The Risks of Methadone Withdrawal

Methadone is a synthetic opiate drug that was originally used for the treatment of chronic pain, but for many years now it has been associated with the treatment of heroin addiction. Heroin users are typically prescribed methadone as a replacement for heroin as both are opiate drugs. The effects of methadone are less intense than those of heroin, but they last longer. However, as methadone is also an opiate drug, it can be highly addictive. Many heroin addicts who have been given methadone as a replacement have become addicted to it. When they try to quit the drug, they experience methadone withdrawal symptoms, which can be quite unpleasant.

Methadone Addiction

The term drug addiction is commonly linked to illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. However, a growing phenomenon is prescription drug addiction. Prescription medications such as methadone are not available over the counter because of how dangerous and addictive they can be.

Those that take methadone as a replacement for heroin are in danger of developing an addiction to the drug. As with most prescription medications, methadone should only be taken over a short period. The idea behind replacing heroin with methadone is that the methadone will allow the user to quit heroin without experiencing the nasty side effects.

The user should then be given reduced doses of methadone until he or she is weaned off completely, thus being able to quit both heroin and methadone. Nevertheless, this seldom happens. Many people end up with a lifelong addiction to methadone that they are unable to conquer. Some experts believe methadone to be more addictive than heroin, and many people find it very difficult to stop taking it. In fact, critics of the methadone programme say that addicts prescribed methadone are simply swapping one addiction for another.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term use of methadone will ultimately result in addiction, and methadone withdrawal can be very painful. Those who have been taking the drug for an extended period of time will have built up a tolerance to it, and the more they take, the more likely they are to become physically dependent on it. This means that when they stop taking it, their body starts to crave it.

Methadone addicts trying to quit often experience painful symptoms and intense cravings, which leads them straight back to the drug. Many then become caught in a cycle of temporary withdrawal followed by a return to drug use.

Here at, we would recommend that those who want to quit methadone for good begin their journey with a supervised medical detox. Detoxing from methadone should be carried out in a supervised facility where medical staff can alleviate the painful methadone withdrawal symptoms and make the patient more comfortable. Patients who detox under the care and supervision of qualified staff are less likely to return to the drug before the detox has been completed.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms can be flu-like in the early days. It is likely that the affected individual will feel aches and pains coupled with fatigue, anxiety, and restlessness. He or she may also experience sweating at this stage. As the withdrawal progresses, it is common to suffer from stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

What to Expect

Many individuals with addiction will delay getting help as they are frightened of going through detox. They have heard horror stories of patients writhing in pain and even being strapped to a table to stop them returning to drug use. These stories probably came from old films and TV programmes where drug detox was sensationalised; the truth is that getting clean does not have to be this way.

When it comes to methadone withdrawal, symptoms typically begin around thirty hours after the patient has quit the drug. The flu-like symptoms can persist for several days while some may linger for a few weeks. In most cases, symptoms will peak during the first week before then declining.

If you are an affected person and are about to enter a supervised facility for your methadone withdrawal, you may be given medication that will help to prevent many of the worst symptoms and to make the withdrawal process shorter. If you are given medication during your detox, you will be under the care of a medical doctor or nurse throughout.

Help for Methadone Addiction

Recovering from a methadone addiction begins with detox, but it does not end there. It is vital that methadone addicts are clean from the drug before they start rehabilitation so that they will have a clear head, but it is important to note that detox is not the same as treatment.

Getting clean is a huge first step, but it is just that; the first step. The road to sobriety and clean living is long, so you must be prepared to commit to a programme of rehabilitation if you want to get better. We can help by providing support and advice on what treatments are like and by putting you in touch with a suitable provider.

You have a number of options when it comes to methadone withdrawal treatment. We work alongside many organisations including charities, local support groups, the NHS and private clinics, where you can access inpatient or outpatient treatment programmes.

In most cases, we would recommend inpatient treatment because the cravings that occur with methadone withdrawal can be intense and can persist for months. Recovering in a residential facility may be easier for methadone addicts as they are away from the temptations and distractions of everyday life while their recovery becomes stronger.

Whether opting for inpatient or outpatient treatment for a methadone addiction, one can expect to be treated with one-to-one counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, and 12-step work. Most facilities use elements of these treatments as well as group therapy, contingency management and motivational interviewing. These treatments are used to help the patient get to the cause of the addiction and learn to live a clean and healthy sober life without the need for mood-altering substances.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a methadone addiction and would like help getting better, contact today.

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