Methadone is a medication used to treat patients with an addiction to heroin and other types of drugs. Using methadone as a drug treatment mechanism is considered by many to be a controversial choice as methadone is highly addictive. Heroin addicts may "trade in" their heroin addiction to that of methadone. Since methadone is legally issued by clinics, the drug is easily accessed by users. Many people continue to use methadone for years after they have quit abusing heroin. Methadone is also now sold on the black market and a large number of people are abusing the drug.
History of Methadone
During World War II, the Nazis developed methadone. Once opium supplies where cut off, Hermann Goering, Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe and Hitler's designated successor ordered German drug companies to produce a wholly synthetic opiate that did not rely on poppy. As an opium addict himself, Hermann wanted to avoid the possibility of opium withdrawals. German chemists were able to create a drug, methadone that worked and lasted for longer lengths of times.
Doctors wanting to help their patients with an opiate dependency, quickly made methadone their opiate addiction drug of choice. Unlike heroin, which only last a few hours and requires several hits a day, methadone lasts between 24 and 72 hours reducing the need for multiple dosing.
How is Methadone Used?
Methadone is a synthetic opiate narcotic that is typically administered once a day. Methadone is taken orally and depending on the number of doses and the user's metabolism, can suppress a heroin addicts craving and withdrawals for 24 hours. Like other opiates, methadone patients can become as physically dependent on this opiate as they were to heroin and other opiates, such as Oxycotin or Vicodin. When an opiate addict uses heroin, it produces a cycle of intoxication followed by a period of normal mental functioning. Once the brain is returned to its normal state, the opiate abuser will experience the discomforts associated with withdrawals. Opiate withdrawal symptoms and carvings produce flu-like symptoms in the body and are often accompanied by pain, anxiety and depression.
When an opiate addict switches to methadone abuse, the normal opiate abuse cycle that needs to be repeated every 4 to 8 hours, is eliminated. Methadone is released much more slowly into the body and lasts longer than other opiates such as heroin. Hydrocodone, morphine, heroin and other short acting opiates, create abnormal processes in the brain. These processes interfere with the way the user feels and functions. Methadone abuse on the other hand, will stop many of the problems associated with the destructive process of abuse, come down and repeat. Methadone actual normalises important neurobiological functions. Once the methadone user has been stabilised on a proper dose, it will not produce the high or rush that is associated with other opiate abuse such as heroin.
Common Side Effects of Methadone Abuse
- Dry mouth
- Urinary retention
- Slow/troubled breathing
- Methadone addiction
Occasional Side Effects of Methadone Abuse
- Allergic reactions
- Skin rash
- Impaired concentration
- Sensation of drunkenness
- Blurred or double vision
- Facial flushing
- Heart palpitation
Other Potential Side Effects of Methadone Addiction
- Anaphylactic reactions
- Unstable gait
- Muscle twitching
- Myasthenia gravis
- Kidney failure
Long Term Effects of Methadone Addiction
- Abdominal pain
- Increased sweating
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Lowered sex drive
- Skin rashes
- Sore muscles and joints
- Tooth decay
Methadone Addiction & Treatment
Methadone is a synthetic opiate and the dependency it creates in the body is one of a physical addiction. Methadone, like heroin, Percocet, Oxycotin, and Vicodin, has the same characteristics as drugs in the opiate class. Many people who start using methadone become addicted and feel that they cannot function a day without it.
Methadone, which was designed as a synthetic opiate that would control Narcotic addiction, has become a drug that many users now depend on. Blind trials have been conducted in which opiate addicts were given both heroin and methadone orally and the result was that they were unable to distinguish the drugs apart. One serious issue with methadone addiction is the withdrawal period is longer than other opiates. Heroin addicts usually experience withdrawal symptoms for a period of seven to ten days. Methadone addicts on the other hand, may experience methadone withdrawal symptoms for a month or longer.
The irony with methadone addiction is that its intended purpose was to treat opiate addiction and instead it has created another vehicle for addicts to continue their addiction to opiates. Methadone which is supposed to be administered in a clinic can now be found on the black market and has been associated with numerous overdose deaths.
Another major danger associated with methadone addiction is the tolerance and dependency it creates in the user. Former heroin users claim that methadone withdrawal is much more painful and difficult than heroin withdrawal.
Unfortunately, many opiate addicts, primarily heroin addicts, go from being addicted to heroin to being a methadone addict. They may abuse methadone to "treat" their heroin addiction for years. Some claim they are afraid to stop as the withdrawals are so severe. The fact of the matter is that methadone addiction does not have to be the way of life for former heroin addicts. Methadone addiction can be conquered through gradual cessation followed by a drug-free rehabilitation programme.
Signs of Methadone Dependence & Addiction
- Lying to the physician about symptoms in order to obtain a higher dose of the drug
- Combining methadone with alcohol or other substances
- Taking more of the drug than the label indicates
- Using methadone while continuing to use heroin
Causes of Methadone Addiction & Dependency
Methadone addiction produces similar affects as other opiates in the user's body. Methadone abuse will cause a reaction in the pleasure centres of the addict's brain and creates feelings of well-being. Often times, heroin addicts will continue to abuse methadone just to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. Thus as heroin addicts turn to methadone to avoid the pain associated with heroin withdrawal, they in turn become more and more dependent on methadone and become methadone addicts.
Symptoms of Methadone Overdose
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty breathing
- Respiratory failure
- Pinpoint pupils
- Bluish skin, fingernails and lips
- Gastrointestinal spasms
- Weak pulse
- Low blood pressure
Methadone Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased blood pressure
Methadone Addiction Treatment
The process of treating methadone addiction is similar to the process an addict will experience when overcoming heroin abuse. The first step to methadone treatment is to seek the help of a professional drug rehabilitation centre. At The Cabin Chiang Mai, we understand how to treat methadone addiction. Our rehab centre is staffed with Western trained counseling specialists with experience in treating methadone addiction. Our programmes, which range from 14-90 days, are based on the 12 step model of addiction rehab.
Depending on the length of abuse and severity of methadone addiction, we will recommend a methadone addiction rehab treatment programme tailored to the addict's individual needs.
Through our rehab programme, methadone addicts are given a foundation in the 12 step addiction treatment. The 12 step model of rehab has long been recognised as one of the most successful therapies to treat drug addiction. As part of The Cabin's rehab programme, our counsellors integrate Cognitive Behavioural Techniques that help the methadone addict identify the feelings and circumstances that led to their addiction.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from methadone addiction, contact The Cabin Chiang Mai at email@example.com and inquire about our methadone rehab treatment programme. Our team of Western trained professional counselling staff will help guide you or your loved one through the process of recovery.
The Cabin Chiang Mai's Methadone Treatment Services
- 12 Step Treatment Programme
- Physical health evaluation
- Individual and group counselling
- Methadone addiction education
- Health and wellness education
- Fitness Therapy
- Art Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Methadone relapse prevention planning
- Managing sober time coaching
- Aftercare counselling