How It Works and Is It Safe?
First used in opioid recovery programs in the 1960’s, methadone has decades of clinical research studies behind it that support its safety and effectiveness. Given in the form of a liquid solution or as a dissolvable tablet, patients are given methadone to help aid in their recovery process from opioid addiction. Methadone is a non-toxic medication that works within an individual’s central nervous system to lessen opioid withdrawal symptoms, while also decreasing cravings for additional opioid use.
Studies indicate that when methadone is used under the supervision of trained healthcare professional, it carries no significant short or long-term risks to the user’s health. Studies show that patients that do experience side effects only experience them temporarily during the induction phase of treatment, at which time the patient is likely becoming accustomed to this medication physically.
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, methadone is safe to prescribe to pregnant women who are addicted to opioids. Additionally, taking methadone when engaged in addiction treatment while pregnant does not cause any harm to the baby or mother.
As is the case with most medications, methadone can be unsafe if taken outside of the prescribed directions. Overdose on methadone is a possibility for individuals who abuse it for purposes other than what it is prescribed for. One-third of all prescription medication deaths are due to methadone overdose. However, it is important to note that these deaths are linked to illegally abusing methadone and are not linked to taking this medication within a medication assisted treatment program.
In sum, methadone is extremely safe and effective when used under the supervision of healthcare professionals within a comprehensive medication assisted treatment program.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment that includes the use of methadone to combat opioid addiction is the most effective form of treatment currently available. Decades of clinical studies and data verify the safety and effectiveness of methadone within a medication assisted treatment program to fight opioid addiction.
Below are examples of the positive effects that are known to occur for those who are prescribed methadone within a medication assisted treatment program:
- Decrease in drug use
- Lowered risk of overdose
- Decreased chances of developing HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B
- Increased average life expectancy
- Decreased likelihood for taking part in illegal activities
- Improved family relationships
- Improved potential for employment
- Decreased health risks for pregnant women and their babies when working on recovery from opioids
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
Methadone is just one component of a comprehensive medication assisted treatment program. While methadone works on the physical aspect of addiction by lowering drug cravings and the pains associated with withdrawal, patients must also address the emotional components of addiction. Methadone gives patients the clear minds required to focus on treatment and utilize therapy sessions to address the underlying causes of their addiction.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Although methadone has proven to be a safe and effective route for many patients to take, it is also important to realize that no medication is a “cure all” for addiction. Since recovery requires commitment, time, and effort, patients must be willing to partner with the physicians, nurses, and counselors within a treatment program in order to achieve the building blocks necessary to achieve sobriety.
By following the suggestions and advice of our dedicated medical team, as well as playing an active role within your own treatment, you can increase your chances of long-term recovery.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: In order to provide support and care to someone you love who is struggling with an addiction, you must first provide care for yourself. Although you may physically not be the one addicted to opioids, addiction affects you as well. By learning more about the disease of addiction and understanding the boundaries of treatment, you will be able learn what your loved one requires from you throughout the course of his or her treatment. Attending family support groups, as well as counseling, will provide you with support and encouragement from others who truly understand the impact that addiction can have on a relationship. Remember, before you are able to provide care for someone you love, you must take care of yourself.
The Side Effects of Methadone
The following are potential side effects that have been reported by those who have been prescribed methadone:
- Dry mouth
- Sleep problems
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Skin rashes
- Abdominal pain
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Slowed breathing
Please contact a Sandhills Comprehensive Treatment Center today to learn if methadone is the right fit for you. We look forward to hearing from you.