As a drug treatment for heroin and opioid addictions, methadone offers relief from the withdrawal symptoms people experience when detoxing. Methadone maintenance therapies also offer a way for recovering addicts to maintain abstinence from these drugs on a long-term basis. In essence, methadone is a synthetic opiate drug that’s not as addictive as heroin or other opioid-type drugs. When a person has methadone in their system, opiate cravings diminish and so do the withdrawal symptoms.
While effective as a treatment approach, recovering addicts still remain dependent on opiate effects for as long as they keep receiving methadone treatment, according to a University of Maryland report. Though the potential for methadone addiction is considerably lower than with other opiates, this potential increases the longer a person keeps receiving methadone treatment.x
As with any opiate addiction, a person’s tolerance level for methadone gradually increases over time. Likewise, stopping methadone treatment will bring on withdrawal effects much like those experienced with a heroin addiction. While methadone withdrawal symptoms are somewhat milder than those caused by heroin, recovering addicts still have a difficult time maintaining abstinence from methadone, as well as from opiate drugs in general. Not surprisingly, methadone rehab centers treat methadone withdrawal symptoms in much the same way as heroin or opiate withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone Detox Treatment
As any recovering opiate addict well knows, the potential for relapse when going through a detox phase is considerably high. As the body flushes out opiate materials, it also must adjust to functioning without the effects of the drug. This process can be a shock to the system, causing overwhelming cravings that lead to relapse. Likewise, methadone withdrawal symptoms can be difficult, if not impossible to overcome.
Detox programs offer medication treatments to help alleviate methadone withdrawal symptoms within a controlled treatment environment. Recovering addicts also receive necessary counseling and therapy to help deal with issues that drive the addiction.
Methadone withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from one-and-half to two weeks depending on the severity of the addiction. During this time, a person may experience any number of methadone withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Body aches
At the start of a detox period, inpatient treatment centers offer the type of care a person needs to overcome methadone withdrawal symptoms. These programs offer medical treatment in the form of medication to treat specific symptoms while also treating any conditions caused by a methadone addiction. For some people, underlying depression and/or anxiety disorders may play an active role in driving a person’s addiction as well as aggravating his or her methadone withdrawal symptoms. In this case, a person may be prescribed medications to treat underlying psychological problems, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety agents.
Outpatient programs offer another treatment option for treating methadone withdrawal symptoms. While similar to inpatient care, outpatient programs arrange treatment on a pre-scheduled basis as opposed to the live-in treatment environment provided by inpatient programs. Not unlike any other type of drug treatment program, participants are encouraged to continue on in a 12-step program for ongoing guidance and recovery supports.