Methadone that is taken, an individual may experience side effects that may include drowsiness, lowered respiration rate, constipation, elevated moods and lethargy. The most notable difference when comparing Methadone to other opiods is that this synthetic drug has a much slower onset and lasts much longer in the body. Many experts believe that this is partially due to the method of ingestion-orally, as syrup, instead of by injection. Another characteristic of Methadone is that it does not offer the individual the same "rush" as heroin.

Methadone Facts

  • According to recent statistics by the federal government, this heroin-like painkiller ranks high in regard to prescription drug addiction across the country and Methadone is the fastest growing cause of drug related deaths due to narcotics.
  • Methadone now causes more than twice as many deaths as the drug heroin, which is the drug it was meant to replace.
  • Because Methadone is cheaper than most other prescription opiates, it is being prescribed by more family physicians for chronic pain.
  • Methadone overdoses between the years of 2000-2005 have increased by more than 500%-in 2000; there were less than 800 deaths, as compared to almost 4,000 deaths in 2005.
  • Methadone is at the least as addictive as heroin and other opiates.
  • Methadone can stay in an individual's system for up to 50 hours or longer, according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Heroin only lasts anywhere from 4-6 hours in the body.
  • Methadone can accumulate to toxic levels because unlike Heroin, users often cannot tell as easily is the drug is still in there system. The individuals may take dose after dose, not realizing that the previous dose is still affecting them. Often, these multiple doses are taken and it is more than what the body can tolerate. In these instances, the body can shut down and the person can die if medical help is not delivered quickly.
  • Combining Methadone with other drugs, such as opiates or alcohol can result in death.
  • The health of innocent newborns can be affected adversely is the mother is taking Methadone when she is pregnant.
  • Withdrawal from a heroin addiction usually happens within 7-10 days. Methadone withdrawal can often take up to a month or longer.
  • Methadone is frequently sold on the street and is highly sought out in the illicit drug market.
  • Many individuals swap addictions, getting off of heroin only to then become addicted to Methadone. Some of these individuals will seek Methadone treatment for many years because there fear of withdrawing from the drug is so great.
  • The highest instances of death that are related to Methadone programs frequently occur in the early part of the treatment and are usually due to excessive doses.
  • The wide spectrum of short term  side effects of opiates also pertain to Methadone and can include a suppressed cough reflex, drowsiness, contracted pupils and dizziness, pains in lower abdomen, impaired motor skills, blurred vision sexual dysfunction(impotence), respiratory depression and constipation.
  • The side effects of Methadone use in women can include complications in breast feeding,(infants have to be weaned very slowly off of their mother's breast milk to prevent opiate withdrawal symptoms from developing) and a great number of complications in pregnancy, including infants born with a low birth rate.
  • The latest Methadone studies indicate that use of the drug can negatively affect brain function and having the drug present in their system impaired the attention in experimental animals. The animal's attention was still impaired even after the drug was no longer present in the body.

Methadone overdoses are becoming more and more prevalent, as more and more doctors prescribe the drug for chronic pain. Also contributing to the easy access to Methadone,  has been a high number of cases in which doctors have dispensed the drug without due care-in effect, these medical professionals have been running 'pill mills' for cash. The common symptoms of a Methadone overdose may include muscle spasticity, respiratory problems, bluish fingernails, lips and skin, gastrointestinal problems, low and weak blood pressure, drowsiness, disorientation and coma. Other Methadone overdose symptoms can include bradycardia, convulsions, confusion, tremors and cold and clammy skin.

Methadone clinics are not the most viable solution when an individual desires to live truly drug free. Many individuals have experienced withdrawal symptoms from both heroin and Methadone, and a large percentage of these individuals have determined that the Methadone withdrawal symptoms were much worse. Very few individuals have been successful in trying to detox from Methadone without the help of a drug rehab center. Finding a drug treatment center that has a high rate of success in treating opiate addiction will help the individual to have confidence in the rehab center, as the best predictor of future results are past results. Sometimes just residing at the rehab center and being away from the familiar drug hangouts can really have a positive impact in an individual's drug recovery plan.  The first step towards getting your life back is finding the right Methadone addiction treatment program -the next step towards freedom should be to commit to that program in order finally be free from the vice grip of opiate addiction.

Methadone Facts

  • Inpatient methadone addiction treatment programs they have people watching over the recovering persons 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This program has all kinds of meetings, support groups, etc to help the person with the dependency out.
  • In the United States, methadone clinics stem from programs set up during the Nixon administration to combat heroin use, first in Washington, D.C., then nationwide. In addition to obtaining a daily methadone dose, some who go to this type of clinic for addiction treatment may receive some type of psychological counseling for their addiction. Some are required to attend such programs, but many are not.
  • Why do people develop a methadone addiction? People who use methadone experience similar effects as if they were using other opiates, albeit not to the same extent.
  • When used to treat narcotic addiction, Methadone maintenance suppresses withdrawal symptoms for 24 to 36 hours.
  • Withdrawal from methadone is much slower than that from heroin. Many MMT patients require continuous treatment, sometimes over a period of years or even a lifetime
  • With high doses, the sedation dominates and users feel sleepy. Too much and you can fall into a coma or stop breathing completely.
  • Your health, your mental energy, your clarity and balance, your finances and relationships with those around you – all of these parts of your life are at risk of serious damage when methadone addiction is a part of the equation.
  • Methadone's long period of effectiveness can be helpful when it is used properly for drug detox. However, it can be very challenging when someone is addicted to it and going through withdrawal symptoms.
  • Prescription abuse and Methadone Abuse, according to the National Institute of Health, impacts all Americans, because we all pay the cost for it.
  • Methadone was first marketed under the brand name Dolophine and was used as an analgesic (a painkiller) for the treatment of severe pain. It is still occasionally used for pain relief.
  • The noticeable effects of methadone can wear off long before the drug is out of a person's system, making excessive use very risky.
  • Methadone is one of a number of synthetic opiates (also called opioids) that are manufactured for medical use and have similar effects to heroin. Methadone and Subutex (Buprenorphine) are used as opiate substitutes for heroin in the treatment of heroin addiction.
  • 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.