Methadone: Facts, Reviews and Alternatives
Methadone was first created in Germany during World War II. The Germans were seeking an alternative to morphine, which was nearly impossible for them to acquire after the war began. German scientists managed to synthesize the first form of methadone in the late 1930s.
Early experiments that used methadone as a painkiller had mixed results. Soldiers were given extremely high doses and, as a result, suffered from some pretty severe side effects. They experienced nausea, sweating, respiratory problems, and euphoria. These soldiers also quickly developed a high tolerance to the drug. Eventually, experiments with methadone were abandoned entirely by the Germans.
After the war ended, the allied troops seized all of the patents and formulas for methadone from German laboratories. The drug was then brought over to the United States, where it was patented by Eli-Lilly under the brand name Dolophine. It was marketed as a safe, non-addictive pain relief medication.
After the war, another drug-related development occurred when a brand new heroin epidemic began to work its way through the major cities in the United States. As the problem worsened throughout the 1950s and 1960s, researchers began to experiment with methadone as a way to treat opioid addiction. In clinical trials, patient experienced major relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Methadone treatment remains at the forefront of opioid addiction recovery to this day.
According to Everyday Health, a drug review site, methadone has received mostly positive reviews, with an average rating of 7/10 across 150 individual reviews. These reviewers take methadone for a variety of treatments, including opioid replacement therapy and pain management due to back injury and fibromyalgia.
People taking methadone as a replacement therapy have had a positive experience, claiming that they feel like methadone has helped them stay out of prison. They have experienced long periods of abstinence from other opioid drugs. The ability to function normally without feeling any cravings or withdrawal symptoms is a common positive experience. Some have even said that they would not be alive today without methadone treatment.
Not all methadone reviews have been positive. Some patients taking methadone have noted feeling like they have been trapped by the drug, having to go back to the clinic every day for months or years. Some have noted uncomfortable side effects, such as excessive sweating, lethargy, and sluggishness. One person using methadone claimed that they were unable to participate in any lounging activity without falling asleep.
While methadone is the leading treatment for patients seeking to treat opioid addiction, there are other options available.
- A combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Effective in replacement therapy for opioids that have a short duration such as heroin. It comes in a variety of doses and has been shown to have fewer side effects than other alternatives. It is, however, less effective as a replacement for long-duration opioids.
- Naltrexone HCL. Naltrexone is similar to methadone in that it blocks the effects of other opioids in the brain. One of the drawbacks of naltrexone is that patients must stop using any opioids for at least seven days before beginning treatment -which could bring about an intense period of withdrawal.
- Non-medicinal Alternatives. Other options for people seeking to treat opioid addiction include clinical therapies, such as counseling and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Non-clinical options like acupuncture, meditation, massage and herbal therapy have been reported to be effective by some patients but are not backed by any scientific knowledge. Of course, everyone is different, and what might not work at all for one person may be highly effective for another.
There are many treatment options available for people seeking to overcome opioid dependence. The effectiveness of any given treatment depends on a variety of factors. Talking to your doctor or therapist about your options and creating a treatment plan specifically for you is the first step on the road to recovery.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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