Methadone Addiction: Are You Aware of the Dangers?

Methadone addiction is real and more of a danger of being abused than what one would consider.  Methadone is a long-acting synthetic opioid medication most often used to treat addictions to other opioids, such as heroin. Methadone has been used to treat moderate to severe long-term chronic pain since the early 2000s. While the medication is considered a standard treatment option for both purposes, the safety of using methadone is now a cause for concern among prescribers and patients alike.

At GateHouse Treatment, we understand the dangers that methadone presents to individuals struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs). Fortunately, recovery from methadone addiction is entirely possible. Read below to discover some facts you may not have known about methadone addiction and how GateHouse can offer the tailored treatment you need for recovery.

What is Methadone Addiction, and How is it Abused?

When methadone is used in treatment to curb opioid use disorders (OUDs), it is administered via prescription and closely supervised by medical professionals. However, due to its role as an opioid, individuals can quickly become dependent on the medication and potentially develop a methadone addiction. The likelihood of these circumstances increases significantly when those taking methadone to treat an OUD abuse their medication and take it more than the intended amount. The term ‘methadone abuse’ describes any individual who illicitly uses the drug, which can instigate various short and long-term effects and quickly lead to addiction.

There are many reasons why methadone can so quickly attribute to opioid dependency. Firstly, methadone does not create the same euphoric effects as heroin or morphine since its primary purpose is to block the sensations of other opiates; even though it creates some effects of euphoria, these effects are much milder. The problem arises when individuals take methadone between their use of heroin and other opiates to avoid the physically demanding consequences of withdrawal. In turn, they rapidly build up a tolerance, leading to them taking higher or more frequent doses.

At this point, taking methadone is merely a way for these individuals to prolong their use of opiates rather than abstain. If individuals do attempt to abstain from methadone following abuse, they become susceptible to increased cravings and painful withdrawal symptoms, which leads to a dangerous cycle that can be life-threatening.

What Are the Side Effects of Methadone Abuse?

When an individual abuses methadone and risks developing an addiction, they become prone to various adverse side effects that can be detrimental to their physical and mental well-being. Some of the more common side effects of methadone abuse include the following:

  • Lack of focus and concentration
  • Decreased cognitive function and lack of coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Depressed respiratory function and heart rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constricted pupils

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Methadone Addiction?

Prolonged methadone abuse and addiction can result in long-term mental and physical health risks. These effects can sometimes trigger even when patients use the drug correctly. Many of these effects closely mirror those of other opioid abuse and can range from:

  • Heart complications
  • Mental health disorders
  • Brain damage and loss of cognitive function
  • Respiratory problems
  • Hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in body tissue)
  • Menstrual cycle and pregnancy complications in females
  • Increased risk of overdose and death

How is Methadone Abuse and Addiction Recognized?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, text revision (referred to as the DSM-5-TR), has created criteria for substance use disorders highlighting the warning signs of methadone abuse and other OUDs. According to the manual, individuals display warning signs of a SUD when they cannot stop using, use more than is intended, and focus extensively on drug-seeking activities. They may also neglect responsibilities, engage in dangerous activities while using, experience problems in their personal lives and relationships, and even continue using the drug in light of mental and physical health consequences.

Some signs highlighted in the DSM-5-TR are more specific to methadone abuse, especially for those prescribed the medication. These can include:

  • Completing a prescription far before the instructions indicate
  • Using multiple doctors to receive more prescriptions
  • Unexplained disappearance of prescriptions
  • Theft and other dangerous activities as a means of obtaining prescriptions

As with any SUD or OUD, those close to a struggling individual should consider intervention methods as soon as these warning signs and symptoms arise. If left alone or ignored, the chance of severe health complications and overdose increases significantly. GateHouse Treatment offers resources for families and loved ones who wish to utilize an intervention for an individual struggling with methadone abuse. A strong family/social support line is crucial for a healthy recovery, and interventions can serve as a rallying point to initiate the required change. Contact us today for more information regarding the first steps to a successful intervention.

Methadone Addiction: Treatment and The Road to Recovery

Recovery from methadone addiction is possible, but since the drug is an opioid, multiple intervention methods are required to achieve total sobriety. In nearly all instances, a complete medical detox and comprehensive therapy must pair together when taking the first steps toward recovery. Detoxification is imperative for minimizing withdrawal symptoms and cravings; therapies can teach individuals skills and techniques to manage these symptoms while addressing underlying issues contributing to their abuse.

Many therapies exist that can help overcome a methadone addiction, and individuals should be aware of all options available before starting a recovery program. For a personalized and one-on-one experience, behavioral therapy may be the best fit, as it allows for direct engagement with a counselor who can help an individual develop the necessary skills to avoid relapse. Individuals seeking more social interventions also have a wide range of options. For example, they can consider group therapies such as peer support groups and 12-step programs or family counseling for an extra line of support from their loved ones.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is another reliable option for overcoming an OUD. This method uses various medications in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling and is proven to help people recover from OUDs. At GateHouse Treatment, we offer MAT to create a solid foundation for our client’s early recovery process and pair these treatments with encompassing behavioral health and mental health services. We also understand that some medications used in MAT (such as buprenorphine) can cause dependency. For this reason, we only use Vivitrol (naltrexone) to keep side effects to a minimum and provide a reliable means for recovery administered and monitored by medical professionals.

Recovery From Methadone Addiction Starts at GateHouse Treatment

GateHouse Treatment is committed to providing all the necessary tools for recovery from opioid use disorders such as methadone addiction. We offer behavioral therapies and counseling, an introduction to 12-step programs, and various aftercare plans so that anyone struggling with substance abuse can have the best chance at avoiding relapse.

We also offer a medical detox program for anyone looking to make the first steps toward recovery from methadone addiction or abuse. We understand that taking the first steps is often the most challenging task, so we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Contact us today at (855) 448-3588 to begin your road to recovery from methadone addiction.

Corey Rando

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