Methadone is used as a treatment for individuals who want to get off their heroin addiction. By taking the methadone pill or drinking or injecting it in liquid form, this drug which was once marketed as Dolophine when it entered the United States in 1947 allows heroin addicts to manage their withdrawal symptoms. Methadone may only be taken in methadone clinics and its effects can last for 4 to 8 hours.
Unfortunately, the use of methadone itself as a treatment for heroin addiction may also lead the way for methadone addiction. And based on what this synthetic opiate has presented to its users so far, methadone is even more addictive than heroin. Some users have even admitted that they have a far more difficult time kicking methadone than heroin.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that methadone stays in the body for a longer period of time compared to other drugs meant to keep a person from feeling pain. The half-life or the time that it takes for half of a drug to be flushed out of the body explains why methadone is addictive and dangerous. Whereas other painkillers are quickly eliminated from the body in just a few hours, methadone stays there for anywhere from 8 to 59 hours. That means that when a physician is not careful in administering methadone, it is very possible to have a toxic build up of methadone in the body which can cause death. Many methadone deaths due to overdose have been recorded.
Another reason why many people become dependent on methadone is the fact that the withdrawal symptoms experienced just become too painful. They experience muscle aches, restlessness, sweating, teary eyes, inability sleeping, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. When they continue to rely on methadone to prevent experiencing these symptoms, it’s already a sign of methadone abuse. Moreover, women who are breastfeeding should not use methadone because the drug gets secreted in human milk and the baby can experience the same symptoms as the mother who is abusing the drug.
When abuse continues, there is a danger of methadone overdose. This manifests itself in various symptoms which include muscle spasms, breathing difficulties, slow and shallow breathing, pinpoint pupils, bluish skin, bluish fingernails, weak pulse, drowsiness and low blood pressure. It can be dangerous when breathing stops and the user becomes comatose.
Thus, prompt treatment is necessary if you or your loved one has methadone addiction. Detoxification is an important component of treatment because methadone can be lodged in tissues in the body which can trigger cravings even after use of the drug has stopped. Thus, detoxification flushes these toxins out of the system. The rehabilitation facility may also employ medication-assisted therapy to wean an individual from methadone. Buprenorphine (Suboxone and Subutex) has been used to prevent the cravings and manage the withdrawal effects of methadone use. In some facilities, this is also accompanied by the use of saunas, exercise and nutritional supplements. With treatment, it is possible to get over methadone addiction and live life to the fullest once more without ever being dependent on drugs.