Methadone is an opiate, originally designed as a painkiller. In modern times, Methadone has turned into more of an opioid maintenance drug, and is often considered to be synonymous with heroin and the heroin culture. The drug may still be prescribed for pain relief, but only in extreme cases. Methadone is now primarily used as a detox medication for heroin users. Methadone offers long lasting alleviation from pain, and can work for up to 24 hours. This can help an individual go through the withdrawal symptoms of heroin, and then can keep them from using once these initial symptoms have passed.
Seen as a safer alternative to heroin, Methadone is often given to heroin addicts who have limited access to additional treatment, as a way to self-medicate and refrain from using. The problem is, without further treatment, addicts often either return to using heroin, or remain addicted to Methadone. Methadone primarily comes in liquid form and is typically ingested. There are tablet and injectable forms of medication as well. Methadone has its own illegal commerce and is considered an illicit drug when purchased or sold outside of a medical setting.
Methadone is commonly looked at as a substance that is mildly harmless because it is often compared to heroin, and is looked at as a ‘cure’ for heroin. The truth is, Methadone can be just as addictive and is not a way to solve heroin problems. When Methadone is used as a band aid for heroin addiction, other treatment programs that are better equipped to handle one’s addictive nature, can be overlooked. Heroin and Methadone addiction both need inpatient treatment with long term recovery programs and relapse prevention as part of the recovery process.
Individuals who are using methadone might look functional on the outside, but maintaining the right balance when it comes to opiates can be tricky. Similar to other drugs that can cause an overdose, not all individuals can handle the same amount of Methadone, especially when factoring in any other drugs that the person had previously built a tolerance to. If an individual is fully enrolled in a methadone maintenance program, dosages can be monitored and they can be medically supervised on daily amounts of drugs administered. If people try to self-medicate, they can run into trouble and even possibly overdose on Methadone.
The signs and symptoms of Methadone addiction are often similar to those of heroin dependence. Being such an extreme opiate addiction, it is common for an individual’s life to become consumed by the drug. Addicts begin to lose sight of the activities and interests that they once enjoyed, and tend to pull away from their loved ones. Even if a person is taking Methadone while in treatment, they will be surrounded by addicts during their various stages of recovery, which is not the best setting for overall successful treatment.
Depending on the duration of time an individual has been addicted to Methadone, and whether other opiates have been used in the past, can shed light on signs and symptoms of use. The unsettling truth of the matter is that, once an individual is in a maintenance program for Methadone, they are still physically dependent on opiates. Physically, an individual that is newly addicted to Methadone might have slow breathing, small pupils, low blood pressure and drowsiness. Methadone cause those who are new to the drug or using it as a means for curbing heroin cravings to feel nauseous at first.
Once an individual is dependent on Methadone, either solely from this opiate or as a secondary addiction after heroin, long term treatment should be sought out to help them wean their body off of opiates for good. Detox should be medically supervised, much like that of a heroin user. Addicts will face severe flu-like symptoms and will have intense cravings to use in order to feel ‘normal’ again. Once an individual has gone through detox and is physically free of the drug, they may feel cured and recovered, but without further emotional treatment, relapse will be imminent. Those going through treatment for opiates will need to deal with the underlying reasoning behind their developed addiction, and participate in a long term Methadone rehab and recovery program so that they can better avoid relapse in the future.
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