Methadone Addiction and Abuse

Commonly used as a way to curb cravings for other opiates, methadone is also an addictive substance.

Methadone Defined

Methadone is a synthetic opioid prescribed for moderate to severe pain. It can be commonly used to treat opiate addictions, especially addiction to heroin. Methadone acts to stabilize patients and minimize withdrawal symptoms from illicit drugs.

Methadone is a federally designated Schedule II drug, meaning it has a legitimate legal use but also a high likelihood of its users developing a dependence.

Methadone Abuse

While methadone is used as a way to curb addiction and reduce cravings, it isn’t as heavily regulated as other drugs. However, it is still a powerful opiate with potentially addictive qualities. People who begin using methadone to overcome a heroin addiction are at a higher risk of abuse because of a history of opioid dependency.

Methadone does not create the same euphoric effects as heroin or morphine because it is designed to do the opposite. The drug is formulated to block the pleasurable sensations of other opiates. In spite of this, some people still take methadone illegally in search of a high.

Methadone Addiction

Addiction to methadone can be a controversial topic, since many in the medical community see it as a necessary aid in helping heroin addicts recover. As with any opiate, addiction is an all-too-common side effect. An addiction to methadone can come about because the drug eases a user’s pain.

Methadone and Other Drugs

Methadone is a depressant and can cause negative interactions with other drugs, especially alcohol. People struggling with a methadone addiction tend to also be alcoholics. This is a potentially deadly combination as the two together can pose dangerously health risks.

It is never recommended to use methadone with any other substance, even some herbal remedies (particularly St. John’s Wort). If you or someone you know has an addiction to methadone or any other substance, get help now.

Questions about treatment?

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Overcoming Your Methadone Addiction

Methadone can be very challenging to quit. Withdrawal symptoms can be significant and can be hard to overcome on your own. Call us to find help now in your fight to overcome methadone addiction.

Side Effects of Methadone Use

Methadone is most commonly administered orally, through pills or tablets. Some illicit uses of methadone may include crushing and swallowing the pills or administering the drug via injection. Intravenous use of methadone can lead to side effects like collapsed veins and transmission of other diseases, including HIV.

Potential Side Effects of Methadone:

  • Sweating
  • Impaired coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach cramps
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Recognizing a Methadone Addiction

A methadone addiction can turn healthy, happy people into dependent, depressed versions of themselves. Knowing what to look for in a methadone addiction can help you or someone you love regain control of life.

A red flag may be any time someone’s behavior changes dramatically, especially in correlation with starting or increasing doses of methadone. Here are some telltale signs of methadone addiction:

  •  Increased tolerance – When a methadone user develops a tolerance to the drug, they may have an addiction. This is usually the first sign, but on its own not always a surefire indicator.
  •  Presence of withdrawal symptoms – A habitual methadone user has unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. Symptoms range from depression to cramps to insomnia.
  •  Prioritizing methadone – When a methadone user chooses the drug over social and familial responsibilities, addiction may be present.

Because methadone is often used as a drug to wean addicts off of heroin, the effects and the consequent withdrawal symptoms between the two are similar. Some sources have gone so far as to say that withdrawing from methadone is even worse than withdrawing from heroin.

Potential Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Diarrhea
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression

Those with more severe methadone addictions will likely experience more serious withdrawal symptoms. If the user is addicted to multiple substances, the withdrawal process may be longer and more intense.

“I was withdrawing cold turkey, by choice, from methadone on my parents’ couch in Daytona Beach, 250 miles away from my clinic and conspiring ways to teleport the pink syrup, realizing what happened to me. I used to be a heroin addict, then I was a methadone addict. I sank my sweaty, twitching body into the cushions. Seventy two hours for the stuff to get out of my body, and a lifetime of convincing myself the grass isn’t greener on the methadone side.” – Jade Ryan, methadone addict working towards recovery, xoJane.com, 2014

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Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Duration of Withdrawal

Symptoms are typically present within 24 hours of the user’s last dose. However, it can take anywhere between 15 and 60 hours for methadone to be out of a user’s system. For some people, it may take several days for withdrawal to begin. Symptoms of withdrawal from methadone usually last three to six weeks, but the process can take longer for those with severe addictions.

The first seven to 10 days tend to be the worst, with flu-like physical symptoms and distressing psychological symptoms. Over the next several weeks, withdrawal symptoms will fade.

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

First 24 hours Symptoms of withdrawal usually begin within a day of a user’s last dose of methadone. Physical symptoms, such as chills, fever, rapid heartbeat, and muscle aches, will begin during this time.
Days 2-10 Over the next week or so, methadone cravings will be strong. Users may face paranoia, hallucinations and insomnia, as well as irritability and anxiety. Flu-like physical symptoms will persist, but should improve after about a week.
Days 11-21 At this point, most physical symptoms should have begun to fade. Users may still feel strong drug cravings and depression may set in. Depression can become severe and some patients may have difficulty feeling pleasure or getting motivated.
Days 22+ If any symptoms remain, they should be very mild. Depression may still be intermittent for several weeks as the body readjusts to life without methadone.

Treatment for Methadone Addiction

Drug treatment centers utilize the expertise of physicians and therapists to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient. An inpatient treatment program will give moderate to severe methadone addicts their best chance at a successful recovery. Outpatient treatment is also an option for those with mild methadone addictions.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a methadone addiction, you don’t have to suffer alone any longer. Please call us today for help finding a drug treatment center that fits your needs.

What to Expect from Treatment

Methadone treatment typically involves three parts: detoxification, inpatient treatment. and outpatient therapy

  • Detoxification is the most challenging part of treatment from a physiological perspective. Your body is essentially cleansed of year’s worth of chemical reconditioning.
  • Inpatient treatment allows for a distraction-free experience that provides a safe, comfortable place to re-learn how to live your life.
  • Outpatient therapy provides ongoing support for you as you go through one of the hardest things you may ever face.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Finding a Treatment Center

If you’re struggling with a methadone addiction, you’re not alone. Whether you started using methadone for pain or as a way to stop using another drug, you can come clean for good. Let us help you find the treatment you deserve.