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Methadone Abuse and Addiction – The Paradoxical Opioid

Methadone is a synthetic opiate drug that has been around since the 1930s when it was first developed. It works similarly to morphine and heroin and is used to control chronic pain. It’s also become popular for treating addiction to other opioids. People who are going through Methadone detox or rehab may hear about this drug as part of their treatment plan.

Even though it’s given as a prescription medication, the drug isn’t completely safe. In fact, in 2005, over 4000 had fatal overdoses on Methadone or a combination of it with another drug. If you’ve been taking this drug, you may be concerned that you’ve become addicted to it. No matter the circumstances surrounding the use, you can overcome your addiction with a drug rehab facility.

How Methadone Works

Methadone is sold under several different brand names, including:
  • Diskets
  • Methadose
  • Dolophine

Methadone works by changing the body’s threshold for pain, and it’s one of the go-to choices for this purpose because it’s much more affordable than other options and because the effects can last a long time. This drug is prescribed to help with heroin or morphine withdrawal because it blocks the euphoria feelings that are associated with other opioids. It also reduces the symptoms of withdrawal. To receive this drug for addiction, you must go to a rehab clinic which uses medical detox.

When the drug is used for pain, it’s often combined with Benzodiazepines. It’s less expensive than other pain medications, which is why insurance companies have often encouraged doctors to prescribe it. Methadone is a cheaper option for opioid pain medication than many other products on the market.

As far as its addictive capacity goes, Methadone is very addictive, and the probability of becoming addicted to it increases the longer you use it. For this reason, the drug should only be used in the short term, and when it’s used long-term, it’s easy to build up a tolerance to it. When this occurs, people may find that they’re not getting the relief they once were with the medication, and so they will increase their dosages on their own or take the next dose sooner than they should. The risks increase for those who are using it in a drug rehab program because many of those users take it for 12 months or longer.

Methadone is a very dangerous drug when it’s taken long-term, and many people don’t realize how addictive it is, especially since it’s given as a prescription medication. Addiction can happen quite by accident, but the effects are the same. You can overcome this problem by finding a local drug rehab facility to help you with recovery.

How to Tell if You’re Addicted

For some people, addiction is a gray area. It’s possible to be unsure as to whether or not you’ve developed an addiction to Methadone, and it can be helpful to know what to look for in someone who is addicted to it.

You may be in need of drug treatment programs if you:
  • Have experienced an increase in your heart rate
  • Have had difficulty with your memory
  • Have ever used Methadone in a way that’s contrary to its prescription
  • Have noticed that your dose doesn’t seem to be working for you as well as it once did
  • Have tried to stop using but found that you couldn’t

If you can identify with even one of the items on this list, it’s probable that you have an addiction that requires rehab to recover from it.

One way to become addicted to Methadone is to use it for a long time. Another issue is through abusing this highly addictive drug. Many people use the terms “drug abuse” and “drug addiction” interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. It’s important to understand each term so you know where you are along the spectrum.

Drug abuse happens when you use a drug in a way that’s different than intended. For example, you may have been given a prescription to Methadone, but you feel it isn’t working as well anymore so you increase the dose. Perhaps your pain starts bothering you before its time for the next dose so you take it a little sooner. These actions are the beginnings of drug abuse.

You may also be abusing a drug when you take it without a prescription or when you go to several doctors to get multiple prescriptions so you can take extra pills.

Another sign of abuse is when you change the method. Instead of swallowing the pill, you crush or mix it with a liquid so you can snort or inject it. The reason for these changes is so you can get it to work faster and experience a stronger high.

If you continue to do this, your body will become dependent on the drug. It takes more of the drug to get that euphoric feeling you want because your system has developed a tolerance. You must increase the amount you’re using and take it more often. Your brain has reduced the natural chemicals it produces since the drug provides the needed euphoria. When the drug isn’t in the body, the system goes through withdrawal until you get more of it. At this point, you can say you’re addicted and not just abusing the drug.

Other signs of drug abuse include the following:

  • Spending more time thinking about it even when you aren’t using
  • Avoiding activities where you can’t use or where people will question your use
  • Taking extreme steps to get more of the drug, including stealing it or money to buy it off the street
  • Getting into legal or financial trouble and continuing to use
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while using

If any of this sounds like you, it’s important to know you can get help with a drug rehab center.

The Dangers of Methadone Abuse and Addiction

Methadone is a dangerous drug and one that should be taken seriously. You should report to your doctor if you notice any of the following side effects:
  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Chest pain
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Hives or rash
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion

If you have asthma or a heart condition, taking this drug can lead to serious complications, including death.

It’s possible to overdose on Methadone, especially if you combine it with other drugs. You should watch for specific symptoms of overdose and get help immediately. These symptoms include slowed breathing, a slow heart rate, pinpoint pupils, extreme drowsiness, weakness in your muscles, skin that feels cold and clammy and fainting.

When doctors prescribe this medication to help with pain relief or to deal with a drug addiction, they must monitor the patient carefully. They may need to see the person more often, and they usually start out with the lowest dosage necessary for it to be effective. When it comes time to take the person off the drug, they often lower the dosage or reduce the frequency to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

A person who takes Methadone for a heroin addiction may be on it for several months, even a year or longer. Heroin is such a difficult drug to break away from that it can take months for the body to readjust to life without it.

It’s not safe to take this drug with others, even if they are prescription medications. When you combine Methadone with another opiate like OxyContin, you’re at a greater risk for overdose. The reason is they are both opiates and offer similar effects. When taken to the extreme, they can cause your heart or breathing to stop.

Though not the same type of drug, alcohol should also be avoided when you’re taking Methadone. It reacts in a similar way with the central nervous system, acting as a depressant, which means it will slow down your heart rate and breathing. The result is low blood pressure along with a weakened heart rate. It can even put you in a coma if you combine alcohol with the drug. The risk of death is higher as well.

When you combine an opioid like Methadone and a stimulant, you’re also putting yourself in danger. The stimulant increases the heart rate and other systems, which means you may not be aware of how much Methadone you’re taking or how it will impact your body. The stimulant will leave your system faster which will leave more of the other drug and may lead to a toxic amount.

Another concern with this combination is the increased risk for injury. Because the stimulant makes you feel invincible and confident, you may attempt risky behaviors. Coming down from the drugs often leads to more severe withdrawal symptoms, which will increase the likelihood that you’ll use again to stop those unpleasant effects. You’re more likely to become addicted when you combine multiple drugs.

How Long Does Methadone Stay in the System?

How long this drug is present in your system will depend on how much you’re using and how it’s being tested. If you’re going to have a urine test done for a job offer or another reason, you’ll test positive for this drug for up to two to four days after your last use. A blood test will only show it for about 24 hours.

Methadone Rehab Information

However, you may notice the effects of this drug for up to a week after your last use. It will take that long for it to get out of your system and for the withdrawal symptoms to start going away.

One of the biggest concerns for anyone abusing a drug is what symptoms of withdrawal they will have if they decide to stop using. Methadone comes with its own set of withdrawal symptoms that you need to be aware of.

You’ll generally start to experience these symptoms the next day after your last use. You may experience them sooner if you’ve been taking a high dosage of Methadone or combining it with other substances.

Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal for Methadone include:

  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Tiredness but difficulty sleeping
  • Yawning
  • Watery eyes

You’ll generally start out feeling like you have the flu. Symptoms will continue for about a week. You’ll also experience the following:

  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Goosebumps
  • Depression

You’ll crave the drug as well. Your symptoms will peak sometime during the first week, but some may continue for several weeks afterwards, including depression and insomnia. The risk of relapse is high because you don’t want to continue fighting the symptoms when you know the drug will make you feel better for a while.

Detoxing from Methadone

To begin your recovery from addiction to this drug, you’ll need to get it out of your system. This process is called detoxification and is the first step in your treatment. When you detox, you cleanse the system from the drug and allow it to go back to normal function.

Because your body has developed a dependence on the drug, it will fight you on this effort through withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, you need to find a detox facility to help you. These programs usually have two methods of detox.

Because Methadone is an opioid, medical detox may be recommended as an option to help you with the withdrawal symptoms. Certain drugs, like naloxone and clonidine are given to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and shorten the timeline of detox. One of the main issues with this approach is the risk for continued addiction, especially if you began taking Methadone for addiction to another drug.

A second method of detox is one which focuses on natural healing. Holistic detox focuses on helping you get healthy through nutrition and exercise so your body can fight off the withdrawal symptoms naturally. It helps your body begin producing the chemicals you need naturally in your body and strengthens your immune system. This method is often seen as the better option in many cases because you don’t have the risk for a secondary addiction. It also teaches you how to take care of yourself to prevent addiction in the future.

Drug Addiction Treatment

Drug detox is just the first step in the process of recovery from addiction. You still need to seek treatment through therapy and other programs. Even if Methadone was prescribed to you which led to your addiction, you need to deal with this issue and learn how to avoid the situation in the future. You’ll find several options for drug addiction treatment.

The idea of going to an inpatient rehab might seem a bit scary to you, and if it does, that’s OK. There are a lot of people who feel nervous about the thought of going away to get treatment for their addictions. However, this method of drug rehab is in place for your safety.

When you’re addicted to a drug that’s as powerful as Methadone, the risk of relapsing and overdosing is very high. It’s essential for you to get the professional support you need during this time so that you’re protected against a possible relapse and overdose. In addition, inpatient rehab gives you access to treatments that will aid you in your recovery, such as:

  • A 12 Step Program to help walk you through the steps to a successful recovery
  • Group therapy based on your unique needs as a patient
  • Individual therapy with a counselor who can help you identify and heal from the source of your addiction
  • Treatment for any co-occurring disorder that may make it hard to recover from an addiction
  • Family support to help your family understand your recovery goals and progress

Most inpatient drug rehab centers allow you to stay up to 30 days. If you need more intensive treatment, you may want to consider a residential rehab center. With these programs, you can stay for several weeks or even a few months as you work on your recovery.

Another option for treatment is outpatient care. You still get the therapy you need to recover from addiction, but you don’t reside at the facility. Outpatient programs usually require you to attend therapy a few hours each week. One of the advantages of this type of treatment is the flexibility you have in scheduling your appointments. You can go during the day while the kids are in school or at daycare or you can attend in the evenings or on weekends so you don’t miss work.

To be successful with an outpatient program, you must be dedicated to recovery. You should have a strong support system with family and friends and be able to avoid negative influences. An intensive outpatient rehab center provides similar treatment, but you usually attend every day for several hours or even all day. You can still be at home with your family or continue working, but you will have more support to keep you on track. There may also be restrictions about where you can go when you aren’t in therapy.

What Does Rehab Cost?

It’s possible that you’ve thought about going to drug addiction treatment in the past, but you always put it off because of how much it costs for that kind of care. You may remember a time when people had to pay for rehab out of their own pockets because their health insurance plans would not cover it, but those days are long gone. Now, all health insurance companies are mandated to provide coverage to help people pay for addiction help. This is such a great chance, and it’s resulted in so many more people getting the professional help they need for their addictions.

Should You Try to Quit on Your Own First?

You may be tempted to try to quit using Methadone on your own first, without professional help, but this is highly discouraged. Withdrawal symptoms can become severe, and they are usually difficult enough to cause someone to relapse. Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Becoming extremely paranoid
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Chills and sweating

It’s best to not attempt to stop Methadone on your own, and instead, choose drug rehabilitation to guide you and help alleviate these and other withdrawal symptoms.

What Will Happen at Rehab?

It can be intimidating to go to a place where you don’t know anyone or what to expect. You probably feel vulnerable and even embarrassed to think you’re addicted to a prescription drug. It may make you feel better to know what will happen when you sign in to a drug rehab facility.

One of the first things that will happen is you’ll receive an assessment. The information gathered will tell the therapist what kind of treatment plan you need. The best drug addiction treatment centers will develop an individualized plan based on your unique needs and situation.

Your treatment plan may consist of several types of treatment. You can almost always expect it to include one-on-one counseling sessions with a licensed therapist. In these sessions, you’ll discuss your addiction, what caused it, and what you need to do in the future to avoid turning to drugs. You may have to deal with some unpleasant issues that have caused problems in your life. Individual therapy is an essential part of drug rehab.

Another important component to treatment is the group meetings. Other recovering addicts get together and discuss their addictions. You’ll develop friendships as you build a support network, a group of encouragers who want to see you succeed.

While it may seem awkward to talk about such a personal issue as drug addiction with strangers, it’s often easier than discussing it with family and friends. You’ll quickly learn to appreciate these group meetings and look forward to them as they help you keep your focus.

More drug rehab clinics are turning to a holistic approach with a focus on wellness. Treating an addiction means taking care of the whole person. You’ll learn how to eat healthy foods which can help you feel better and have more energy. If you suffer from a physical condition that led to your need for Methadone, you may be given a non-traditional approach to deal with the pain. Sometimes, changing your eating habits or doing yoga can reduce the pain or help you deal with it.

Exercise is also an important part of a wellness program. A good workout releases the same kind of hormones in your brain as a drug, but without the addiction or side effects. You’ll feel more confident and good about yourself when you’re taking care of yourself physically and emotionally.

Medication may be an essential component of your treatment plan. You may need a new prescription medication for your pain or to deal with your heroin addiction. You may suffer from a dual diagnosis, which is a mental health disorder and an addiction. In this case, a medication may be necessary to treat the symptoms of the mental illness.

More drug rehab clinics are including alternative treatments as part of the program. They have come to realize that drug addiction treatment can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach or it won’t be successful. To aid in creating programs that have better success rates, they are turning to other forms of treatment.

An example is with art or music therapy. Another option would be physical activity like hiking or spending time outdoors in other pursuits. The person may enjoy gardening or caring for animals. Their interests can often be used to assist with therapy. For instance, a person who struggles to share their emotions verbally may benefit from journaling.

If these programs sound interesting to you, it’s a good idea to check around to find out what is offered in the drug rehab centers nearby. The more options you have available, the better decision you can make about the best treatment for your situation.

As a person works on overcoming their addiction, they will need to deal with other situations. They may have broken relationships or problems in the family that led to the addiction. These must be addressed during treatment. If possible, family therapy may be the answer to help start the healing process.

Many drug addiction treatment centers have the recovering addicts get involved with the community. They may volunteer in service projects and find ways to give back. Helping others who are less fortunate or in need can give recovering addicts a sense of purpose. It makes them feel good to be needed and to do something selfless.

Many times, a recovering addict needs continual support even after they complete treatment. The 12-step programs that are available offer regular meetings for times when the person feels the need for additional encouragement. Narcotics Anonymous has numerous groups throughout the country that meet throughout the week. Even if it’s been years since you last used the drug, you may face cravings at certain times. Attending a meeting can help you fight the feelings of wanting to use and give you the determination to avoid relapsing.

When you consider what kind of treatment you need to overcome your addiction to Methadone, compare the different treatment centers and what services they offer. You want to find the best drug rehab to help you reach your goals of recovery.

Amytal Addiction Treatment

Choosing Drug Addiction Treatment in Washington State

When you have an addiction to a drug like Methadone, it’s always best to get professional help when you’re ready to quit. This is such a potent drug, and it’s very effective when it’s used properly. Whether you’ve become addicted to it without realizing it, or you’ve been knowingly abusing it for a long period of time, drug rehab programs are designed to help you overcome your addiction.

You can turn to Northpoint Washington to help you deal with addiction. Our modern facilities are comfortable and inviting. We provide individualized treatment plans for all who come to our center. Our small facility is perfect for anyone who wants more interaction and support from staff. We have numerous programs, including individual counseling and group therapy. You’ll also discover that recovery isn’t all about work with yoga classes, hiking and other activities. You’ll build relationships as you become part of a community and find your place in this world again.  

Here at Northpoint Washington, we’ve had the privilege of offering drug rehabilitation to so many people in the State of Washington. We use a comprehensive and targeted approach that is designed to meet your unique needs as a patient. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help you overcome this powerful addiction. Please contact us to learn more.

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Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

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Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Boise, Idaho.

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Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Washington State.