How It Works and Is It Safe?
There are numerous medications available that are used for addiction treatment, however none have been more researched than methadone. This medication, which is administered either through a dissolvable tablet or a liquid solution, impacts an individual’s central nervous system by stopping withdrawal symptoms and the cravings that are associated with opioid use. Since the 1960s, methadone has been utilized in opioid addiction recovery programs, and decades of research back its safety and effectiveness.
A variety of studies have shown that when methadone is taken as directed by a certified medical professional, individuals are at zero risk for suffering from short- or long-term health issues. Experts who study methadone champion its safety and non-toxicity, as well as the fact that most side effects associated with this medication are typically temporary and only occur during the induction phase of treatment and/or when dosage is being determined.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women who are pregnant and battling an opioid addiction can safely consume methadone without causing harm to themselves or their unborn babies.
However, as with any medication, using methadone can lead to serious consequences if taken outside the guidelines of a medical professional. Methadone overdose is very real risk for those who choose to abuse it recreationally and/or in combination with other substances. Today, methadone overdoses make up one-third of all prescription drug related deaths. However, keep in mind that these overdoses occur in individuals who abuse methadone, not those who take it as prescribed and under the supervision of a medical professional within a medication assisted treatment program.
When taken as directed and under the care of a licensed provider in a comprehensive treatment program, methadone is safe for consumption.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Due to years and years of mounting data, experts are more than comfortable backing methadone for its safety and effectiveness in treating opioid addiction. This medication has also received support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as they state that the use of methadone for the treatment of opioid addiction is the most effective form of treatment today.
The CDC also states that methadone is a cost-effective form of treatment. Additionally, they support the numerous studies that show the following successes to be common amongst individuals who obtain this medication:
- Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
- Reducing or stopping drug use
- Improved family life and employment status
- Reducing risk of overdose
- Lesser likelihood of a person engaging in criminal activity
- Reducing chances of contracting hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, or hepatitis C
- Increasing life expectancy
When taken as prescribed and within a medication assisted treatment program, the use of methadone is effective.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
Methadone is only one aspect of a complete medication assisted treatment program. Methadone works to reduce drug cravings and lessens the severity of withdrawal symptoms, which allows individuals the mental stability and clarity to move forward with the therapeutic aspects of their program. In other words, while methadone suppresses physical symptoms, therapy helps individuals address and process the underlying causes behind the development and continuation of their opioid addictions.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Methadone is both safe and effective, however it is critical that you understand that this medication is not to be viewed as a “miracle drug.” There is no medication that can relieve you from all of your life’s challenges and achieving recovery requires dedication, effort, and time. When you begin a medication assisted treatment program, you will be connected with doctors, counselors, and nurses who have experience in offering help to individuals, such as yourself, in recovering from an opioid addiction. If you heed to their advice, follow their direction, and actively engage in your care, you can dramatically improve the likelihood that your treatment will allow you achieve and sustain long-term recovery.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: Before you do anything else, it is most important that you put yourself first. If you ignore this step, you will be unable to appropriately care for others in your life. Your loved one’s life has been deeply impacted by his or her opioid addiction, however, your life has been impacted, too. Therefore, to be able to offer the most effective support for your loved one, speak with his or her treatment program to obtain resources that can help you during this time. Additionally, obtain an education about addiction and recovery so you can understand the benefits and challenges that your loved one is going through, as well as learn what you will need to do to be most supportive. Family therapy, individual counseling, and support groups can all serve as resources for education and encouragement, too. Above all else, do not forget to take care of yourself so you can successfully support your loved one as the therapeutic process is navigated.
The Side Effects of Methadone
Below are some of the possible side effects related to the use of methadone:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Skin rashes
- Sleep problems
- Slowed breathing
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Abdominal pain
For more detailed information about the potential side effects of methadone, and to find out how this medication can impact you, contact Temecula Valley Comprehensive Treatment Center today.