How It Works and Is It Safe?
In comparison to all other medications prescribed for the treatment of addiction, methadone has been the most studied and monitored amongst patients. Methadone has been utilized within opiate recovery programs since the 1960s and has over five decades of clinical research to verify its safety and effectiveness. Methadone is given in the form of a daily dissolvable tablet or liquid solution that works in collaboration with a patient’s central nervous system to lower the symptoms of withdrawal while also diminishing the cravings for additional opioid use.
Numerous studies have indicated that there are no short or long-term health risks when methadone is taken as directed under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional due to its non-toxic status. Experts have also noted that the side effects of methadone are typically temporary and usually only take place during the induction phase of treatment when the patient’s dosages are being adjusted by his or her provider in order to determine the ideal dosing level.
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, methadone is a safe option for pregnant women who are battling an addiction to opioids, as methadone treatment during pregnancy does not cause any health risks to either the mother or the child.
As is the case with most medications, there are risks involved if methadone is taken in a manner other than that which is prescribed. Overdosing on methadone is a real risk for individuals who consume it for reasons other than its intended use. One-third of all prescription medication fatalities that take place every year are due to methadone overdose. It is important, however, to note that these deaths took place when methadone was taken in an illegal manner and not as part of a medication assisted treatment program. When taken under the supervision of a trained medical professional within a comprehensive treatment program, methadone is extremely safe.
The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment
Decades of studies have verified the safety and effectiveness of methadone when used in treating opioid addiction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment that utilizes methadone is the most effective form of care for treating opioid addiction currently available.
The CDC has also documented that multiple studies have confirmed the following successes directly linked with the use of methadone within a medication assisted treatment program:
- A reduction or complete discontinuation of drug use
- A reduction in the risk of overdose
- A reduction in the risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS
- Drastically increasing life expectancy (the average rate of death amongst those addicted to opiates who take part in a methadone treatment program is 30% less than those who do not receive treatment)
- A lower chance of taking part in illegal actives
- An improvement in family stability and career potential
- Increased outcomes for both pregnant women and their children
When taken as prescribed within a medication assisted treatment program, methadone is an extremely safe and effective option for individuals who are struggling with an opioid addiction.
Benefits of Methadone Treatment Plus Counseling
While methadone tackles the physical symptoms associated with withdrawal, as well as lowering the cravings for additional opioid use, it is imperative that patients also receive treatment for the emotional components of addiction as well. By incorporating therapeutic interventions such as individual and group therapy into treatment, patients will be provided with the tools necessary to achieve and maintain long-term recovery. Individual therapy provides patients the opportunity to meet with a counselor in a one-on-one setting, while group therapy brings together patients to provide a sense of community and support in a counselor-led setting.
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program: Although methadone is an extremely safe and effective method in treating opioid addiction, it is important that patients understand that it is a not a singular cure. In order to achieve and maintain sobriety long-term, patients must put forth the time, effort, and dedication necessary to truly make the most out of their treatment. Madison Comprehensive Treatment Centers employ a team of highly qualified physicians, nurses, and counselors who provide patients with the highest level of care throughout the entire treatment process. By following their advice and playing an active role in one’s own treatment, patients are given the opportunity to drastically increase the likelihood that they will be able to successfully progress toward recovery.
How to Support Your Loved One During Medication Assisted Treatment: In order to provide your loved one who is struggling with an opioid addiction the care required to progress through treatment, you must first provide yourself with care and support. Addiction affects everyone involved, including those who are not physically using the substance. By educating yourself about the disease of addiction while also understanding the limitations of treatment, you will be able to gain a better understanding of what is required of you throughout the treatment process. Attending both support groups and family counseling sessions are extremely helpful tools to obtain more information and support so that you can properly encourage and care for your loved one as he or she progresses in his or her recovery.
The Side Effects of Methadone
The following are potential side effects often associated with methadone use:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Slowed breathing
- Skin rashes
For more information regarding the use of methadone within a comprehensive treatment program, please contact the dedicated intake team at Madison Comprehensive Treatment Centers today.