The instant you begin treatment for opiate addiction, the staff at your methadone treatment center will collaborate to find a methadone dose that works best for you based on your tolerance level. Low doses can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms, while high doses can result in slowed speech and sleepiness, and increase the risk for hospitalization.
Dose management is an important part of recovery programs at methadone treatment centers, and plays a key role in helping you achieve lifelong sobriety from opiate addiction.
If you or someone you care about is trying to overcome opiate addiction, call our helpline at 800-530-0431 for assistance with finding methadone treatment centers in your area. Our addiction counselors will offer you the guidance and resources you need to become healthier, happier, and sober for life.
Here’s a close look at how dose management works at most methadone treatment centers.
Starting Methadone Treatment
When you first begin methadone treatment, your doctor may prescribe a methadone dose of between 15 mg and 30 mg per day. The effects methadone will have on your body will vary depending on your individual tolerance level, and on the types of other drugs that are already in your system.
Though you’ll be administered methadone right away, you might not feel the medication’s full effects for a few days, since methadone is a slow-acting drug. Fortunately, opiate withdrawal symptoms usually don’t show up for a few days, meaning by the time you start feeling the effects of methadone, the medication will already be working on reducing your opiate cravings and minimizing withdrawal symptoms.
Stabilizing Your Methadone Dose
During the first several weeks of treatment, your physician will adjust your methadone dose accordingly based on your withdrawal symptoms, and on how the dose amount affects your body. Throughout this time period, which usually takes between two and six weeks, you might experience opiate cravings or feel drowsy until your dose is stabilized. If you’re receiving treatment from an outpatient program, avoid operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle, due to the drowsy effects of methadone.
After your doctor finds the correct dose amount and your methadone dose is stabilized, it’s important that you take your prescribed amount of methadone at the same time every day. This helps maintain the stability of methadone in your body, and prevents you from experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Taking Split Doses
Some individuals metabolize methadone more quickly than others, meaning they’re at higher risk for experiencing withdrawal symptoms before taking their next dose. If you start feeling withdrawal symptoms before your next dose, you might be an ideal candidate for split doses.
A split dose is when you take two half-doses of methadone 12 hours apart, instead of just one dose once per day. This approach can help minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings without increasing your tolerance level or daily dose of methadone.
If you feel that a split dose might benefit you more than taking one full dose of methadone, mention your concerns to your doctor. Your doctor can run tests as needed to determine whether split doses are ideal for you.
Avoiding Methadone Overdose
To stay as healthy and as safe as possible throughout the course of treatment, only take methadone as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t skip doses, and don’t combine doses, since doing so can increase your risk for an overdose and lead to serious health complications, including death.
Don’t mix methadone with alcohol, other opioids, or other prescription drugs, unless approved by your doctor. Combining drugs of any kind with methadone can interfere with the drug’s effects on your body, and prolong the amount of time it takes for your body to stabilize on methadone.
Inform your doctor immediately if you’ve taken any other drugs while on methadone. This can help save your life, and help you avoid negative health consequences. Communicating with your doctor is important, and could mean life or death in many scenarios.
Methadone treatment centers are devoted to helping you overcome addiction so you can get back to living a normal, healthy life free of opiates. If you feel nervous or scared about the idea of taking methadone to overcome opiate addiction, call our helpline at 800-530-0431 to learn more about methadone treatment, and other treatment options. Our addiction counselors are standing by 24/7 to provide you with all the answers you need to embark on the path to lifelong sobriety and good health.