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Signs and Symptoms of Methadone Addiction

Updated content 1/17/2020

Misusing methadone for pleasure often leads to Methadone Addiction. Methadone is a long-acting, synthetic opioid that is medically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. It is classed by the federal government as a Schedule II drug, similar to other prescription opioids including morphine and hydrocodone.

These and other opioids continue to contribute to the opioid crisis in the US and were responsible for 35% of the overdose deaths in 2017. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), methadone was one of the three most common prescription opioids linked to overdose deaths in 2017. The other two drugs were oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Some detox rehabs also use methadone to help patients wean off heroin or prescription opioids. Some individuals such as those who abuse heroin or other opiates use methadone as an alternative drug because of its ability to delay withdrawal symptoms for 1-3 days. However, this may increase their dependency on opioids or worsen their addiction. It is critical for a medical professional to closely monitor clients under medically assisted detox.

Getting professional treatment for you or your loved one who is addicted to methadone is important to avoid the risks to health and life. Treatment can be done outpatient or at a residential facility such as 310 Recovery where a range of programs are designed to help you conquer drug addiction.

Addiction to Methadone

People who are addicted to methadone are said to have a methadone use disorder which affects the brain and distorts thinking. It causes them to compulsively seek and use the drug in spite of the harmful effects on their physical and mental health, personal life, or career.

The reason for this is prescription opioids such as methadone provide pain relief by creating a relaxed, feel-good sensation. This euphoric effect is triggered when the drug acts on the natural opioid receptors in the brain causing a release of dopamine also known as the “pleasure hormone.”

Although it is not as potent or addictive as opioids such as fentanyl or oxycodone, methadone builds up and stays in the bloodstream longer increases the risk of addiction. Frequent and long-term use or abuse of methadone can cause you to develop a tolerance for the drug. You’ll then need larger doses to get the desired euphoric effect. The risk of addiction also increases and can be potentially fatal when this opioid is used together with other drugs or alcohol.

Symptoms of Methadone Addiction

Someone who is addicted to methadone will develop certain physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms. They may include:

  • Increase in tolerance, e.g., taking larger doses
  • Illicit use, e.g., crushing the tablets for snorting or intravenous use
  • Stealing the drug from family or friends
  • Illegally purchasing the drug
  • Drowsiness, sleepiness, or confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms. e.g., nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Forgetfulness or memory lapse
  • Social withdrawal
  • Foregoing work or family responsibilities

Methadone Addiction Treatment

Professional drug treatment involving detox and mental health therapy is usually required for anyone who wishes to successfully recover from their addiction to methadone. Unlike trying to haphazardly quit “cold turkey,” treatment at rehab can help you to safely withdraw stage by stage. Gradually weaning you off the substance while providing medication to ease the symptoms help to make the process more tolerable and the chance for recovery greater.

Detoxification for Addiction to Methadone

The active part of drug addiction treatment begins with detox to rid the body of the substance and built up toxins. Medically-assisted treatment (MAT) may be necessary depending on the severity of the addiction. MAT is typically done at an inpatient rehab where physicians and mental health professionals will monitor you around the clock during detox and withdrawal.

Medication will be administered to help reduce the effects of physical, mental, emotional, and psychological symptoms. More specifically, replacement opioids such as buprenorphine and Levo-Alpha Acetyl Methadol (LAAM) may be administered to block or reduce the effects of opiate withdrawal symptoms. This makes it easier for you to wean off and lose cravings for methadone. Other medications, e.g., anti-depressants, may be prescribed to treat symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone causes flu-like withdrawal symptoms which are similar to symptoms experienced by those withdrawing from other opioids. Symptoms may take 1-3 days to set in. They are also not as dangerous or life-threatening such as those related to heroin or fentanyl addiction but are reportedly more severe. This can make kicking the habit quite challenging for those struggling with methadone abuse. Common symptoms are:

  • Fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Therapy for Addiction to Methadone

Drug addiction is often associated with co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia that cause a person to abuse drugs as a means of coping. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the second core phase of addiction treatment, is designed to treat such co-occurring disorders. It is incorporated into the treatment plan and focuses on correcting distorted thinking and unhealthy thought patterns that make you think that abusing drugs is a good way to cope.

The end goal of CBT is to help you modify your behaviors to support abstinence from drug use. Studies show that treatment for drug addiction is most effective when therapy is done immediately after the patient is stabilized. Skipping this stage significantly increases the risk of relapse into a new cycle of drug abuse. Therapy is typically combined with auxiliary treatment approaches including these:

  • Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT)
  • Holistic therapy (sports, yoga, meditation)
  • Group therapy
  • Occupational skill training
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Involvement in community sober groups, e.g., Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

310 Recovery Inpatient And Outpatient Treatment Programs

Despite methadone abuse and addiction is difficult to kick, you can get through the process of withdrawal and recovery in the safe and secure residential environment provided by 310 Recovery. Our facility, nestled in Culver City CA, provides all the accommodations necessary to make you feel at home while you go through detox and therapy. Outpatient treatment is also available for those whose needs can be effectively met without 24-hour inpatient supervision.

Our medical and mental health staff are highly trained and experienced in providing the support and tools needed to improve your chances of successful recovery and sustained abstinence. Give us a call today to find out more about our programs and admission.

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