Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is often used for treating pain and is popular because the effects last longer than other opiates. The substance influences the brain’s opioid receptors in the same manner as heroin or morphine, but the chemical structure of methadone is different than other opiates. Heroin and morphine can typically last a few hours, but methadone can last between eight and 59 hours, which depends on an individual’s tolerance and the dosage.

Methadone is often used to help addicts detox from heroin. Detoxification is a process where the body will eliminate toxins that accumulated during drug use. Detox from heroin can be an uncomfortable and dangerous process, which is why it is highly recommended for those with an addiction to seek help from a drug detox clinic that provides supervised detox. Methadone produces some of the same effects of heroin, so it can help heroin addicts suppress their cravings and ease the symptoms of withdraw. Methadone is released into the body slower than heroin and lasts longer, so methadone doses are provided once a day during detoxification.

Although methadone is used to treat those addicted to heroin, there is controversy surrounding its use for heroin detox. According to studies, methadone can cause a physical dependence that is similar to heroin. In addition, methadone detox is as difficult or more difficult than detox from heroin and can produce symptoms that can be as severe as heroin detox. Methadone abuse has increased so rapidly that it is the fastest growing cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Methadone Addiction Treatment

Due to the significant rise in methadone overdose deaths, many individuals who were addicted to heroin also seek help for a methadone abuse problem, which occurred from taking methadone during heroin recovery treatment. Although methadone does help many individuals overcome a heroin addiction, the substance is highly addictive and results in many heroin addicts developing an addiction to methadone.

Although the chemical structure of methadone is different than other opiates, such as morphine or heroin, it is just as addictive as other drugs in its class. In fact, there are some who believe that methadone is more addictive than other opiates. The drug produces the euphoric feeling as heroin and also causes the same withdrawal symptoms that include insomnia, vomiting, fever, and severe cravings. There are many individuals who reported that methadone withdrawal is more intense than heroin withdrawal. Furthermore, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a public health advisory warning about the dangerous and life-threatening side effects of methadone.

Methadone treatment typically uses the same approach as heroin treatment, which includes providing those in recovery with medication to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. There is a medication called buprenorphine, which includes Subutex and Suboxone, that eases the symptoms of withdrawal without the risk of addiction. The medication effectively helps reduce cravings and can even be administered during an outpatient treatment program. Individuals are eventually weaned off the medication without developing an addiction.

Methadone Detoxification

Typically when individuals are recovering from a methadone addiction, they are provided with Subutex or Suboxone to combat the symptoms of withdrawal.

Immediately after treatment begins, many patients will be given Subutex for up to 24 hours after methadone use has stopped. After 24 hours, Subutex will be replaced with Suboxone, which contains naloxone. Naloxone is used to prevent overdose and the improper use of Suboxone. Medication is usually administered for about 30 days, which is typically when cravings should stop completely. It is imperative for individuals with a methadone addiction to seek help from a substance abuse treatment facility that provides monitored detox because the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that withdrawal symptoms from methadone can last up to one year.

L-alpha-acetylmethadol (LAAM) is another medication that can be used for methadone addiction. LAAM works in the same manner as buprenorphine, so it can be beneficial for those in a methadone addiction recovery program. However, LAAM can cause side effects that includes abnormal liver function, rash, high blood pressure, and nausea.

Recovery Programs

When individuals with a methadone addiction decide to seek treatment, inpatient programs are usually recommended. Individuals who participate in an inpatient rehabilitation program will reside at the substance abuse treatment facility for the duration of their treatment program. Many individuals choose inpatient treatment programs because they are more successful than outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient treatment programs provide patients with around the clock support and medical supervision, which is primarily why these programs are more successful than outpatient programs.

Outpatient treatment programs are structured in the same way as inpatient treatment programs, but individuals who participate in outpatient treatment programs will reside in their homes during treatment. Outpatient treatment programs allow individuals the chance to uphold school, job, and personal obligations, but the success rate for recovery is lower with outpatient programs. Those who participate in outpatient programs can be subjected to the same negative stressors that caused drug abuse.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer individual and group therapy. These therapy sessions are an important part of the rehabilitation process because they help individuals recognize and understand the cause of their addiction and learn how to overcome methadone abuse.

Because there is a link between drug abuse and mental health disorders, there are many individuals with co-occurring disorders. There are instances when a mental health disorder can lead to an addiction or vise versa. A substance abuse treatment center that offers dual diagnosis treatment is recommended for those with co-occurring disorders. When an individual with a co-occurring disorder participates in a dual diagnosis treatment program, he or she will receive treatment for both conditions, which increases the chances on long-term recovery.

After a methadone addiction treatment program is complete, it is suggested that individuals participate in an aftercare program. An aftercare program can provide individuals with continuous support and help them maintain a life free from methadone. Furthermore, many aftercare programs also give participants the opportunity to learn new communication and job skills.