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What is Methadone Treatment?

Methadone is a medication known for its use in opioid maintenance therapy for those diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and used for treating addiction to heroin, narcotic pain medications, and opioids. Clinics have been using this treatment since 1947, and its use has helped millions of people to recover from opioid addiction. Addiction professionals can

administer the treatment to alleviate withdrawal symptoms while blocking the effects of opiates in the body’s system according to their tolerance level.

On its own, Methadone isn’t effective as an addiction treatment on its own, but when used as a stabilizer medication in conjunction with therapy and other traditional treatment methods, it significantly helps the recovery process.

Methadone is taken daily and is available in liquid, powder, and diskette form, and clinics also use it to reduce the risk of fatal overdoses. Unintentional overdose is possible if patients do not take it as prescribed by their medical professional. Patients can complete detoxification using methadone in approximately one to six months.

How Does Methadone Work?

Referred to as an “opioid agonist,” Methadone activates the opioid receptors in the brain, the same receptors that get used when taking opioids, except the process is much slower, and as a result, it blocks the euphoric effects of opiates. The treatment suppresses withdrawal symptoms for 24 to 36 hours and creates a safe method to curb cravings for opioids.

While painkillers and heroin are destabilizer drugs that can lead an individual into risky behaviors, methadone works to stabilize the patient’s mood swings, drowsiness, and other side effects caused by narcotics. When taken as prescribed, Methadone can help the patient function normally, and along with mental health counseling and support services, like NA meetings, the drug significantly helps prevent relapse.

The individual in treatment can benefit in the following ways:

Risks of Methadone

Though methadone has helped countless people recover from drug addiction, it is still possible to abuse opioids while taking methadone. A patient who uses opiates while on methadone can still overdose, especially if they are taking it to feel the desired effects. Withdrawal from methadone can feel like:

There are a few precautions while using a methadone treatment:
Reach out and take the first step. Speak directly to a professional!

What is a Methadone Clinic?

For people suffering from opioid, heroin, and prescription drug addiction, a treatment facility with healthcare professionals administer and monitor the use of this medication is called a Methadone clinic, or Opioid Treatment Program (OTP).

Certified doctors give the prescriptions for methadone after conducting a medical history and opioid use survey; certified medical professionals work to treat that patient comprehensively.

Patients must receive their methadone prescriptions at an actual Methadone clinic until they have demonstrated the ability to stay stable independently. Some patients take methadone for the rest of their lives, while others use methadone for a period to get their lives back on track. Factors taken into account with a patient at an initial session at a methadone clinic are:

  • Drug of choice
  • Timeframe of drug use
  • Medical history
  • Psychological evaluation
A visit to a methadone clinic will involve an assessment of a patient’s mental and physical health, drug use history, and blood and urinalysis tests. From there, medical personnel can put an individualized treatment plan into place for that patient. The initial requirement is that the patient comes to the methadone clinic every day and attends counseling sessions and groups, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Online NA meetings can also be helpful to those experiencing anxiety during the current pandemic. NA meetings will help the patients by facilitating: Online NA meetings can also be of helpful to those experiencing anxiety during the current pandemic. NA meetings will help the patients by facilitating:
  • Coping skills
  • Self-agency
  • Motivation by way of new ideas
  • Access to an active recovery network
  • Peer-driven learning
Opioid Withdrawal Opioid withdrawal is a response in the body that signals a lack of opioids in the system. These withdrawal symptoms can be acute when you suddenly stop taking opioids when you are dependent on them. Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal include:
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program

There are three main components of a methadone-assisted program that can aid in the recovery of a drug-addicted individual. 

  1. Administration of the methadone prescription in-person to help with the first signs of withdrawal without the “high” or drowsy feeling of a narcotic.
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps prevent relapse by teaching new skills and the ability to solve specific behavioral concerns; the patient gains an understanding of triggers and learns how to practice self-control.
  3. Support services, such as group counseling, relapse prevention counseling, sponsorship, and Narcotics Anonymous meetings help nurture the skills and mentality needed to maintain long-term sobriety.
Methadone detox