Methadone is a drug that you can’t quit cold turkey because it worsens withdrawal symptoms and makes it more difficult to stop using. You need to gradually decrease your dosage under the guidance of a healthcare professional. If you have developed a dependency or addiction to methadone, then you may need to go through a detox and rehab program.
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Dangers of Methadone
Although methadone is a prescription medication, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions in using it. An overdose is possible if you take too much. In 2017, a methadone overdose resulted in 3,194 deaths.
This drug can cause physiological dependence, even in people who stick to their prescribed dose. Abusing the substance increases the risk of an addiction developing. The law classifies methadone as a Schedule II drug, meaning that there’s a significant risk of abuse and the possibility of physiological dependence.
A warning sign that you’re developing an addiction is feeling like you need your methadone dose to feel normal. You may feel increasingly tempted to take more of the drug than you’re supposed to.
Symptoms of Methadone Withdrawal
When you go through a methadone detox, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Another scenario in which you may have these symptoms is becoming physiologically addicted. You may want to consult with your doctor if you are experiencing withdrawal or desire to take higher doses.
Mood-related methadone withdrawal symptoms include:
Physical methadone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
Dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance are additional health issues that you might experience from vomiting or diarrhea.
It could take two to four days for symptoms to start after you begin weaning yourself off of the medication. They will gradually dissipate over a period of 10 days. Withdrawal symptoms might be more intense if you suddenly stop taking the medication or if your addiction has lasted for a long time.
Although the worst of the symptoms are usually resolved within 10 days, it may take 3–6 weeks for the symptoms to entirely clear up. How long withdrawal lasts depends on how severe your addiction was. In rare cases, you may have lingering symptoms past six weeks.
Physical symptoms typically don’t last long. It’s the mood symptoms like anxiety, cravings, depression and irritability that may stick around for weeks. You should stay in counseling to reduce the urge to take methadone. Therapists have techniques that can help you stay strong through the mental health side of recovery. You’ll learn healthy coping mechanisms for the negative emotions that everyone experiences in life so that they don’t become overpowering and destructive.
If you have an addiction to more than one substance, then your withdrawal may be on the severe side and take longer. Detoxing may also be more complicated due to having more than one addictive substance to cleanse from your system.
Medications That Might Be Used During Your Detox
Detox centers sometimes give you medication to help ease symptoms of withdrawal. Common medications prescribed during a methadone detox are clonidine, bismuth subsalicylate, Benadryl and over-the-counter pain medications. Bismuth subsalicylate, better known as Pepto Bismol, is often given to help with diarrhea.
Some detox centers give you sedatives to quickly flush the opiates out of your body and assist in easing withdrawal symptoms. The process can take about four days to complete.
Long Island Interventions doesn’t directly offer detox programs, but we do recommend trusted affiliate providers. You can ask us if we know of a detox program that matches what you’re looking for. We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
What we offer is strategic interventions to encourage your loved one to overcome their addiction by enrolling in rehab. We also provide referrals to detox facilities, inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Contact us to learn more.
Why Addiction Treatment Is Necessary
Those who have developed an addiction to methadone need to go through an addiction treatment program after their detox. Addiction is a mental health issue that persists even after you have cleansed the drug from your system. Your brain will continue to give you signals to take the substance again until you retrain your brain to not rely on the drug.
Whether you need an inpatient or outpatient rehab depends on your situation. If your addiction is moderate to severe, then inpatient rehab is needed because you’ll stay within a safe environment that makes it virtually impossible to use drugs while you’re there. Outpatient rehab is for those with mild addiction and a healthy home environment. Many people worry about inpatient treatment because they fear losing their jobs. Federal law protects people who seek addiction treatment. You can’t be fired or prevented from taking time off to go through rehab.
Upon completion of a rehab program, you should go through aftercare to reduce the likelihood of a relapse. An aftercare plan may include regular checkups on how your life is going to know if you’ve started using methadone again. It can provide the extra support that you may need when you’re faced with an obstacle or a bad event as well. Stressful life situations can cause someone to relapse if they aren’t able to manage their emotions well.
If you don’t have a safe home environment to return to, some centers offer resources to help you leave an abusive situation and find a safer home. Sober home living is an option as well. Getting yourself out of the old environment is sometimes necessary to prevent a relapse. When you go back to the areas where you used to take the drug and hang out around the people who abuse the drug, then the chance of a relapse increases. Your brain has created associations between methadone and those places and people.
Some treatment centers offer routine Vivitrol injections to help you avoid a relapse. Vivitrol blocks the opiate receptors in your brain. If you choose this as part of your aftercare plan, you’ll receive an injection every 28 days or so.
Inpatient Rehab vs Outpatient Rehab
Most inpatient rehab programs last 28–90 days. Some take as long as six months for those who have the most severe addictions. People who have relapsed after trying a shorter program or an outpatient plan may decide to enroll in a longer inpatient program. You live at the facility in inpatient rehab. Outpatient rehab only requires you to visit the center for your treatment hours.
There are different types of outpatient programs to meet different needs: partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and standard outpatient. Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), also referred to as day treatment, are the most intensive forms of addiction treatment besides inpatient. You would spend four to seven hours a day, five days a week at the facility.
Intensive outpatient programs typically run for two to three hours a day, three days a week. If your addiction is mild and involves just methadone, then this may be a suitable choice for you.
Starting with a standard outpatient program might not be the best choice because meeting for one to two hours once or twice a week isn’t always enough to win over the rest of your week. You are constantly faced with life stressors on those other six days, and you are in the same environment where you used methadone.
Most people start with more intensive rehab and gradually drop down as their conditions improve. You may start with partial hospitalization, then transition to intensive outpatient, standard outpatient and finish with aftercare. This gives you a greater chance of staying sober after cleansing the drug out of your body.
Everyone has a unique situation, so feel free to discuss what method is best for you with a healthcare provider. They can assess your physical and mental health, life responsibilities, and home environment to determine what strategy would make the most sense.
No matter how long you’ve been addicted to methadone, it’s possible to overcome it. The sooner you take action, the better off you’ll be. Quitting methadone after you have become addicted to it requires the help of healthcare professionals. Drug addiction causes changes in your brain, which is why rehab is essential to work on restoring normal brain functioning.
How can i get emergency methadone?
If you are in need of emergency treatment for opioid dependence or withdrawal, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
You can go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center, where a healthcare provider can evaluate your condition and provide appropriate treatment, including methadone if necessary. It is also possible to contact local substance abuse treatment centers or clinics that offer methadone maintenance therapy for opioid dependence.
If you are unable to access emergency care or if you are in a remote location, you may be able to contact emergency services such as 911 for assistance.
It is important to remember that methadone should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider and in accordance with a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the underlying causes of opioid dependence. Self-medicating with methadone can be dangerous and can lead to serious side effects and health problems.
How long can you be on methadone?
The length of time that someone can be on methadone depends on their individual situation and needs. Methadone is a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid dependence, and it is often prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes behavioral therapy and other support services.
For many people, methadone maintenance therapy can be a long-term treatment, lasting several months or even years. However, the length of treatment can vary based on factors such as the individual’s response to the medication, the severity of their dependence, and any co-occurring mental health or substance use disorders.
It is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate length of methadone treatment for your individual needs. The goal of methadone maintenance therapy is to help individuals stabilize their lives and reduce their opioid use, and to support their transition to a life free from opioid dependence when appropriate.