Methadone Hydrochloride Withdrawal And Detox

Methadone hydrochloride is a prescription drug that acts on the brain and body, similar to other opioids. However, it’s longer-acting. Methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance. It’s only available by prescription. Methadone can be used to treat pain, but more commonly, it’s used as part of an addiction treatment program for people addicted to narcotic painkillers or heroin. Methadone is available as a tablet, an oral solution and an injectable solution. Much like other opioids, methadone changes how the brain and central nervous system respond to pain. Unlike some more powerful opioids, the effects of methadone are slower, and it can block the high of drugs like oxycodone and heroin. Despite the fact that methadone can be used during addiction treatment, it has the risk of misuse, addiction and dependence associated with its use as well. It is somewhat controversial in addiction treatment because it’s seen as a replacement drug for opioid dependence, rather than an actual treatment. Methadone can initially help prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms, but then over time, the patient can become dependent on the methadone itself. Methadone dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Yawning
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
The higher the dose someone takes of methadone hydrochloride, the more likely they are to experience withdrawal symptoms. For people who use methadone heavily or long-term patients of methadone, withdrawal symptoms can be very similar to other opioids. The initial symptoms of methadone hydrochloride withdrawal usually start within 24 hours after the patient’s last dose. However, since methadone is a long-acting opioid, it can take up to 60 hours or more for withdrawal symptoms to start.

The initial week to ten days after someone uses their last dose of methadone hydrochloride is when they’re likely to experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Methadone hydrochloride withdrawal symptoms can physically feel like the flu. Psychological symptoms can include anxiety and depression. Within a few weeks, most symptoms will subside, but some people may experience ongoing symptoms of withdrawal for months. One symptom that may last for more than three weeks is depression, and some people may also have problems experiencing pleasure or feelings of motivation. When someone experiences longer-term withdrawal symptoms, it’s called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. PAWS isn’t extremely common in people going through methadone withdrawal, but there is a slight possibility it can occur. PAWS can include not only depression but suicide ideation, anxiety and repeated panic attacks.

To manage symptoms of methadone hydrochloride withdrawal, medical help is almost always necessary. If someone is dependent on methadone hydrochloride, this likely means they have a long history of opioid dependence. This drug was likely prescribed to them to treat an addiction to another opioid, and someone who’s a long-term, chronic opioid patient is going to require medical attention during methadone withdrawal. Even if someone became dependent on methadone because it was prescribed as a pain reliever, managing symptoms is typically going to require professional medical treatment. Most medical methadone hydrochloride detox programs will include a tapering plan, so that the patient can gradually lower their use of the drug over time, rather than stopping suddenly.
The concept of methadone hydrochloride medications is a challenge because the methadone is in and of itself meant as a detox medication. One drug that might be used during a methadone hydrochloride detox is buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is another medication-assisted treatment used for opioid dependence, and it tends to have fewer effects than methadone. Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist/antagonist, and it blocks the effects of other narcotics and reduces withdrawal symptoms. One of the MAT options with the fewest risks is naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, and it’s not addictive, but it blocks the effects of other narcotics.
For someone dependent on methadone hydrochloride, there are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a detox center. First, it’s important to choose a methadone detox center that understands the specific elements of opioid addiction and dependence. It’s also key to choose a facility that can treat symptoms using not only approved MAT options but can also treat other symptoms as they occur, such as depression and anxiety. The best option for most people is a detox center that’s part of an addiction treatment facility. This way, the patient can get to know the center and the staff as they detox, and when they’re ready, they can move into addiction treatment. There will be less upheaval, and the transition will be easier for them.

To learn more about detox and addiction treatment, contact The Recovery Village today.

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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