How It Works and Is It Safe?
Of the many medications utilized in the treatment of opioid addiction, none have been more researched than methadone. This medication is effective by impacting an individual’s central nervous system in ways that stop withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Methadone is given once daily via a dissolvable tablet or as a liquid solution that is taken orally. Since the 1960s, this medication has been a go-to for treatment programs, and ever since, has yielded support from professionals based on its scientifically-proven effectiveness and safety.
Handfuls of studies have shown that when methadone is taken as directed by a medical professional, there are no dangerous short- or long-term health risks. Similar studies have also proven that the use of methadone is both non-toxic and safe. It has also been documented that if side effects do occur, they do so at the beginning of treatment (also known as the induction phase), as an individual is getting used to his or her dosage.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has stated that methadone is safe for use by women who are pregnant and battling opioid addiction. In addition, the DHSS also stated that there are no risks to a mother or her child when taking methadone as part of medication assisted treatment program.
However, despite its record of safety and effectiveness, methadone can be dangerous if misused. There is always a possibility of methadone overdose when taken recreationally and without the guidance of professionals within a medication assisted treatment program. In fact, one-third of all prescription drug related deaths each year are caused by methadone overdoses. Again, these overdoses generally occur amongst individuals who abuse methadone, not those who take it within a medication assisted treatment program and with the help of trained professionals.
When taken as prescribed under the supervision of a professional, methadone is safe to use.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Due to an enormous amount of data and research, experts say with all confidence that methadone is effective in treating opioid addiction. In fact, methadone is so effective that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that it is the most effective form of opioid addiction treatment today.
The CDC supports the proof that methadone is not only cost-effective, but also successful in helping bring about the below listed successes:
- Reduced risk of overdose
- Reduction or total cessation of opioid drug use
- Decreased likelihood of engaging in criminal activity
- Reduced risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C
- Increase in life expectancy
- Better outcomes for women and their babies
- Improved family stability and employment
When used as directed and under the care of professionals in a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is effective and safe.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
For patients, methadone is only one part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This medication is extremely helpful in preventing withdrawal symptoms and lessening the temptation to use opioids. As a result, a patient is able to focus on the other aspects of his or her recovery. So, while methadone helps keep physical symptoms under control, a patient can work to process the emotional, behavioral, and psychological issues tied to his or her addiction.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Even though methadone is championed as being safe and effective in treating opioid addiction, that does not mean that it is a cure-all when it comes to working on recovery. Methadone is not a miracle drug, as transforming from an individual with an addiction to an individual in recovery takes times, effort, and persistence. Once you become part of a medication assisted treatment program, you will begin working with nurses, doctors, and counselors who are trained in helping individuals, such as yourself, fight back against opioid addiction. If you follow their guidance, take heed to their advice, and actively engage in your treatment, you can put the odds in your favor that you will be successful in treatment and throughout your recovery.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: The most important thing you can do if you want to support your loved one in treatment is put yourself first. While it is obvious that your loved one has caused damage to his or her life, you must also realize that his or her addiction has affected you as well. To help care for yourself in ways that allow you to support your loved one, speak with his or her treatment provider to help you connect with the appropriate resources. Learn as much as you can about addiction and recovery, including what to expect from your loved one as he or she embarks on his or her recovery journey. Look into family therapy, support groups, and/or individual counseling to continually receive your own encouragement and support. Never forget to take care of yourself.
The Side Effects of Methadone
Below are some of the possible side effects that can come from taking methadone:
- Slowed breathing
- Sleep problems
- Abdominal pain
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Nausea or fatigue
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Skin rashes
- Dry mouth
For more information regarding the potential side effects of methadone, as well as to learn more about this medication, contact East Wisconsin Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.