Methadone is a synthetic opioid, in the same group of drugs as Fentanyl, oxycodone and other medications, and has medical uses that both mirror those of similar drugs but also has uses specific to it alone. Like other opioids, methadone can be used for pain, but it can also be used as a substitute drug in the treatment of morphine or heroin addiction. Methadone detox actually has a little more of a positive connotation as it can mean a person has sought and is getting help for their addiction to a harder drug in the opioid family. Methadone detox is used in this way as although it is addictive as well, it has less side effects and negative aspects and can more easily be slowly removed from a person’s system. Methadone detox is often done through a methadone clinic, where former heroin addicts receive daily doses that are decreased over time until a person has completed their methadone detox and are completely drug free.
When someone is addicted to heroin, it can easily have taken over every aspect of their life to the point where their only goal each day is to acquire the amount of heroin they need and to get high. In the case of many heroin addicts, taking the drug becomes more of a necessary daily routine than a pleasurable event, as they heroin addicts need to take the dosage level that their body has become accustomed to or they will go into withdrawal. Withdrawal is often thought of as what happens when a person stops taking a drug entirely, and can affect people when they stop using everyday substances like nicotine or caffeine, as well as when they quit using harder drugs or alcohol. However, withdrawal can begin in two other scenarios. One being when a person takes less of a dose than their body is used to, either because they are trying to stop using or cannot get or afford the amount they usually take or when their body has reached a plateau and is craving more of their drug of choice and the individual takes the same amount they typically use. This is very common with heroin users, many of whom are aware of the exact dose level they require each day, but because of daily use, continue to build a tolerance for the drug.
For these reasons, methadone is an excellent course of treatment for heroin addiction. Treatment specialists can analyze exactly how much heroin an individual takes on a regular basis and mirror that with a dose of methadone. From this starting point, a person then continues through methadone detox, which for some people, can take years to complete depending on how high a dose and how long they were addicted to heroin or other drugs in the same family. When a person has been addicted to a drug, especially one in the opiate category, for a long period of time, changes have been made to both their body and mind and slowly reducing a substance in their body is the best way for them to detox from having any type of drugs in their system. During this period, whether it is weeks or months or years, a person can adjust to the fact that they are doing something positive and removing the substance from their body will help them return to a positive, drug-free lifestyle.
Substitute drug protocols can and should be combined with other treatment options to maximize the possibility of a person’s success in recovery. Many people relapse, or go back to using drugs, one or more times in their effort to get clean, but any time this can be avoided it is a big plus in working towards the ultimate goal of being drug free. By taking part in counseling and support groups, a person going through methadone detox can learn a lot about successfully living in recovery.
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