What is Methadone?
Of all the drugs out there, street and prescription, none are as misunderstood as methadone. People, even those who’ve had firsthand experience with this synthetic opioid, simply don’t understand what methadone is, how it works, and the inherent dangers it brings with it.
Lighthouse has written about methadone before and we’ll write about it again. We won’t stop until everyone understands the truth about this chemical! What is that truth, you ask? Simple – methadone pills and liquid are dangerous and potentially deadly.
Methadone dosage varies widely and overdose isn’t uncommon. This is true even for those who’ve been on the drug for quite some time. Speaking of extended periods taking methadone, there’s a little something called methadone maintenance treatment to be addressed. Add into this already complicated equation the varying opinions on whether taking methadone is “allowed” in recovery and, well, you can see why there’s such fierce misunderstanding.
So, with all the above in mind, let’s see if we can’t shed some light on what this opioid really is. First up, let’s look at methadone dosages.
Methadone pills and liquids come in a ton of different strengths. These can range from five-milligram pills all the way to 100+ milligram syrups. It’s important to remember that someone’s methadone dosage is dependent on why they’re taking the medication in the first place and their body’s reaction.
Some people are prescribed methadone for pain related issues. Despite being thought of only as a form of medication assisted therapy, methadone has a long history of being used to reduce chronic pain.
In this case, an individual’s methadone dosage is usually much lower than if they were taking the drug as a form of addiction treatment. This is because they probably don’t have an opioid tolerance. Over time, doctors will adjust a patient’s methadone dosage depending on their level of pain and how well they tolerate the various side effects.
The other reason methadone is commonly prescribed is to help individual’s addicted to heroin and other opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.). This is also known as methadone maintenance treatment. I’ll explore this in depth below, but first let’s look at dosage.
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Someone’s methadone dosage is, broadly speaking, much higher if they’re on maintenance treatment. This makes sense, as they already have a tolerance to opioids in general. A patient’s methadone dosage while receiving maintenance therapy could be as high as 200 milligrams. However, and here’s where things get controversial, methadone pill overdose is higher in people receiving the drug for maintenance than in those receiving it for chronic pain.
Perhaps this is due to the vastly different ways these populations consume methadone. One takes it to relieve pain, the other takes it so they won’t relapse into active addiction. One has the brain of a “normie,” the other has the brain of an addict.
I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m demonizing those struggling with addiction. I’m simply suggesting some possible reasons that methadone overdose is higher in those receiving medication-assisted therapies.
Having looked at various methadone dosages, and how those dosages vary depending on the reason someone is prescribed the drug, let’s examine closer what methadone maintenance treatment is all about.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment
Better minds than mine have discussed the in’s and out’s of methadone maintenance treatment, so we won’t beat a dead horse. What Lighthouse offers is a firsthand examination of what methadone maintenance treatment really looks like. That is to say, can you take methadone and be “truly” sober?
Opinions are all over the board on this question. Some say that taking methadone pills is completely acceptable in recovery. Others argue that taking opioids, methadone or otherwise, is a relapse. Some say that because many doctors offer methadone as a first line treatment for heroin addiction, it’s okay to take and call yourself sober. Others disagree.
Unfortunately there simply isn’t an easy answer. Rather, this is a decision that each individual much reach after consulting with their doctor(s), their sober supports (including their sponsor!), their spiritual or religious advisor, and their loved ones. After talking to all those people, it’s up to the individual to make an informed decision about whether methadone maintenance treatment is right for them.
Through our extensive personal experiences, we’ve seen both the good and the bad. While Lighthouse has no opinion on the effectiveness of methadone maintenance treatment, we do strongly encourage everyone to attempt abstinence-based treatment first.