Methadone is a synthetic opioid drug used to help ease withdrawal symptoms in patients addicted to heroin or other opiates. People who are addicted to opiates will experience withdrawal when they stop taking the drug. Withdrawal from opiates can be a frightening and painful process. The use of methadone as a treatment is effective because it stops the onset of withdrawal and helps the patient as they are being weaned off the drug. Long-term use of methadone can cause addiction in the patient and a second detox will be necessary if this occurs. Methadone is a powerful drug that can cause serious health problems when used long-term. Severe adverse effects from this drug include respiratory and heart problems, coma and death.
The Detox and Withdrawal Process
Withdrawal symptoms will begin when a methadone addict stops taking the drug. The symptoms of withdrawal will start about thirty hours after the last drug was taken and will last for a few weeks or more. Most addicts will have muscle aches and feel like they have the flu. They may also experience nausea, vomiting, chills, tremors, adrenal problems, insomnia, cramps, dehydration and diarrhea.
The addict can also experience psychological symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, depression, delirium, hallucinations, anxiety, panic, paranoia and delusions. Medications are available, such as Buprenorphine and Clonidine, that help to alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms. It is not recommended that an addict go through methadone withdrawal alone but they should have the help of an experienced doctor or medical team. Professional medical treatments provide the addict with the best chance of recovery.
Methadone withdrawal can be a severe process that is both exhausting and painful. The best place for an addict to go through detox and withdrawal is in a State approved inpatient rehab facility. Rehab facilities offer the best medical and psychological treatments to the recovering addict. The experienced medical team understands the devastating effects that methadone has on the body. The patient may receive an IV hydration to replace water and electrolytes. Methadone causes a depletion of vital minerals, amino acids and vitamins and the patient can be given nutrition and supplementation to build the body back up to a healthy state. Part of the treatment will also include educating the patient about methadone and how it has affected the body. Understanding the dangers of the drug will give the patient an added incentive to want to get well.
The Rapid Detox Method
A detox method that is different than the traditional method is called the rapid detox method. It offers a safe and quick withdrawal process. When a person is accepted for this method they enter a hospital and are prepped with tests and pre-medications. The patient is then placed in the ICU and sedated for about 60 to 90 minutes. As the patient sleeps the withdrawal process is induced and accelerated with medications that block the opioid receptors. The process is controlled and monitored by a professional medical team. The patient experiences no discomfort and will have no memory of the withdrawal process. When the patient awakes they are closely monitored. The typical hospital stay for the rapid detox method is 2 to 4 days. After that, the patient will spend the transitional period in an aftercare facility for another seven days. The rapid detox method ensures the patient the convenience of not having to consciously experience the withdrawal process.
Methadone Detox Aftercare
Regardless of the method a person decides to use to get off methadone they must remember that success is within their reach. Slowly weaning off the drug while the body adapts to the change can be accomplished. The rapid method is also a good choice. Once off methadone, the patient should continue with counseling and support which is an essential part of recovery. The patient faces a long-term battle against cravings and relapse. Behavior modification therapy will prepare the patient to cope with life stresses and cues in the environment that may trigger relapse. In addition, positive feedback from family and friends will encourage the patient not to give up in a weak moment.