Methadone, although used to help patients get through opiate withdrawal symptoms, is an opiate drug itself. Just because methadone helps with opiate withdrawals, does not mean that a person cannot develop an addiction to methadone, or that they will not go through withdrawal once they stop using the drug.
Methadone Abuse and Dependency
Methadone is an opiate drug that is typically given to patients in heroin detox to help ease withdrawal symptoms. However, methadone is a drug that people can also abuse and develop addictions to. Methadone is a slow releasing opiate drug, meaning that it will not cause the initial ‘rush’ people get when they abuse other opiates, such as heroin.
People who abuse methadone risk the chance of developing an addiction to the drug or a dependency to the drug, and even people who take the drug as prescribed in a methadone clinic have the chance of developing an addiction to the drug, although it is not common. However, it is a little more common for a person to become dependent on methadone when they are detoxing from another opiate, being that they will be taking methadone to help them get through withdrawals, and their body may become used to methadone being in it.
According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, physical and psychological dependence can develop with the use of methadone. For example, use of the drug will continue a user’s opioid dependency, but frees them from uncontrolled, compulsive, and disruptive behavior associated with heroin addiction.
Why Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms May Develop
If a person is taking methadone illegally then they risk the chance of developing a dependency to the drug if they take the drug frequently. Methadone is an opiate, and when a person continually takes the drug, their body will begin to depend on the drug being present, and when it is not, they will go through withdrawal symptoms.
On the other hand, if a person is taking methadone legally to help them get through an opiate detox, they still may go through some withdrawals when they stop using the drug. This may seem unfair since a person is taking methadone to stop opiate withdrawals, but methadone only helps to lessen withdrawals, a person will still go through some withdrawals, especially when their dose of methadone begins to lower.
Compared to heroin, or compared to other prescription painkillers, methadone withdrawals are typically not as intense or painful, especially when a person is having methadone withdrawals due to the drug being lessened from a methadone clinic. All in all, a person can go through methadone withdrawal, even if they are in a methadone maintenance clinic, but the withdrawals will not be as intense as the withdrawals would be from their detox of another opiate drug.