Prescription drug abuse, of opioid painkillers especially, is a very fast rising form of drug addiction, claiming more lives then any other form of preventable death. Even when these prescriptions are not deliberately misused, they can easily become addictive, and often have a long and painful withdraw process.
Simply independently going "cold turkey" after developing an addiction can mean as much as 30 hours of uncomfortable symptoms, including anxiety, diarrhea and vomiting, and muscle aches. Even after the initial symptoms have subsided, you may continue to be anxious, feel very tired, and continue to feel a craving to turn back to your pills.
Some people attempting to enter recovery from opioid addiction have turned to Methadone. Methadone is also an opioid medication and pain reliever, but does not create the "high" associated with other drugs in its class.
For that reason, it can soften the symptoms associated with withdraw, and prevent relapse. However, a methadone treatment can be controversial, since it is also a potentially addictive narcotic, and some suggest its users are simply be switching to a new drug, which is not really solving the problem of addiction.
Here is some basic information that can help someone struggling with opioid misuse and addiction make an informed decision about whether or not methadone should be a part of their recovery plan.
The promise of methadone
Because Methadone performs some of the same functions as the substance to which you were addicted, but without the associated "high," it can make withdraw a much easier process, and help to reduce cravings. Even after the withdraw symptoms have subsided, most people find it necessary to continue taking methadone for a while, until their cravings subside totally.
The use of methadone is referred to as "maintenance," not in and of itself causing sobriety, but it can sometimes be an important step in dealing with addiction and reducing some of its harm, in the hardest, beginning stages of recovery and withdraw.
Problems and risks with methadone
The most extreme negative side effects of methadone include stopped or slow breathing, and a disruption of the heart's beating rhythm. People with asthma, serious breathing problems, or heart disease should avoid methadone all together, and use should be discontinued if you experience a headache with chest pain or pounding heartbeats.
Prescription drug addicts may have developed a habit of misusing their opioid painkillers, taking more then a recommended dosage or for times when it's not prescribed. Misusing methadone in this way can result in addiction, overdose and death.
Remember, methadone is a long acting medication, which means it stays in the body long after the dosage is taken, and it can take a couple of days for it to become effective, making an overdose likely if you take as much as you can until feeling its full effects. Addictive patterns need to be broken before it can be used safely.
It may prove a good experience to practice using prescription drugs responsibly, keeping its use within the boundaries set by healthcare professionals. However, if addictive patterns continue, simply switching to methadone will solve nothing, and will bring its own health risks.
Do not use alcohol or any other drugs while taking methadone, as mixing these substances can be life threatening.
Things to consider before using (or deciding not to use) methadone
Methadone is itself a narcotic painkiller, addictive and dangerous if overdosed. Thus, if methadone is used at all, it needs to be part of a larger holistic treatment plan alongside conventional recovery methods and cognitive behavioral therapy that can put a stop to addictive behavior.
Follow the instruction of a doctor carefully, neither increasing nor decreasing your dosage without his or her instructions.
Thus, Methadone will not single-handily "cure" an opioid addiction, and plenty of people do not find it necessary part of going through withdraw process, finding alternatives that do not carry the same risks to health or of continuing in a lifestyle of addiction. Talk to your doctors, and to others in a support group, to see if its use would be helpful or not.