Methadone is a drug that can be incredibly helpful when someone is trying to overcome an addiction to heroin or other opioids. Unfortunately, this medication can also be addictive in its own right. People who are dependent on or addicted to methadone will experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous if not managed properly.
If you are abusing or addicted to methadone and are unsure of how to stop, Vertava Health has a number of treatment options to help you both detox from and overcome an addiction to methadone.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a drug that is commonly used to help individuals quit heroin or other opioids. This medication, which is only available with a prescription, can reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and combat cravings. Methadone may also be used to treat severe pain that does not respond to other pain relievers.
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This medication works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain to change how the brain perceives pain in order to provide pain relief. It also blocks the euphoric effects of other opioids, making it helpful in opioid addiction treatment. As an opioid agonist, methadone is considered an opioid and can be abused and addictive if used for prolonged periods of time.
Methadone Dependence and Withdrawal
People who take methadone for an extended period or who abuse methadone and become dependent on it are likely to experience methadone withdrawal when stopping the drug. This is especially true if a person suddenly stops taking methadone rather than slowly tapering off the medication.
Methadone dependence and addiction often don’t happen purposely. Individuals overcoming heroin or other opioid addiction may begin to take methadone as part of a treatment program. Unfortunately, this drug can replace the previous drugs of abuse if not taken exactly as prescribed and closely monitored by a doctor.
If a person is dependent on methadone and trying to quit taking the drug, a medically supervised detox program is the best and safest way to do so.
Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms
Methadone withdrawal symptoms are similar to the withdrawal symptoms of other opioids. However, methadone stays in the system much longer than other medications, meaning individuals can experience withdrawal symptoms for a longer period of time. Withdrawal symptoms can also take up to 30 hours to begin after the last use of the drug.
Common methadone withdrawal symptoms include:
- muscle pain and aches
- runny nose and eyes
Many people describe the onset of methadone withdrawal symptoms as feeling like they have the flu. Symptoms are often the worst after 72 hours and then begin to subside. Because of how long methadone stays in the system, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms for a number of days or even weeks.
Methadone Detox Process, Therapy, And Withdrawal Timeline
People will typically begin to feel withdrawal symptoms around 30 to 36 hours after last using the drug. Each person will experience methadone withdrawal differently and for different periods of time. The longer a person has been dependent on methadone, the slower he or she will need to taper off the drug.
Most physical symptoms subside after around 10 days. However, a person may continue to experience symptoms for several weeks depending on the severity of his or her addiction. Individuals can also begin to experience psychological symptoms like irritability and depression one to two weeks after quitting methadone.
The safest way to withdraw from methadone is in a medically supervised detox program. Detox programs can provide round-the-clock supervision and ensure patients are as comfortable as possible throughout the detox process. A detox program can also provide medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms.
Common medications used to treat methadone withdrawal include:
- Zofran — This drug can help to alleviate symptoms such as vomiting and nausea that may occur during the methadone withdrawal process.
- Baclofen — This medication can be taken to help reduce muscle pain and spasms during the withdrawal process.
- Suboxone — This drug is similar to methadone but may be safer and less addictive than methadone. Suboxone may be prescribed to help a person transition off of methadone and to prevent a person from relapsing on opioids.
- Naltrexone — This drug is typically administered after the detox process is complete. Naltrexone can help reduce cravings for methadone and other opioids to promote long-term sobriety.
Everyone is different and will experience methadone withdrawal differently. This drug should never be stopped “cold turkey,” as this can result in potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Finding Care And A Treatment Center To Overcome Methadone Abuse And Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with methadone addiction and are unsure of how to stop, there are several treatment options available. Vertava Health has several rehab centers throughout the nation with detox programs that can help individuals get off methadone and begin a life in recovery.
To learn more about methadone withdrawal and detox, contact an Vertava Health treatment specialist today.