How It Works and Is It Safe?
Out of the many medications used in the treatment of opioid addiction, none have been more closely studied than methadone. Given in a liquid solution or a dissolvable tablet, methadone stimulates the central nervous system in ways that help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Since the 1960’s, methadone has been used in the treatment of opioid addiction, and decades of research have supported its safety and effectiveness.
A great deal of studies have determined that when methadone is taken as prescribed and under the supervision of a medical professional, that there are no associated short- or long-term health risks. Experts who have reviewed research done on methadone have also determined that it is medically safe and non-toxic. These same individuals also reported that methadone’s side effects are generally temporary, and typically only occur during induction, when an individual is first working with his or her provider to determine the appropriate dosage.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) released a statement that confirmed that pregnant women can safely take methadone if they are struggling with opioid addiction during pregnancy. According to the DHSS, the use of methadone throughout a pregnancy will not cause any health risks to mothers or their babies.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Decades of data have allowed experts to comfortably state that while it is not only safe, methadone is incredibly effective in treating opioid addiction. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that treatment that includes the use of methadone is the best form of opioid addiction treatment available.
Methadone, which is also cost-effective, can bring about a number of successes. According to the CDC, some of the associated successes from using methadone have included:
- Reducing risk of overdose
- Reducing or stopping drug use
- Dramatically increasing life expectancy, as the median death rate of those who abuse opioids is 30% higher than those who receive treatment
- Reducing the risk of developing hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C
- Improved family stability and potential for employment
- Decreased chance of participating in criminal activity
- Improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies
When taken as directed and within a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is safe to use and is effective.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
Methadone is only one aspect of a complete and comprehensive treatment program. This medication works to stop drug cravings and cease pain associated with withdrawal. As a result, individuals are able to maintain the clarity of mind needed to continue to actively participate in the therapeutic aspects of their treatment. One way to view this is to see methadone as a method of treating physical addiction symptoms, while therapy helps work out the underlying psychological issues that have led to the addiction itself.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Even though methadone is championed for its safety and effectiveness, it is imperative to recognize that this medication is not a miracle drug. There is no single medication that can cure all of an individual’s issues or make him or her want to live a healthy life. Recovery requires effort, time, and dedication. When you participate in a medication assisted treatment program, you will work alongside nurses, doctors, and counselors who are trained in helping individuals such as yourself overcome the challenges that you are experiencing. By heeding their advice, listening to their directions, and staying actively involved in your treatment, you can improve the potential success of your time in treatment.
How You Can Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: Above all else, you must understand that the only way that you can be a supportive family member, spouse, or friend is that you have to take care of yourself. Yes, your loved one has caused extreme damage to his or her life due to opioid addiction, however your life has been impacted, too. To give the best support possible to your loved one, speak with the specialists at your loved one’s treatment program who can help guide you towards obtaining the information and support that you need. Spend time educating yourself about addition, learn what the benefits and restrictions of treatment are, and determine what your loved one will need from you during treatment and recovery. Keep in mind that you can obtain support and encouragement from family therapy, individual therapy, and support groups while your loved one is in treatment. Remember, to provide the most care for your loved one, you must care for yourself as well.
The Side Effects of Methadone
Below are the possible side effects associated with the use of methadone:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Slowed breathing
- Skin rashes
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Sleep problems
- Nervousness or anxiety
For more information regarding the side effects of methadone, and to learn more about how using it can impact you, reach out to Portland Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.