Is Methadone Treatment Easily Reversed?
When someone is being treated with methadone maintenance for opioid addiction, the program usually lasts at least a year so that the individual can become stabilized on the medication and in their life. It can last longer than this, of course, but when the patient is ready to end their methadone treatment, it is can potentially be easily reversed because the individual merely needs to go through medically assisted withdrawal.
How Does Medically Assisted Withdrawal from Methadone Work?
A person can be on methadone maintenance for a year or even several years before they decide they are ready to stop. Some people stay on the drug for an indefinite amount of time until they decide they are ready to function without it. This decision must be supported and supervised by a doctor. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Even if a patient feels that they are ready to stop methadone treatment, it must be stopped gradually to prevent withdrawal.”
At this stage of treatment, the individual’s dosages are slowly lowered so their body can become used to the absence of methadone in their system. A person must NEVER lower their dosage on their own but must instead discuss this change with their doctor and receive an updated dosage amount that slowly lowers as they require less and less of the drug. This will minimize the withdrawal symptoms the person would be likely to encounter as well as reduce the chance of relapse and other issues. A person should never stop taking methadone suddenly because they could experience severe side effects, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms.
Is This Process Easy?
Yes. Although it may be difficult to adjust to the changing dosages of methadone and the idea of no longer taking the medication, it is easy for doctors to reduce their patient’s dosage over time and help the individual transition into no longer taking the medication. Methadone also does not cause any serious side effects when taken over a long period of time, so the individual will only need to be concerned with the minimizing dosages and making sure they do not experience severe withdrawal symptoms as a result.
What If I Want to Take Another Medication?
One can also move from methadone treatment to buprenorphine fairly easily. According to SAMHSA, “Patients interested in learning more about switching their treatment should discuss this with their doctor.” It is important to note, however, that while an individual can switch to buprenorphine from methadone, the former drug is not always as effective as optimal-dose methadone when taken by individuals with extremely high dependencies on opioids.
Reversing Methadone Treatment
When you are ready to end your methadone treatment––and move on to a different phase in your recovery––it is normally a very easy process. It is very important, however, that you do not make this change without discussing it with your doctor and creating a new treatment plan with them. Call 800-530-0431Who Answers? to learn more about methadone or to find maintenance centers in your area.