Methadone Withdrawal, Doctors, and Treatment

A person may suffer methadone withdrawal symptoms when he or she stops using it. There are methadone withdrawal treatment options available.

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Methadone can be useful for treating severe opiate addictions, but before starting treatment with this drug, patients and doctors must consider how they will handle methadone withdrawal once treatment comes to a close. Whether your treatment is done in an inpatient clinic or on an outpatient basis, methadone is a powerful option that can help you detox successfully.

Methadone Information Overview

Methadone is frequently used to treat heroin addiction, and it is also useful in the treatment of addictions to other opiates, such as morphine and OxyContin. Methadone can also be used as a pain reliever for severe pain that other pain relievers cannot help. When not used exactly as prescribed, methadone can cause severe side effects, some of which can be deadly. When used as part of opiate addiction treatment, methadone must be prescribed by a doctor who specializes in drug addiction and who has acquired the necessary permits to prescribe the drug. Methadone doctors can only prescribe the drug under a treatment program that has been approved by both the state government and federal government. To receive methadone treatment, you must take part in one of these approved programs. These treatment programs typically include individual counseling and behavioral therapy in addition to the administration of methadone.

Choosing the Best Opiate Detox Medication

There are a few other drug options that can be used instead of methadone when treating addiction to opiates. Buprenorphine is another drug that can be used to reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms. This drug may produce fewer withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it and may have fewer side effects. Both buprenorphine and methadone can be used for long-term maintenance. You should discuss your options with your doctor and decide together which medication is the best choice for you.

Withdrawing from Methadone

Because methadone causes effects in the brain similar to other opiate drugs, suddenly halting its use can be extremely uncomfortable, although withdrawal symptoms are typically not dangerous. Methadone withdrawal is generally done in stages. Your doctor will gradually decrease your dose over time to try to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms when cutting down on methadone are similar to the withdrawal symptoms when halting use of other opiates. Emotional symptoms are common, including anxiety and agitation. Physical symptoms that appear early in the withdrawal process include teary eyes, muscle aches, yawning, sweating, draining sinuses, and insomnia. After a while, more severe symptoms develop, including cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Withdrawal symptoms usually begin about 30 hours after your last dose of methadone.

Follow-Up Care and Methadone Maintenance

In some cases, a maintenance schedule of regular doses of methadone can help speed recovery from opiate addiction. Maintenance doses are administered daily at a hospital or clinic. Methadone maintenance may take place over the course of a few years. Once you have begun to participate in a methadone-based detoxification program, you must also begin other forms of treatment. Because methadone maintenance can take an extremely long time, you should not wait until it is complete to start other treatment options. In addition to individual counseling and behavioral therapy, you might also participate in a 12-step program or family counseling. The entire process can be completed in an inpatient or outpatient setting, but many people opt to start detoxification in an inpatient clinic or hospital and then switch to outpatient services once a regular methadone schedule has been established. Methadone withdrawal can be handled at any outpatient clinic specializing in the use of methadone to treat opiate addiction.