How It Works and Is It Safe?
Prescribed within opioid recovery programs since the 1960s, methadone has decades of clinical research backing the effectiveness of its use. Working with a patient’s central nervous system, methadone provides individuals with relief from the physical symptoms of withdrawal while keeping cravings for additional opioid use at bay. Given daily, methadone comes in the form of a liquid solution or dissolvable tablet that allows patients to play a role in their daily lives without experiencing cognitive impairments or disruptions.
When taken as directed and under the guidance of a trained medical professional, studies have confirmed that methadone is a safe, effective, and non-toxic treatment option for individuals who are struggling with an addiction to opioids. Experts have noted that the majority of side effects reported by patients who have been prescribed this medication are temporary and typically only take place during the induction phase of treatment.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), methadone is a safe treatment option for women who are battling an addiction to opioids during pregnancy. Methadone treatment during pregnancy does not pose any health risks to either the mother or her child.
Like most medications, there are risks involved when taking methadone if it is taken in a manner other than its intended use. Overdosing on methadone is a reality for individuals who abuse this substance for recreational purposes. One-third of all prescription medication deaths that take place each year are due to methadone overdose. These overdoses, however, are due to illegal use of methadone and are not associated with the use of methadone within medication assisted treatment programs.
When methadone is prescribed within a medication assisted treatment program and is taken as prescribed by a trained medical professional, the use of this medication is extremely safe.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Decades of clinical research has confirmed the safety and effectiveness of methadone in the treatment of opioid addictions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment programs that utilize methadone are the most effective currently available. The CDC also confirms that numerous studies have linked the following achievements to the use of methadone maintenance treatment:
- Decreasing or completely ceasing use of substances
- Lowering the risk of overdose
- Decreasing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- Increasing the average life expectancy (the median death rate of individuals addicted to opioids who take part in methadone treatment is 30% lower than those who do not receive treatment)
- Lowering the chance of taking part in criminal activities
- Improving family relationships and employment potential
- Increasing positive outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
When taken as prescribed within a licensed medication assisted treatment program, methadone is an effective and safe form of treatment for opioid addiction.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
The use of methadone is just one portion of a comprehensive treatment plan for opioid addiction. While methadone works to eliminate the physical symptoms of withdrawal, patients must also obtain treatment for the emotional component of their addictions as well. In addition to providing patients with relief from the physical symptoms of withdrawal, methadone also allows patients to experience the mental clarity that is required to successfully progress in treatment. By taking part in therapeutic interventions such as individual and group counseling, patients are able to address and treat the underlying factors that may have contributed to their addictions in the first place.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Although methadone has been clinically proven to provide patients with relief as they progress through treatment, it is important that they understand that methadone should not be viewed as a simple cure for addiction. In order for patients to achieve lasting recovery, they must understand that this process takes time, effort, and hard work. When taking part in a medication assisted treatment program, patients are provided with the treatment and guidance that is necessary to achieve their treatment goals. However, patients must also adhere to the guidelines and advice provided by their team of treatment providers. By listening to their physicians, nurses, and counselors, patients are able to successfully progress towards a life without opioids.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: In order for you to provide your loved one with support as he or she receives treatment for an addiction, you must first take care of yourself. Addiction impacts everyone who is involved, not just the individual who is physically abusing a substance. As the loved one of a patient, you can provide an immeasurable amount of support and guidance throughout his or her recovery journey. By educating yourself about the disease of addiction, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of your loved one’s limitations in treatment. It is also suggested that the loved ones of patients take part in family counseling, support groups, and individual counseling in order to obtain the information and support that is necessary for themselves. In order to provide the highest quality of care to those you love, you must first obtain care for yourself.
The Side Effects of Methadone
The following are potential side effects associated with the use of methadone:
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Slowed breathing
- Skin rashes
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
For more information about methadone, as well as the other treatment options available, please contact New Hampshire Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.