How to Help a Methadone Addict
Help for Methadone Addicts
Methadone is an opioid drug; however, it is beneficial in the treatment of heroin dependence and other forms of opiate abuse. While it is regularly used in the management of opioid dependence, methadone itself is potentially addictive. For the treatment of opioid dependence, methadone may be prescribed and administered through licensed treatment centers. For the treatment of pain, methadone (Dolophine) may be prescribed by office-based physicians (Julien et al., 2011).
Methadone is a long-acting drug—staying in the system for an average of 22 hours—which means it can be administered once a day. Taking more than recommended or otherwise using it recreationally can promote the development of addiction and usher in a host of severe negative effects. As with other opioid drugs, methadone abuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and even death.
Treatment for methadone dependence is an option for anyone finding they are unable to control their use of methadone.
Approaching a Loved One Who Is Addicted to Methadone
A person who is dealing with a methadone addiction is likely experiencing intense emotional and physical challenges. It is important to be supportive and non-judgmental.
One helpful approach when talking to addicted individuals is called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), in which a professional trains the addict’s family on the best ways to address the problem.
CRAFT instructs you on how to persuade the addicted individual to get treatment in a helpful and productive way. If you need help or resources on how to start the conversation, read more here.
Methadone Addiction Treatment
Because methadone is so addictive, it can be hard to quit using on your own. As a result, addiction treatment recognizes that you may need a helping hand and good guidance to recovery from what is itself a recovery medication.
If methadone use is abruptly stopped, your body will need time to recover. You will likely go through a period of methadone withdrawal, which can produce a range of symptoms that may include:
- Trouble sleeping.
- Muscle pains.
- Stomach cramping.
To minimize the sudden onset of these acute opioid withdrawal symptoms, the current dose of methadone you’re on will first be gradually reduced, step-by-step. This process is referred to as tapering, and it works by letting your body adapt to decreasing amounts of methadone in your system until it is free of the drug completely. While withdrawal from methadone can be uncomfortable, it is not life-threatening. Your treatment may include medications to help manage your withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.
Once your body is clear of methadone, you can begin addiction treatment in earnest. This may include therapy (group and individual), education about drug abuse, learning relapse prevention skills, and the creation of a plan for aftercare.
Addiction treatment can take place on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Inpatient treatment offers an environment with round-the-clock care, supervision, and support, while outpatient treatment affords you the flexibility to receive treatment while managing your daily responsibilities.
How Addictive Is Methadone?
Methadone is an opiate and, like many drugs in this class, its use carries significant, inherent risk for abuse and addiction development.
Because methadone is a longer-acting, relatively less potent opiate, it’s unable to elicit quite as intense an effect profile as that of heroin and other shorter-acting, more potent opioid receptor agonist substances—in other words, methadone use shouldn’t result in rapid-onset highs and intolerable, crashing lows. Still, if you abuse methadone by taking it in doses that exceed those prescribed as part of the maintenance schedule, you’ll subject yourself to heightened and potentially dangerous effects. Additionally, you increase your chances of experiencing more intense withdrawal symptoms in between scheduled dosing, or should you stop altogether.
Methadone is a valuable addiction treatment pharmaceutical. When it is taken as prescribed, and under proper supervision, methadone’s potential to cause an addictive euphoric rush, negative side effects, and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms is minimized.
What Are the Signs of Methadone Addiction?
One of the key signs of abuse and addiction to methadone is withdrawal, which can involve severe symptoms. These can include:
They can also include depression and possibly mania. This can happen around 24 to 48 hours after stopping use of the drug.
You’ll also likely notice that you feel anxious at the thought of stopping using the drug, and you may find yourself hoarding methadone to use in high doses in an attempt to get high.
Am I Addicted to Methadone?
If you keep taking the drug regardless of its negative effects on your life, you need immediate help as you may be addicted to methadone.
Other signs of addiction to methadone include:
- Visiting multiple doctors to obtain more methadone.
- Obtaining the drug from alternate sources.
- Neglecting financial or personal responsibilities in order to use.
- Using methadone in combination with other drugs.
- Taking methadone via other methods, such as by injecting it.
If any of these signs sound familiar, you likely need help, and there’s no reason why you cannot seek help to get well. While recovery is a lifelong process, the longer you stay clean, the easier it is to remain clean.
Find Addiction Treatment Programs
Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. To find an addiction treatment center near you, visit our treatment directory. If you’re ready to get clean from methadone addiction, give us a call today free at for more information.
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