Tag: methadone maintenance

The Toughest Detox: Methadone Withdrawal and Side Effects

Withdrawal From Methadone Symptoms

Methadone is a long acting, synthetic opioid. For the non-scientifically inclined among us, that means it’s perfect for something called Opioid Replacement Therapy. This is also known as methadone maintenance.

Methadone Side Effects

Some advocates tote methadone as a wonder drug. There’s no shortage of evidence that, for certain people, methadone has helped greatly improve their lives. However, for most addicts, methadone is simply another addiction.

The complex case of this drug is complicated even further when looking at methadone side effects and symptoms related to withdrawal from methadone. Simply put, methadone has a lot of unintended side effects. It also puts users through an extended, hellish detox.

So, what are these methadone side effects? How do they impact methadone withdrawal symptoms? Find out below.

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Methadone Side Effects

Methadone is a member of the opioid family of drugs. It’s side effects are comparable to other opioids like heroin, oxycodone, Vicodin, etc.

What are the effects of methadone on the body? That’s a very important question to ask so you know what treatment could entail. Methadone side effects are generally broken down into two categories, serious and not so serious. This first category, not so serious, includes the following:

• Lightheadedness

• Nausea and Vomiting

• General weakness

• Short Periods of Unconsciousness (nodding out)

• Constipation

• Decreased Sex Drive

• Weight Gain

• Insomnia

While none of the above methadone side effects are pleasant, none are incredibly dire either. Then we get to the point that many want to know: What are the serious effects of methadone on the body? These serious considerations are uncomfortable at best and life-threatening at worst.

• Chest Pain

• Respiratory Depression

• Hypotension (dangerously low blood pressure)

• Pulmonary Edema (fluid in the lungs)

• Bradycardia (dangerously slow heartbeat)

• Arrhythmia

• Low Levels of Potassium and Magnesium in the Blood

• Cardiac Arrest

Suffice it to say, nobody wants any of the above happening to them. It’s for these reasons, and many more, that methadone has become such a controversial drug and side effects to methadone have been under scrutiny.

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Not least among methadone’s side effects is the difficult detox it produces. Methadone withdrawal symptoms have been known to last for up to six months. Before we talk about the length of detox, find common withdrawal from methadone symptoms below.

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Withdrawal from Methadone Symptoms

Remember, methadone is an opioid. So its withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of heroin, Percocet, and other opioids. These include:

• Nausea and Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Insomnia

• Hot and Cold Sweats

• Restless Leg Syndrome

• Body Cramping

• Extreme Depression

• Extreme Anxiety

• Irritability

• Bone Pain

• Muscle Pain and Cramps

• Drug Cravings

Those are the more common symptoms of methadone withdrawal, but what about the length? Well, this is where things get unpleasant. Methadone withdrawal symptoms have been known to last for as long as six months.

methadone side effects
Some people claim that the side effects to methadone are so unpleasant because “methadone gets into your bone marrow.” This is a myth. However, methadone is metabolized and stored by the body’s fat cells. In turn, this leads to a longer withdrawal than from other opioids.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms that last for months are generally less severe than these initial ones. However, insomnia, decreased appetite, shaking, and extreme depression have been known to linger.

Due to the severity of methadone withdrawal symptoms, it isn’t recommended that anyone stop “cold turkey.” Rather, you should reach out to professionals! Drug and alcohol treatment centers have safely detoxed people from methadone for decades.

If you or a loved one have experienced any of the above methadone withdrawal symptoms, call Lighthouse Recovery Institute today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015. We’re here to help you or your loved one quit drugs for good!

Opioid overdoses may now be a thing of the past!

What is ORT?: The New Fake Sobriety

Written By: Fiona Stockard

What is Methadone Maintenance?

methadone maintenance

Recovery from active addiction is hard. If you’re sober today, you deserve a high-five and pat on the back. Really though, sobriety is hard. In fact, recovery from active addiction is so hard that sometimes abstinence based recovery takes a backseat to other methods. I’m talking about methadone maintenance and the increasingly popular Suboxone maintenance.

Methadone maintenance is a form of addiction treatment often referred to as ORT, or Opioid Replacement Therapy. When someone receives methadone maintenance, they take regular doses of the synthetic opioid methadone.

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What is Methadone?

methadone program

Methadone is one of the longest acting opioids. This makes it hard to abuse. Rather than getting people high, methadone saturates the brain’s opioid receptors slowly, over an extended period of time. This doesn’t mean that methadone is abuse-proof.

As a tried and true junkie myself, I can vouch that methadone will get you loaded, but only at first. After the first few times taking it, methadone doesn’t you high. Instead, it stops withdrawal symptoms. This is where ORT becomes incredibly beneficial.

What is Suboxone Maintenance?

Suboxone maintenance is a new type of Opioid Replacement Therapy. This is when the drug buprenorphine is used instead of methadone.

The idea behind methadone and Suboxone maintenance is the same. Some addicts simply don’t respond to abstinence-based treatment. For those unlucky few, ORT offers a way to escape the destructive cycle of active addiction.

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What is Suboxone?

suboxone maintenance

Suboxone is a brand name version of the drug buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is an interesting chemical. It’s an opioid agonist and an opioid antagonist. This means that it simultaneously activates and deactivates opioid receptors in the brain.

Much like methadone, rather than getting you high, buprenorphine stops opioid withdrawal from occurring. This makes it a pretty valuable ORT drug.

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What are the Pro’s and Con’s of ORT?

For those addicts who’ve tried repeatedly to get sober, but can’t, ORT is a lifesaver. It offers a way to avoid the illegal lifestyle associated with active addiction. It stops withdrawal symptoms. It allows chronic-relapsers a chance at normality and stability.

That being said, Suboxone and methadone maintenance are pretty controversial. Opponents of ORT argue they enable addicts. They argue that we shouldn’t be handing drugs to addicts. They argue that it’s not real sobriety.

Well, they’re right…sort of. It’s not real sobriety. However, for those who just can’t seem to succeed at traditional addiction treatment, ORT is helpful. It offers an “easier, softer way.” It offers a way for them to avoid the more destructive aspects of active addiction. Plus, if someone going through ORT decides they’d like traditional treatment, clinics often help them find it.

ORT is legal in forty-five states. That’s a lot, but it’s worth noting that it isn’t legal everywhere. While going through ORT, addicts have to go to a clinic to get medication. They’re given regular drug tests and, if they fail, they’re kicked out of the program. They’re also offered support services, like group counseling and twelve-step meetings.

So, no one is handing out drugs on the street. After being in a methadone program for an extended period of time, addicts may be given “take home” doses. This is only offered to those with clean track records, though.

There are pro’s and con’s to Suboxone and methadone maintenance. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Is it a helpful tool or a way to enable addicts?

Learn about other forms of harm reduction

We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.