How It Works and Is It Safe?
Out of the handful of medications that are used to treat addiction, methadone is one that has been highly studied – more so than the rest. This medication, which is administered via a dissolvable tablet or a liquid solution, is taken once daily and impacts an individual’s central nervous system to help curb cravings and decrease withdrawal symptoms. Since the 1960s, methadone has been used within opioid recovery programs due to clinical research that proves its safety and effectiveness.
A number of studies have found that when methadone is taken as prescribed by a certified provider, it does not cause short-term or long-term risks to the user. Experts who study methadone research have stated that this medication is medically safe and non-toxic. Additionally it has been found that the side effects that come with methadone use are often temporary and most likely occur during the induction phase of treatment when a patient is adjusting to his or her dosage.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement confirming that women who are pregnant and struggling with opioid addictions can safely consume this medication without causing harm to themselves or their babies.
However, as with most any medication, methadone can be dangerous if it is used in a manner unintended by a professional. Overdosing on methadone is likely amongst those who abuse it recreationally and/or with other substances. Today, one-third of all prescription drug related overdoses occur at the hands of methadone. However, it is critical to understand that these overdoses are linked to the abuse of methadone, not the use of it within a licensed medication assisted treatment program.
When taken as prescribed and while being monitored by a professional within a certified program, methadone is safe.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Decades of collected data have allowed experts to confidently say that while methadone is not only safe, it is also highly effective in treating opioid addictions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment that includes the implementation of methadone is the most effective method of treating opioid addiction today.
Methadone is also a highly cost-effective method of treating opioid addiction. The CDC also states that in addition to this, numerous studies have found that the below listed successes are connected to treatment that involves methadone maintenance:
- Improved family stability and employment potential
- Increased life expectancy (the average rate of death amongst those opioid addicts who do not participate in medication assisted treatment is 30% less than those who do)
- Lesser likelihood of engaging in criminal activities
- Reducing or stopping drug use
- Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
- Reducing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B
- Reducing the risk of overdose
When it is taken as prescribed and within a certified medication assisted treatment program, methadone is an effective means of treatment.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
Methadone is just one aspect of a complete medication assisted treatment program. This medication is effective in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which allows patients to obtain a clear state of mind so they can focus on the therapeutic aspects of their care. In other words, methadone is effective in controlling the physical aspects of opioid addiction so individuals can focus on the psychological piece of it at the same time.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Even though methadone is safe and effective, it is critical to understand that this medication is not a one-stop-shop for treatment. There is no medication that can cure all areas of an individual’s addiction, as overcoming an addiction requires time, effort, and dedication from the patient. When you join a medication assisted treatment program, you will be entering into a partnership with counselors, doctors, and nurses who are trained in treating individuals just like you who are trying to defeat opioid addictions. By taking their advice, following their lead, and actively participating in your treatment, you can ensure that the time you spend within a medication assisted treatment program will set you up for long-term recovery.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: The first rule in being supportive to your loved one in treatment is ensuring that you are practicing good self-care. Your loved one has suffered at the hands of his or her own addiction, however it is important to understand that you have been affected as well. Therefore, to provide the most support for your loved one, not only should you care for yourself, but also reach out to his or her treatment program or other experts to obtain the resources you need at this time. Become educated about the disease of addiction, learn what the benefits and limitations of treatment are, and find out what your loved one will be needing from you during treatment and well into his or her recovery. Family therapy, support groups, and individual counseling are all terrific resources that you can benefit from. Never forget the importance of taking care of yourself.
The Side Effects of Methadone
Below are some of the potential side effects linked to methadone use:
- Dry mouth
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Sleep problems
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Slowed breathing
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Skin rashes
To learn more about the side effects of methadone, and to find out how this use of this medication can impact you, please reach out to Brattleboro Comprehensive Treatment Center. We are here to help.