Last Update: August 4, 2020

People dealing with opioid substance abuse disorders are frequently given medications to overcome dependence. Unfortunately, some of these individuals instead end up facing methadone addiction. Although methadone is frequently prescribed as a way to make it through withdrawal and stop abusing opioids, it also has a high risk of addiction itself.

In addition to frequent use in heroin treatment programs, methadone is also prescribed for pain management. The drug is able to serve these dual purposes because – although it is an opioid narcotic – it works differently than other drugs such as Oxycontin and heroin. As a weaker opioid with a slower onset of effects, it’s perfect for pain management and addiction treatment.  

While its therapeutic purposes are numerous, methadone addiction is a common outcome of improper use. If you or a family member have become addicted to this drug, it’s important to seek help immediately. The following information will help you understand the severity of the problem and how you can start the path of recovery. 

Methadone Addiction Symptoms

Much like other opioids, methadone works by releasing the chemical dopamine into your body. This is the chemical associated with reward and pleasure. When used properly, you shouldn’t experience any major symptoms or side effects. Proper dosages can reduce pain and make withdrawal symptoms more manageable until recovery from addiction occurs. 

Unfortunately, the mechanism that produces these benefits can also create dependence. Over time, your brain will become accustomed to the higher levels of dopamine produced by the drug. This could become a new “normal” for your body. Once your body has adapted to these levels, it won’t know how to react when the substance is suddenly missing. 

At this point, a methadone addiction has developed. The following symptoms are indicative of dependency:

  • Needing to take more of the drug for the same effect (i.e. “tolerance”).
  • Lying about the extent of your usage to loved ones. 
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms when trying to cease use. 
  • Failing at previous attempts to reduce or cease use. 
  • Continued use even after negative repercussions. 
  • Spending increasing amounts of time obtaining, using, or recovering from use.
  • Obtaining prescriptions deceptively or illegally. 
  • Taking methadone in a way that wasn’t prescribed. 
  • Prioritizing methadone use over other responsibilities. 

It’s worth noting that methadone addiction and abuse are two separate problems. Abusing methadone without becoming addicted is possible, but the risk factor for addictive behavior is so high that the two often go hand in hand. Remember that some side effects – such as fatigue, nausea and drowsiness – are normal. Let your doctor know if you experience these with use. 

When normal use or abuse move into the realm of addiction, getting off the drug becomes much more difficult. It takes time for your body to return to normal after ceasing use, and this is why doctors will taper you off the substance when it’s time to quit. If you experience any of the following withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop use, you’ve developed methadone addiction:

  • Severe constipation. 
  • Abdominal pain. 
  • Hot flashes or chills. 
  • Sweating. 
  • Disturbance in sleep patterns. 
  • Watery eyes and runny nose.  
  • Depression. 
  • Constant yawning. 

These withdrawal symptoms can be very serious, so a medical detoxification program is typically needed to safely stop using methadone. If you ever experience discolored fingertips or nails, vomiting, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness or constricted pupils, you should seek medical help immediately. These are potential signs of an overdose. 

Methadone addiction is not an easy struggle to overcome. While methadone is often a go-to treatment for opioid abuse, though, it’s not an option of last resort. The professionals at Transformations Treatment Center can help you create an alternative plan to target and defeat addiction. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help. 

Signs of Methadone Addiction

If you have a loved one that suffers from opioid addiction, methadone may have initially seemed like a gift from above. If dependency on this drug develops, though, the consequences can be just as deadly as abusing other substances. Unfortunately, individuals addicted to methadone are unlikely to admit to friends and family members that they have a problem. 

An even bigger issue is that those who are prescribed the drug can rationalize its use in their own minds. While identifying an addiction problem can be difficult when someone is trying to hide it, there are certain red flags that will still be noticeable. If your loved one shows any of the following signs of methadone addiction, it’s time to reach out and offer help:

  • Failing to live up to career, academic or familial responsibilities. 
  • Scheduling a suspiciously large amount of doctor’s appointments.
  • Repeated claims that they’ve lost their prescription. 
  • Evidence that pills are being crushed for smoking, snorting or injecting. 
  • Sudden problems with money or at work. 
  • Arrests related to drug use. 
  • Skipping doses in order to stockpile for later use. 
  • Withdrawal from activities they once enjoyed. 
  • Spending large amounts of time sleeping or drowsy.

Unfortunately, many of these symptoms could also point towards the need for mental health treatment. If your loved one has experienced past drug problems and was prescribed medication to overcome them, however, it’s likely that they’ve developed a methadone addiction. Figuring out what’s causing these issues can be difficult, so talking directly to your loved one is often best. 

Since speaking with friends and family members about drug addiction can be difficult, we’ve compiled a Family Member Support Guide to help you move forward. Addiction to methadone often requires a treatment plan that involves medication and healthcare professionals, but this guide will help you get the ball rolling. 

Methadone Addiction Statistics

The statistics related to methadone use are a double-edged sword. This is because the therapeutic use of the drug has seen great results over the years. Patients who are given methadone as a form of opioid addiction treatment, for instance, were over four times more likely to continue treatment. 

Unfortunately, other statistics show an increasingly problematic issue with the drug:

  • Between 21 and 25 percent of individuals in substance abuse treatment programs receive methadone. 
  • In recent years, methadone accounted for one-third of prescription painkiller deaths. 
  • There are about 5,000 methadone overdose deaths yearly – more than heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined. 
  • Overdose deaths linked to methadone addiction increased by 600 percent between 1999 and 2006. 
  • While overdose deaths decreased in subsequent years, they were still nearly 400 percent higher than in 1999. 
  • Even as overdose deaths were decreasing, emergency departments saw nearly 66,000 visits involving non-medical use of methadone in 2010. 
  • When methadone isn’t taken by who it’s prescribed to, it’s given to friends in 80 percent of cases. 
  • 254 new methadone clinics opened between 2014 and 2018. This was more than in the past two decades combined. 

The increasing availability of methadone means more people can get treatment for opioid addiction. Unfortunately, increased prescriptions also equate to increased overdose deaths from methadone addiction. It’s important to use this drug only under medical supervision and as prescribed. When the substance is abused, the risk of negative outcomes is substantial. 

If you or a loved one has developed a dependency on methadone, it’s important to seek treatment immediately. The same mechanism that makes the drug so effective as a replacement therapy also increases the likelihood of overdose when misused. Contact us at Transformations Treatment Center today for information on how to overcome this addiction. 

Methadone Addiction Treatment

Methadone is used in many drug treatment programs to overcome addiction to heroin and other opioids. When someone has developed a dependency on methadone, similar programs involving replacement medications may be necessary. The first step in treatment and recovery for individuals using methadone is typically medical detoxification. 

At Transformations Treatment Center, this is done in our Summit Detox facility. You’ll be medically monitored while the drug exits your system to ensure safety and comfort. This can include the administration of medications in order to reduce the uncomfortable side effects of withdrawal. Methadone can remain in a tolerant individual’s system for close to a week. 

Detox programs will vary based on the person. The following factors can all affect how long this process takes:

  • How tolerant a person has become to the drug. 
  • The length of time methadone addiction has existed. 
  • The size, gender, age and other attributes of the client. 
  • How frequently was the drug taken? 
  • Differences in dosage levels. 
  • Concurrent use of other drugs – including alcohol
  • Genetic factors. 
  • Overall physical health. 

Unfortunately, fluctuating withdrawal symptoms have the potential for lasting several weeks. Individuals suffering from co-occurring disorders – ranging from mental health problems to other drug use – will also need to be treated for these issues. Only after all potential underlying and contributing factors have been dealt with can the road to recovery begin. 

Methadone Addiction Recovery

Detoxification and overcoming withdrawal are just the first steps in recovery. Everyone will take a different path to this point, so it makes sense that recovery programs can also differ. At Transformations Treatment Center, we focus on creating a plan that focuses on the individual and increases their likelihood of beating substance abuse. 

To accomplish this, we offer a variety of treatment, therapy and recovery programs that focus on a holistic approach for overcoming methadone addiction. This means your individualized plan will focus on mind, body and spirit. During our assessment to plan the best path forward, we also consider whether family involvement would be beneficial to overall recovery. 

Because every client is different, each of the following programs are offered at Transformations:

  • Group and individual therapy. 
  • Family therapy. 
  • Serenity Lounge.
  • Mental health services. 
  • Partial hospitalization (PHP). 
  • Experiential services (e.g. Adventure Therapy). 
  • Outpatient (OP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs.

These strategies help with treatment, rehab and recovery from methadone addiction. You’ll learn to understand your addiction – including its root causes – and healthy ways to overcome it. And once you’ve finished your initial recovery plan, you’re never just thrown into the world alone by Transformations Treatment Center. Thanks to our aftercare program, you’ll always have support. 

Don’t Let Addiction Control Your Life

At Transformations Treatment Center, we understand how difficult it can be to take the first step in overcoming substance abuse. That’s why our certified staff of professionals and first-rate facilities are all geared towards giving you the best chance of beating methadone addiction. Opioid dependence doesn’t have to rule your life. Reach out to us for help today. 

References

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/efficacy-medications-opioid-use-disorder

https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/methadone-and-prescription-drug-overdose.aspx

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1352108

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6612a2.htm

https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/10/31/long-stigmatized-methadone-clinics-multiply-in-some-states

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