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Drug Treatment and Methadone

How Methadone Helps in Drug Treatment

Methadone helps in drug treatment by eliminating the withdrawal pains that someone quitting opiates would have to normally endure. In effect, the methadone replaces the heroin or morphine that the addict would normally ingest with a substitute opiate that does not create a high, is significantly cheaper, and can be taken without needles. In this way, methadone makes the process of withdrawal less painful, sobriety more pleasant, and allows the recovering addict to focus more clearly on their time at a drug rehab center.

Knowing how methadone detox helps in drug treatment requires a basic understanding of the effect of heroin, morphine and other opiates in the body. When these opiates are injected, snorted or eaten, they mimic the action of endorphins created by the body to control mood and manage pain. As the level of these artificial endorphins rises, the user has an immediate sensation of euphoria, well being and safety. At the same time, the body responds to the temporary imbalance by shutting off the production and uptake of these naturally created endorphins.

Once the body metabolizes the opiates, the body suffers through a period of reduced endorphins until the body resumes normal production and uptake. That period of endorphin lack is called withdrawal and the symptoms are more or less diametrically opposite of the heroin induced euphoria. Instead of euphoria, peace and relaxation, the withdrawing user suffers depression, agitation, anxiety, trembling, nausea and other discomfort. When a user’s body becomes dependant on taking opiates, he or she begins to take opiates in greater and greater quantities to avoid withdrawal instead of to obtain euphoria. At that point, he or she can be said to be truly addicted.

Substituting Methadone for Heroin

Methadone helps in drug treatment by eliminating the withdrawal symptoms of quitting heroin. After chronic and long term use, the natural levels of endorphins become so low that the addict suffers very intense withdrawal pains upon quitting the use of the drug. Methadone mimics the action of heroin, but does not create euphoria, is about fifty times cheaper and can be taken orally.

For some heroin addicts, methadone is taken indefinitely, in a program known as methadone maintenance. In this type of treatment, users receive regular doses of methadone for as long as they want to. For other addicts, methadone is an intermediate step between opiate addiction and sobriety. For these users, the methadone is administered early in sobriety, to stave off withdrawal symptoms and allow the body to process out the heroin or morphine. Then the methadone is slowly tapered off, going down to a dosage of zero eventually.

Methadone Addiction and Withdrawal

Though methadone helps in drug treatment, some users find that methadone withdrawal is nearly as intolerable as heroin addiction withdrawal. Because of methadone’s chemical composition, the withdrawal takes place over a longer time, up to twenty four hours. For that reason, some users might initially take methadone in withdrawal, and then substituted for buprenorphine, which is then tapered down slowly to a dosage of zero.

The Orchid Recovery Center understands the complexities of methadone addiction – and how it can impact a woman’s life. Using treatment methods that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of women – and addressing the root causes of their addiction – The Orchid is able to help break the cycle of Methadone addiction, and other opiate addictions that may accompany the condition. For more information, contact The Orchid today.

Further Reading