Risks of Methadone Abuse: Withdrawal and Detox

Making the decision to quit methadone can be difficult. If you or a loved one has been pondering whether or not to get treatment, you may have questions about the process or even be wondering if your level of use is really considered on addiction. You may have put off treatment because you were unsure of what the withdrawal process would look like or whether or not you can make it through the withdrawals without relapse. These feelings are normal and the best way to put these fears to rest is to have a clear understanding of the detox process so you can go in knowing what to expect. The following is everything you need to know about methadone detox.

Addiction to Methadone

Methadone is synthetic (lab produced) opioid currently used to treat addiction to opioids. It works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain to not only block feelings of pain but also to induce feelings of calm and euphoria. Methadone is different from other opioids, such as heroin, in the fact that it contains a second component which blocks the feelings of euphoria typically sought by opioid addicts. Methadone is successful in treating opioid addiction because it minimizes withdrawal effects while also decreasing the risk for abuse due to the fact that a high typically cannot be obtained by taking it.

While methadone is used for opioid addiction, it does carry a risk of addiction. There are several signs that you or a loved one may have a methadone addiction including:

While the aforementioned list is not exhaustive, it is a good place to start if you are concerned about your methadone use. If you believe that your use constitutes the level of addiction, you may want to reach out to a methadone addiction counselor to discuss methadone detox.

What is Methadone Withdrawal?

Withdrawal from methadone occurs when your body has become dependent on the medication and suddenly stop using it. Withdrawal happens because while taking methadone, your brain stops producing normal amounts of dopamine which is the chemical responsible for feelings of wellbeing, calm and happiness. Instead, the brain allows for the methadone to take over the production of dopamine.

When you suddenly stop taking methadone, the amount of the drug in your bloodstream suddenly decreases leaving the brain to play catch up to get the dopamine back to normal levels. It can take several days before dopamine levels are naturally increased and during that time you may feel physically and emotionally ill.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

It is important to note that withdrawal is an individual experience and not everyone experiences the same symptoms. There are some common symptoms of methadone withdrawal which include:

Methadone is a long-acting opioid which means that withdrawal symptoms typically won’t set in until about 30 hours after the last dosage. Symptoms in the initial stages of withdrawal are primarily physical. These will tend to peak around day five and then begin to dissipate by the tenth day. While the physical symptoms may dissipate fairly quickly, the cognitive issues, including depression and difficulty focusing may linger for up to a month after the last dose.

Methadone Detox

Detoxing from methadone is the process of cleansing the drug from the body, thereby decreasing the physical and mental dependence on it. It can occur naturally through the abrupt cessation of methadone or it can be medically assisted.

There are options for detox. Those with more severe addictions or co-occurring addictions several may opt for inpatient treatment which provides around the clock support in a residential treatment setting. Inpatient treatment provides you with access to a counselor and a physician who will monitor your progress through the most critical parts of withdrawal to make sure you are physically and emotionally safe and taken care of.

Some individuals may opt to engage in intensive outpatient services, which allow you to continue working or going to school and living in your community. This option still provides support but doesn’t disrupt your everyday routine outside of treatment. This option may be best suited for individuals with less severe addictions who can maintain the treatment schedule.

Abruptly stopping methadone is strongly discouraged as withdrawal symptoms may be severe and can increase the risk of relapse. Those wishing to detox from methadone are encouraged to engage in medical detox, which minimizes withdrawal symptoms through the use of medications such as buprenorphine, along with counselor support and physician guidance. After you have successfully detoxed from methadone, you will then begin to taper off the medications utilized in your detox process.

Deciding to enter detox and subsequent recovery is not an easy thing. However, with the right support and information, you can begin a journey toward recovery from methadone addiction. Are you or a loved one ready to detox from methadone? Give us a call today at (844)834-1777. Our compassionate and knowledgable counselors are available 24/7 to take your call.