Methadone has been one of the most popular opioid alternatives prescribed to addicts to help them fight off cravings and withdrawal symptoms during their recovery and treatment. However, doctors have recently become more cautious when prescribing the drug to patients suffering from addiction, as methadone’s addictive properties and overdose danger have become more apparent.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone, also known as Dolophine or Methadose, is a synthetic opioid that is less potent than commonly abused alternatives like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Medication-assisted treatment for opioids like heroin has traditionally made use of methadone as a weaker alternative to help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent a relapse that could lead to an overdose.
This is possible, as methadone acts on the same receptors other opioids would while providing a long-acting effect that limits the potential for abuse as much as possible.
Being an opioid, however, means methadone itself is addictive and can quickly increase tolerance and dependence in the people who use it as a recovery aid. Once you stop using methadone, you can experience a range of adverse effects known as withdrawal symptoms.1
Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms
The effects of Methadone withdrawal vary in severity according to the amount and duration of use, but typically include:2
- Muscle pain
- Stomach ache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Elevated heartbeat
- Increased tear production
- Runny nose
These symptoms usually start appearing around 24-36 hours after your last dose and can last between a couple of weeks to six months.3
The Danger of Quitting Methadone Cold Turkey
Detoxing from methadone alone at home can be dangerous. The withdrawal effects and cravings for the drug can be extremely severe and could lead to a relapse and overdosing on methadone itself or on the drug you were using before being prescribed methadone.
Having the right supervision and support can significantly reduce your chances of relapsing and suffering a fatal overdose. You could also access medication that can reduce withdrawal if you undergo treatment in a facility with trained medical staff.
Why Experts Recommend Medical Withdrawal for Methadone
Methadone treatment typically begins with a methadone detox, during which all traces of the drug are expelled from your body as you go through withdrawal under medical supervision and care. This treatment process is often recommended due to the dangers of going through withdrawal and detox on your own, which could lead to negative withdrawal symptoms, relapse, and possibly a fatal overdose.
A methadone rehab can provide you with a range of treatment options at this point, including methadone withdrawal drugs like Suboxone and buprenorphine, which help reduce dependence and withdrawal symptoms, respectively.
As with all programs involving a detox from drugs, after completing the facility’s detox program, you will likely be moved to a residential or outpatient program for long-term treatment.
These treatment plans typically include:
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Substance use education
If a loved one or you suffer from addiction, contact our team at (833) 489-5577 to get the help and treatment you need.