Effects of Methadone

Treating opiate substance misuse usually requires the replacement of one opiate with another. The long-term goal of this protocol is to break an individual’s intense drive for their substance of choice which can often lead to solicitation of illicit narcotics. For many people looking to break a dependence to opiates, an alternative often recommended by their physician is treatment with Methadone.

Methadone (available in pill, wafer or liquid form) is a synthetic analgesic drug in the opioid family. It is commonly prescribed to block the euphoric effects and reduce withdrawal symptoms for people working to break a dependence to narcotics such as heroin, codeine and morphine. It is the prescribed drug of choice for physicians in the treatment of opiate substance misuse as it is readily available and is lower in cost to the patient than other drugs.

What is Methadone Prescribed For? | Effects of Methadone
For many years, Methadone has been prescribed for two primary medical reasons: pain management or for relief from opioid dependency.

For people who are actively using heroin or other narcotic pain medicines and looking to stop, Methadone treatment will follow one of two courses: opioid detoxification or Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT).

The prescribing of Methadone for treating a substance use disorder is different than that chosen for somebody seeking help with pain management because the analgesic (anti-pain) effect of Methadone lasts roughly six hours while the opioid-blocking effect typically lasts for twenty-four or more hours. This means that, for those seeking pain management, four doses per day of Methadone is the average while for individuals in a recovery program, once-daily dosing is the norm.

In either case, Methadone treatment is considered safe and effective when taken as prescribed, more so when it is used as part of an MMT plan of action.

The effects of Methadone are similar to those of morphine, though these effects are longer acting, and they do not produce the same type of high to the patient as seen with heroin or other opiates.

Methadone medication treatment has well-publicized unpleasant side effects, sometimes lasting up to 24 hours. The most commonly reported undesirable side effects of Methadone treatment include sedation and overall lethargy, while the less common include breathing difficulty, hives or rashes, chest pain, hallucinations or confusion. However, there are also positive effects of Methadone medication that can greatly outweigh the negative. Most importantly, Methadone provides relief from withdrawal symptoms. This alone can help those involved with illicit substance addiction as they work towards becoming substance-free. However, while Methadone can be prescribed as a quick means towards opioid detoxification, most physicians prescribe Methadone as part of an MMT program. In a methadone maintenance therapy program, a patient’s health is assessed, the patient is correctly dosed for Methadone use, and then their health is closely monitored by their physician. Additionally, mental health support is put in place to provide additional positive reinforcement and assist with coping skills during this process.

As patients embark on their new path to recovery, they find they can regain control of their lives. Daily activities like sleeping, eating, holding down a job and maintaining contact with others becomes normal again. Responsibilities are manageable and the process of rebuilding their lives continues to get easier and they can see a successful recovery in their future.

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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