Methadone Facts

Important Methadone Facts 

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a synethetic opioid that is used to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of opiates (heroin, oxycontin, etc). Methadone binds to the same receptors in the brain that opiates bind to, and this is meant to prevent a person from experiencing the high/rush they would usually feel from opiates. 

When taken properly, Methadone is supposed to help with cravings for these opiates. Methadone is considered a maintenance treatment for opiate addiction, which means it is often used for long periods of time. Some people will use it briefly in an attempt to stay off of other opiates, like heroin and oxycontin.

So What's the Problem With Methadone?

While it is true that Methadone can and often does relieve withdrawal symptoms, the user will eventually have to withdraw from Methadone as well. There are people who stay on Methadone for years, or perhaps their entire lives. Many people take it correctly and feel as though its benefits outweigh its negatives. Methadone is legal, and it is much cheaper and  safer than buying illicit opiates on the streets.

The people who want to eventually stop taking Methadone will inevitably have to deal with withdrawal symptoms. When someone stops taking Methadone, it is often longer and more painful than coming off of other opiates. Methadone is used to alleviate symptoms, but all it really does is postpone and cause more withdrawal symptoms. It is important to know these Methadone facts before deciding to take the drug or not.

Methadone can also be used to relieve chronic pain. It can be used long term without the user developing much of a tolerance to it. Everyone is different, but many people can be on the same dose of Methadone for years or decades.

There are a lot of people who consider Methadone to be a wonder drug: it stops many people from abusing illicit drugs, and it can be extremely helpful for pain management. Methadone pain management is a great thing for a lot of people, but there are also a lot of negative side effects that accompany Methadone.

Methadone Side Effects

Some of the most important Methadone facts are its side effects. It is important to realize that Methadone can cause a user to have many adverse reactions. Some of the common side effects of Methadone are:

  • Excessive perspiration
  • Constipation
  • Feeling tired
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth

Other Methadone side effects are common, but generally go away after the first week of usage. These side effects include:

  • Feeling more anxious than usual
  • Feeling depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches/pains
  • Nausea

If these side effects don't subside within the first couple of weeks, a doctor should be consulted. If someone taking Methadone experiences seizures or breathing problems, a doctor should be contacted immediately. It is important for a user to know these Methadone facts so they can receive medical help if needed.

Methadone Withdrawal

Withdrawing from Methadone is generally very painful. This is a major reason that many people can't justify taking Methadone to help with opiate addiction. Most people think that eventually, the user should be taken off of the Methadone. If this is the case, then it seems a bit counterproductive to give someone Methadone, a drug with severe withdrawal symptoms, in order to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of other opiates. Methadone withdrawal symptoms are generally considered to be more painful than such symptoms from other opiates. When the user stops taking Methadone, symptoms may include:

  • Muscle aches/pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability/anger
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Severe nausea
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fever/chills and other flu-like symptoms
  • Cramps
  • Depression

Withdrawing from opiates is painful, but the symptoms usually subside in about a week. When a user stops taking Methadone, the withdrawal symptoms can last weeks or even a month.

So why are so many people switching from other opiates to Methadone? This is a topic that is constantly being debated. Methadone facts are sometimes hard to find because people generally have such strong opinions about this matter. Are Methadone users just switching from one addiction to another? Is it not counterproductive to take Methadone to avoid withdrawal symptoms, when really all it does is postpone them and then cause worse withdrawal symptoms? People seem to have very strong opinions regarding this topic. A lot of Methadone users face judgment from clean and sober people who attend 12 step meetings. Many of them don't consider someone on Methadone to be clean.

I don't think there is a right answer. Methadone does work. For some people, it allows them to have their lives back and live and function normally. Some of these people take Methadone for years, or decades, or perhaps forever. There are other people who abuse Methadone, in which case it is no different than abusing heroin or oxycontin. And then there are people who take Methadone as directed in order to stay off of other opiates, but don't want to use it long-term. For this group, what is the point of taking Methadone? Would it not be easier to withdrawal from the other opiates instead of switching to Methadone? A huge benefit is that it stops a person from buying drugs on thh street, which is illegal and dangerous. Methadone is regulated and legal, and the hope is that people will use it properly. 

Whatever decision you make regarding Methadone, I urge you to learn all of the Methadone facts so you can make an informed decision.

What do you think? Should Methadone be used to treat opiate addiction? Should it be used for chronic pain? Or should it not be used at all? If you are on a Methadone Maintenance program, are you 'clean?'

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