How It Works and Is It Safe?
Out of the many medications that are utilized for treating addiction, none have been more researched than methadone. Taking methadone for an opioid addiction can impact the central nervous system in ways that reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Since the 1960s, methadone has been utilized in treatment programs. This medication, which is administered in either a dissolvable tablet or a liquid solution, has been proven by clinical research to be highly effective and safe.
Numerous studies have proven that when methadone is taken as prescribed and under the care of a medical professional, serious health risks (short-term and long-term) are unlikely to occur. Experts who have followed methadone research also attest to its safety and non-toxicity. In addition, these same experts stated that any side effects that do develop in response to methadone are temporary, and typically only occur at the start of treatment when a medical professional is working to find the appropriate dosage for the patient.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS), women who are pregnant can safely consume methadone to help overcome an opioid addiction. In addition, the DHSS also supports research that shows that using methadone during pregnancy causes no serious health risks to a mother or her baby.
As with any medication, however, methadone can be dangerous if used for recreational or abusive purposes. Today, methadone overdoses account for one-third of all prescription medication related deaths each year. Overdose is a very real possibility for those who abuse it recreationally. However, it is critical to understand that the deaths that occur from overdose occur as a result of abuse, not as the result of participation in a certified medication assisted treatment program.
When taken as prescribed by a physician and within the limits of a medication management program, methadone is safe to use.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Because of data that has been conducted over the past few decades, experts are confident in stating that while methadone is safe to use in opioid addiction treatment programs, it is also highly effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment that incorporates the use of methadone is one of the most effective forms of opioid addiction treatment available.
It is also important to note that methadone is also a highly cost-effective form of care. In addition, various studies have shown that using this medication can also bring about the following positive outcomes:
- Total cessation or reduction of drug use
- Reduced risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- Reduced risk of overdose
- Improved family stability and employment potential
- Lesser likelihood of engaging in criminal activity
- Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
- Increased life expectancy (those who participate in treatment for opioid addiction have a 30% longer life expectancy than those who do not)
When used as prescribed and within a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is effective in treating opioid addiction.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
Methadone is only one aspect of a complete medication assisted treatment program. The use of methadone leads to relief of drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which allows patients the freedom to go forth in their recovery with a clear state of mind. This also encourages patients to actively participate in the therapeutic elements of their care, where they will be asked to address the underlying issues that contributed to the development of their addictions.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Methadone is championed for its safety and effectiveness, however it is critical to understand that this does not make methadone a miracle drug. It takes hard work and dedication for an individual to overcome an addiction and live a healthy life. Once you begin your treatment in a medication assisted treatment program, you will connect with addiction specialists, nurses, counselors, and doctors who are experienced in helping individuals, such as yourself, succeed over opioid addiction. If you listen to their advice, participate in your treatment, and follow their direction, you can dramatically improve the odds of you remaining in recovery for the long-term.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: Above all else, it is imperative that you take care of yourself prior to taking care of anyone else. Yes, your loved one has negatively impacted his or her life in many ways, however your life has been impacted, too. Therefore, to provide the best form of support to your loved one, speak with his or her treatment program to obtain resources and support. In addition, educate yourself about addiction and recovery, what your loved one can and cannot do while recovering, and what he or she will need from you to be successful. You can also participate in family therapy, individual therapy, and support groups to help continually care for yourself so you can care for your loved one.
The Side Effects of Methadone
Below are some of the possible side effects associated with the use of methadone:
- Sleep problems
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Slowed breathing
- Skin rashes
- Abdominal pain
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
For more detailed information regarding the effects of methadone use, and to understand how the use of this medication can impact your or your loved one’s life in a positive way, contact us at Sacramento Comprehensive Treatment Center. We are here to help.