Methadone Addiction: Many opiate addicts turn to methadone with the best intentions. At times it is a last ditch effort to get clean. The sad reality is methadone is simply replacing one addiction for another. Many addicts end up staying on methadone for prolonged periods of time or begin taking it with other drugs. This doesnít have to be the way of life for a recovering opiate addict. It is possible to be free from all addictive substances. At Summer House, medication is dispensed in a slow, gradual method until the patient is freed of their methadone addiction.
Signs of Withdrawal: Methadone withdrawal is just as horrific, if not more so, than opiate withdrawal. This is because methadone is slower and longer acting in its effects on the brain. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, body aches, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, tremors, and irritability. Many continue with methadone maintenance for fear of the withdrawal that will occur when they stop.
The Solution: While an addictís intentions may have been good when deciding to begin a methadone program, most feel discouraged from the cross addiction that takes place when replacing opiates with methadone. No addict wishing to seek freedom from addiction should be forced to continue living on a methadone maintenance program. Itís simply exchanging one addiction for another. There is a way out. Summer House provides a thorough and successful detoxification process giving methadone users freedom to reclaim their lives.
Q.) What is the history of methadone?
A.) Methadone is a synthetic opioid receptor agonist that was developed more than 50 years ago. The circumstances surrounding its development have been, and perhaps still are, associated with an interesting myth. Methadone was said to have been developed in response to an order by Hitler to develop an alternative to morphine, which was in short supply at the end of World War II. The trade name Dolophine was said to have been derived from Hitler’s first name Adolph. The truth is that methadone was discovered at I.G. Farbendustrie at Hoechst-am-Main in Germany, in the course of work on spasmolytic compounds during World War II. Because it lacked any resemblance to known compounds, its narcotic analgesic properties were not expected. Despite the morphine shortage, methadone was not used as an analgesic until the post-war period. It is believed that Germany’s failure to realize methadone’s value as an analgesic was because initial doses were too high and intolerable opioid side effects resulted. Concerning nomenclature, the more likely etymology is that Dolophine was derived from dolor for pain and fin for end.
Q.) How is methadone used?
A.) Methadone is usually available as a liquid - linctus or methadone mixture - which is swallowed. Tablets and injectable ampules are sometimes prescribed. Like many other medicines some of these prescribed drugs are diverted and become available illegally.
Q.) What are the effects of methadone?
A.) Methadone's effects are less powerful than heroin. However, Methadone offers a similar, less intense, absence of pain combined with euphoric qualities. The combined methadone effects are a sense of well being, feeling warm, content, drowsy, and untroubled. Physically, the pupils of the eye become smaller, body temperature drops, and blood pressure and pulse slow down. Methadone may also affect a persons ability to drive a car or operate heavy machinery.
Research has demonstrated that when methadone is given in regular doses by a physician, it has the ability to block the euphoria caused by heroin if the individual does try to take heroin. Despite methadone's role in the treatment of heroin addiction, it has addictive properties and also a high potential for abuse on the street.
Q.) What are the side effects of methadone?
A.) Patients on methadone maintenance report a wide range of methadone effects. A long list of methadone's effects has be compiled and is presented below. Some of these methadone effects are easily mistaken as withdrawal symptoms or as other medical conditions.
Methadone side effects include but are not limited to:
* dry mouth
* urinary retention
* slow or troubled breathing
Methadone side effects that are more rare include but are not limited to:
* allergic reactions
* skin rash
* impaired concentration
* sensation of drunkenness
* blurred or double vision
* facial flushing
* heart palpitation
Methadone side effects that are more uncommon include but are not limited to:
* anaphylactic reactions
* hypertension causing weakness and fainting
* unstable gait
* muscle twitching
* myasthenia gravis
* kidney failure
Q.) Is methadone addictive?
A.) Many people go from being addicted to heroin to acquiring a methadone addiction. They continue with this "treatment" for years, fearing the withdrawal that will occur when they stop. Methadone does not have to be the way of life for former heroin addicts. Gradual cessation followed by a drug-free program of rehabilitation may be the answer for many sufferers.
Addiction to methadone can take several forms:
* conning a doctor into prescribing a higher dosage than is required
* taking more than the recommended dosage
* taking methadone in combination with other drugs, including alcohol
* using methadone as a 'top up' drug while continuing to take heroin
* selling prescribed methadone in order to buy heroin
Q.) What are the symptoms of methadone withdrawal?
A.) Many former heroin users have claimed that the horrors of heroin withdrawal were far less painful and difficult than withdrawal from methadone.
Methadone withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
* tearing of eyes
* runny nose
* excessive perspiration
* dilated pupils
* abdominal cramps
* body aches
After several days of stabilizing a patient with methadone, the amount can be gradually decreased. The rate at which it is decreased is dependent on the reaction of the individual . . . keeping Methadone Withdrawal symptoms at a tolerable level is the goal.
Q.) What are the symptoms of an overdose of methadone?
A.) A methadone overdose is a serious medical emergency. In the event of suspected overdose call an ambulance. If the person is losing consciousness lie them on their side in the recovery position so that they will not choke if they vomit. Inducing people to vomit is not recommended because of the risk of rapid onset of CNS depression/unconsciousness which could lead to choking.
Symptoms of an overdose from methadone include but are not limited to the following:
* muscle spasticity
* difficulty breathing
* slow, shallow and labored breathing
* stopped breathing (sometimes fatal within 2-4 hours)
* pinpoint pupils
* bluish skin
* bluish fingernails and lips
* spasms of the stomach and/or intestinal tract
* weak pulse
* low blood pressure
Q.) Why was methadone maintenance treatment created?
A.) When methadone treatment originated it was to be a 20 day process to help ease the pain of withdrawal from opiate addiction. Today methadone treatment facilities are run based on their financial success. They base their success on profit from their customers. Think about it this way, if a methadone treatment center is licensed to treat 200 individuals and they are currently only treating 199, you are not going to get off methadone. This is due to the fact that they need you as a customer. Their twisted outlook on helping fight the battle of drug addiction is atrocious. How can one possibly conceive that the trading of opiate addiction for methadone addiction is a step in the right direction. Methadone treatment clinics claim that they help in reducing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis due to the fact that their customers receive their "treatment" orally. This is a very naive philosophy, having done an extended amount of research it is know that many of these individuals not only inject the methadone they receive, but abuse other drugs as well.
Q.) What is methadone treatment like?
A.) Methadone Program Falls Short Of User Expectations
Research that investigated the expectations and experiences of heroin addicts on the Methadone Maintenance Program has revealed a mixed bag of positive and negative responses to the program.
The results of the study, funded by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation - Queensland, were released at a Statewide videoconference to community alcohol and drug agencies today.
The study carried out by Dr Gayre Christie and Richard Hil of QUT and commissioned by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation - Queensland, has placed major emphasis on the perceptions of clients of the program, examining their motivations to take part in the program, their goals, and desired outcomes.
The research conducted in depth interviews with clients and staff of a Methadone Maintenance Program. While the study is not able to generalise the results across the State, the outcomes are strong indicators of the need for a review that extends the research to a larger sample of clinical staff and users in Queensland.
The reasons that people chose to participate in the program included the cost of heroin, their fear of going "cold turkey" to detox from heroin, their desire to break from their criminal activity to support their habit, and to obtain relief from pain. Their health and relationship issues also influenced their decision to participate.
Methadone was seen as the only realistic option available.
Their expectations were that methadone would eliminate the perceived stigma associated with being an addict, that they would receive support, help, and guidance from the clinical staff, and that their level of dependence would be reduced.
These expectations were only partly met. The expectation that was fulfilled was the high standard of professional help from clinical staff. They also reported the positive effects of having more money to meet the costs of food and rent, and the reduction in the health risks from needle usage.
However, their main areas of disappointment were the new health problems from the side effects of methadone, their increased dependence on a more addictive drug, the stigmatisation and privacy violations of regular attendance at clinics and pharmacies to obtain their dosage. They also reported that this resulted in depression and anxiety.
The need to obtain their daily doses of methadone also restricted their ability to obtain and maintain full time employment.
Their hopes for a drug free lifestyle were not realised with most expecting to be on the Methadone Maintenance Program for at least 12 months and some for life.
Q.) Why is methadone detox necessary?
A.) Methadone detox is invaluable to those who have tried to discontinue using opiates with methadone maintenance. Individuals are as physically dependent on methadone as they were to heroin or other opiates; this is not recovery from drug addiction. Detox from Methadone may be more difficult than other substances, but the end result is a body clean from drug polluting toxins. Methadone detox delivered at Summer House is one of the most thorough and successful detoxification procedures available.