The journey you take when undergoing methadone treatment can be long and arduous — especially at the beginning. Not only will you go through detox to remove heroin, morphine, or other opiates from your body, but you’ll be working closely with medical staff to find the right methadone dose. During this phase, your health and safety is of great importance, since the withdrawal symptoms you’ll face may be intense and highly uncomfortable.
If you’re staying at an inpatient addiction treatment facility, you’ll have 24/7 access to medical staff who will closely monitor your progress and health when you first start taking methadone.
If you’re receiving outpatient care from a methadone treatment program, it’s crucial that you know how to use methadone safely so you can experience a successful recovery, and lower the risk for relapse and complications.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate dependency and have questions about how methadone can help, call our toll-free helpline at 800-530-0431. Our addiction counselors will provide you with resources and information about methadone, and help you find a methadone treatment program in your area.
Here are 6 methadone safety tips for patients undergoing methadone treatment for addiction.
1. Take Methadone Exactly As Prescribed
At the time you begin treatment, your physician will speak with you about the importance of taking methadone exactly as prescribed. Methadone is a slow-acting drug, and often takes a few days to produce noticeable effects. This means that if you skip doses, or double up on missed doses, you run the risk of an overdose.
Take methadone at the same time every day, and adhere to the medication’s instructions. For instance, don’t combine methadone with other drugs, medications, or supplements, unless approved by your doctor.
2. Be Open About Your Health History
Methadone can be dangerous when combined with certain other substances such as alcohol, sleep aids, and some antidepressants. At the time you meet with your methadone doctor, be completely open and honest about your health history. This helps your doctor determine whether you’re at risk for experiencing complications, hospitalization, or death after you start taking methadone.
Your methadone doctor may ask about other drugs or medications you’re currently taking, and about whether you suffer from breathing disorders, seizure disorders, or heart conditions. The more thorough you are with providing medical staff your full health history, the better your treatment and recovery will go.
3. Avoid Driving or Operating Heavy Machinery
Until your body becomes stabilized on methadone, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. Just like many other medications, methadone can make you feel drowsy, and slow your thinking and reaction time. In most cases, it takes anywhere between two and six weeks for you to start feeling “normal” when taking methadone.
4. Don’t Share Methadone
Don’t share or give away methadone to anyone else, especially other recovering addicts trying to overcome opiate dependency. Methadone doses are tailored specifically to each patient, and affect everyone differently based on their individual metabolisms and tolerance levels. Methadone doses that work for you may be too high for someone else, and result in overdose, hospitalization, or death.
5. Monitor Side Effects
Throughout the course of treatment, stay in close communication with medical staff and inform them right away if you experience adverse side effects from methadone. In some cases, your methadone dose may need to be decreased or increased accordingly, based on your symptoms. For example, notify your methadone doctor immediately if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing within the first 24 to 72 hours of taking methadone for the first time.
6. Avoid Sudden Discontinuation of Methadone
Since methadone is an opioid itself, stopping methadone use abruptly can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Avoid sudden discontinuation of methadone at all costs. Instead, work with your methadone doctor on tapering your dose until you can safely stop taking methadone.
The safer you are throughout methadone treatment, the more successful you’ll be at overcoming opiate dependency, and conquering your addiction. The medical staff at methadone treatment centers will work closely with you to ensure your recovery is safe, healthy, and fulfilling. Don’t hesitate to seek treatment for your addiction for fear of facing problems with methadone treatment.
Do you have questions about how methadone treatment can help you overcome drug dependency? Call our toll-free helpline at 800-530-0431 to speak with a caring, understanding addiction counselor about methadone treatment programs in your area. Your privacy is guaranteed, and you’re under no commitment to join a program. Your health and safety is our top concern.