Long-Term Effects of Methadone

Long Term Effects of Methadone

Methadone is an opioid narcotic drug. It is commonly used for treating withdrawal from other types of opioid drugs such as heroin and Oxycontin. It is also a long lasting, easy to take pain reliever that is given to people for treating chronic pain.

In many cases, methadone is the drug many people prefer to use in order to relieve the pain they feel on a regular basis. However, a lot of people don’t understand the risks of the drug. It can be very addictive. The drug can also cause mild, moderate, and even severe symptoms, especially when taken over a long period of time. The high a person gets from taking the drug is much different than heroin. However, when a user abuses it, they can get similar effects as they would when using other opioid drugs.

Methadone has the potential to be dangerous, but it can provide relief for those who take it properly. If a person takes the drug in high doses, cutting down on dosages can be quite easy. However, it is a good idea to get medical supervision when you stop taking it.

Reasons People Take Methadone

One of the reasons people take this drug is to eliminate cravings. However, to achieve this medical professionals who prescribe the drug should carefully monitor your dosage. When a person starts a long term methadone treatment program, they are usually tapered down to a particular level in order for it to stabilize over time. Once this level is established, you will develop a tolerance to methadone. This can reduce the occurrence of psychological and physiological effects such as constipation, cognitive function, sedation, and nausea.

Another reason many people use methadone is to relieve pain. Methadone is a highly potent painkiller. However, it is important to use the drug properly and under the supervision of a medical professional. In Methadone Maintenance Treatment, MMT, the drug is prescribed to people who have other opioid drug addictions in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms. However, it is essential for medical personnel to monitor the drug to prevent overdoses. Methadone can stay in a person’s body for around 56 hours. This is why an overdose can easily take place when a person takes doses so close together.

Methadone Treatment – Is it for Life?

Generally speaking, people usually ask how long a particular treatment lasts, but with methadone the answer is a difficult one. Some people only need to take methadone for a week, some for months, some for many years, and some for the rest of their life. However, many studies show that less than one in five people who use methadone will take it for more than 10 years. When methadone treatment is taken for a long period of time, they are at higher risk of turning back to opioid use.

Process of Methadone Treatment

Learning the process of methadone treatment can be beneficial to those who are considering this type of treatment program. First of all, there is an induction process. During the induction stage of MMT, your dosage will be adjusted to the point where you no longer have drug cravings.

The next stage in the process has to do with rehabilitative and maintenance. Once you reach a steady, comfortable dosage, you will continue taking your daily dosage during this part of the process. However, when you get to the point in which you have made positive life changes, show compliance, and enter into the maintenance stage without relying on illicit drugs, you might be allowed to increase the amount of take home doses provided to you weekly.

Another part of the process involves tapering your methadone. Generally, at any time, a person may be allowed to start tapering their dosage in order to quit using the drug. However, many physicians recommend a patient wait at least one year or longer of MMT before they begin to taper their dosages in order to see better treatment results.

Long Term Benefits of Methadone Usage

Methadone is considered a safe way to treat those with opioid addictions, as long as it is properly taken along with therapy and monitored by a medical professional. In most cases, methadone keeps patients from getting high from other types of opioid drugs.

For people who undergo MMT, the end goal is to get back on track to living a normal life, without the use of drugs. When a person starts taking methadone under the care of a medical professional they learn about substance use disorder treatments, have vocational counseling, and get resources which can guide them to living a drug free life.

People who take methadone while in recovery usually do not feel the harsh, intense withdrawal symptoms one frequently has to deal with in regards to opioid withdrawal. This means they are more likely to have a successful recovery. Some of the benefits of using long-term methadone include the following:

  • Social functioning – People often find it easier to handle social situations while on methadone
  • Quality of life – Many people improve their quality of life while on the drug
  • Long term success – Most people have a better chance of long term recovery while using methadone
  • Less criminal behavior – Most people who use methadone under the care of a supervised medical professional tend to use it properly which means they don’t obtain it illegally

There are many other long term benefits of using the drug. If you would like more information about MMT programs it is best to contact an addiction treatment center.

Side Effects of Taking Methadone Long Term

There are several side effects associated with methadone. Some are temporary and fade away when a patient adjusts to their treatment. Some of these side effects include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Weight Changes
  • Anxiety

You should know these are only a few of the side effects regarding the use of methadone. You might experience other side effects, as well.  There are other symptoms a person might experience when they use methadone long term. Some of them include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Cognitive changes
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Respiratory and lung complication
  • Seizures
  • Bloody stools
  • Trouble breathing

Again, these are only a few of the symptoms a person might experience when using the drug. However, these symptoms can be dangerous, so if you have any of them it is recommended you contact a medical professional for guidance.

Ending Methadone Dependence

Withdrawing from methadone can be a long process because it stays in a person’s system longer than other opioids. Full sobriety from methadone can take a month or more. It’s important to remember that detoxification is necessary for methadone addiction recovery. This step should always be accomplished with help from a medical professional. There are also addiction treatment centers that offer medical help and specialize in methadone recovery.

If you are suffering from pain and are addicted to opioids there are pain injections, and holistic therapies as well as physical therapy options that can help you cope with the pain.

It can be hard to overcome an addiction, but it is possible. Methadone is often used to help people with their withdrawals from other types of opioid drugs. It is also used to treat people with severe pain. Generally it is a safe drug as long as it is taken properly. However, if you have a methadone addiction, the best thing to do is seek help from an addiction treatment program.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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