Medication Assisted Treatment: What Is Methadone?

Medication Assisted Treatment: What Is Methadone?

What Is Methadone Used For?

Methadone is a form of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) used as a treatment of substance use disorders, specifically to treat opioid use disorder. It is a prescribed medication that medical professionals can administer at treatment programs to help foster long term recovery. This medication can help with pain relief from withdrawal by easing symptoms and cravings.  Methadone can be administered in pill, liquid, or wafer forms.

Medication Assisted Treatment is used as a treatment option that helps patients begin the recovery process with less cravings and symptoms, so they can better focus on their healing. While methadone is considered an effective opioid treatment program, it is by no means a cure for substance use disorders. Treatment of opioid dependence also requires counseling and behavioral therapy, drug use education, support groups, and dedication to recovery.

How Does Methadone Work?

Methadone blocks the opioid receptors in your brain to decrease the chances of  relapse. Methadone blocks the effects of illicit drugs and prescription painkillers, so the urge to use these substances is lessened. This medication is typically first administered during medical detox and then continued throughout the rest of treatment.

A team of medical professionals will prescribe methadone to clients suffering from opioid use disorder. As methadone itself can become addictive if not taken as prescribed, it is important to receive this treatment from certified healthcare providers. Each dose of methadone is formulated specifically for each client, and typically will receive periodic adjustments so patients can be slowly detached from dependence on substances.

Is Methadone Addictive?

Just like any drug, methadone has the capacity to become addictive if abused, but it is not inherently addictive. When it is administered by medical professionals at a rehab facility, patients only receive a controlled amount that they cannot abuse, and then are slowly weaned off the dependence on this substance.

Since methadone blocks the opioid receptors in your brain, it does not produce any euphoric effects that come along with opioid use. Not only does this help reduce the risk of relapse, but it also reduces the risk of dependence on methadone as well, as it will not produce the same effects present in substance abuse.

Can Methadone Have Side Effects?

Methadone does include a variety of side effects that a patient may endure, although these are less intense than the side effects of opioid use and opioid withdrawal. Even when taken correctly, methadone can have certain side effects such as lightheadedness, shallow breathing, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, confusion, hallucinations, tremors, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Although these side effects sound frightening, opioid withdrawal symptoms and potential relapses are much more threatening, as these can result in fatality. When taken as prescribed, this medication cannot result in overdose. 

When taking methadone, patients should avoid alcohol consumption and be cautious when 
driving or operating machinery. It’s also important to store the medication at room temperature, as well as keep it away from light sources. Patients should avoid Medication Assisted Treatment if they are not receiving it from a medical professional, or if they have become addicted to the drugs prescribed before.

Methadone should also be avoided in patients who take other medications, such as anti-anxiety, 
antidepressants, pain medications, sleeping pills, or medication for heart arrhythmias. If you plan to become or are pregnant, do not take this medication. If you have low blood pressure, breathing disorders, or seizures, methadone treatment is not right for you.

Is Methadone Treatment Worth It?

Although methadone has side effects and can potentially be abused, it is a much safer
alternative to opioid addiction. Since this treatment blocks the opioid receptors, it decreases the rate of relapse and helps patients stay on the path toward recovery. When used in addition to other treatments for substance abuse and mental illness, such as counseling and behavioral therapies, along with support groups like Narcotics Anonymous, patients have a greater likelihood of overcoming their addiction. As mental health issues can often lead to substance use disorders, therapy is important in
treating the cause of addiction, while methadone simply treats the symptoms. With Medication Assisted Treatment, patients are able to begin a new path in life, free from the burden of substance abuse.  Find out more information concerning whether methadone treatment is right for you by contacting our staff at Fusion Recovery.

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