The use of methadone for the treatment of heroin addiction or other opiate dependency problems has been relative to the treatment industry since the mid-1940s. Methadone is not very closely related to most of the other opiates or opioids on the market such as morphine but it does mimic the effects of such drugs which allows it to help patients reduce their cravings, eliminate physical withdrawal symptoms and control their addiction in a way that allows them to live better lives. As with any medication, methadone has risks and benefits even when it is used as prescribed by a doctor.
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When methadone is taken as a maintenance treatment to control heroin or opiate addiction, there are inherent risks involved. Methadone is a highly addictive substance that can lead to physical dependence which requires additional counseling, therapy and medical treatment to overcome. Even when methadone is taken directly as prescribed by a doctor it can lead to physical dependence and when use of the drug abruptly stops, there is a risk of withdrawals.
Withdrawal from methadone is much like the withdrawals from other drugs. The most common symptoms are:
- Clammy skin
- Bone pain
These symptoms are usually at their peak about 3-5 days following the last dose of methadone and will peak around days 7-10. Most of the time, methadone withdrawal only lasts about 10 days but may persist for around 2 weeks depending on how long the drug was taken as well as various other factors related to each individual situation.
For a heroin or opiate addict, the primary benefit to taking methadone is that this drug is controlled, it does not cause the severe cravings that heroin causes and you can get your life back in control. Patients who take methadone report being able to get back on track with normal routines and daily procedures in life once they find a comfort zone in their methadone maintenance treatment and in time, these same patients are able to wean off of the drug to live completely sober lives.
It may seem like a far shot, to even think about life without heroin or without prescription opiates right now but after a few weeks of taking methadone, you will likely forget all about the other drugs. Methadone also reduces the risk of using intravenous drugs by controlling the cravings which means that patients who take methadone to maintain a past heroin dependency problem are more than 60% less likely to abuse intravenous or injectable drugs again.