What is Methadone?
WHAT IS METHADONE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Methadone is a synthetic agent that works by “occupying” the brain receptor sites affected by heroin and other opioids, including prescription pain medications.
***WHAT IS METHADONE MAINTENANCE TREATMENT (MMT)?
Methadone maintenance treatment, a program in which individuals addicted to opiate drugs receive daily doses of methadone, was initially used in the US in the 1960’s.
Methadone Maintenance treatment is intended to eliminate opiate use among addicts by stabilizing them on methadone for as long as necessary to help restore their lives and avoid returning to previous patterns of illegal drug use, drug seeking behaviors and risk of developing chronic and / or communicable disease. The goal of methadone maintenance treatment is to reduce illegal opiate use and the crime, death, disease and other negative consequences associated with addiction.
DOES METHADONE JUST SUBSTITUTE ONE ADDICTIVE DRUG (SUCH AS HEROIN OR PRESCRIPTION PAIN MEDICATIONS) WITH ANOTHER (METHADONE)?
Methadone Maintenance Treatment is a form of drug replacement therapy, using a medication (methadone) to overcome the compulsive need for other opioid drugs (such as heroin or other abused opioids). While the person is, indeed, physiologically dependent on methadone, the pharmacologic actions of methadone are quite different from addictive opioid agents. It is not merely a substitute.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF METHADONE MAINTENANCE TREATMENT?
The benefits of methadone as a component of a comprehensive treatment program for opioid addiction have been validated by numerous clinical studies and confirmed by authorities in the addiction treatment field. These include the following:
A stable maintenance dose of methadone does not make the patient feel either “high” or drowsy”. The person can socialize, work or go to school, and generally carry on a normal life. Methadone can be taken orally once daily or in split doses, helping to limit exposure to Injection related diseases like Hepatitis and HIV. At adequate doses, methadone’s gradual, long-lasting effects eliminate opioid withdrawal and craving, unlike the rapid ups and downs of short-acting opioids, which lead to strong cravings for more drugs. Daily drug seeking becomes unnecessary and the blocking effect of methadone will make other Opioids undesirable. Once a stable dose is reached, it will not take increasing amounts of medication to achieve the same results. When properly prescribed and monitored by experienced medical staff, methadone is safe and effective with minimal side effects.
The main goals of methadone maintenance treatment are:
- Eliminate withdrawal
- Eliminate cravings
- Block the effects of other opioids (heroin or prescription pain medication)
HOW SAFE IS METHADONE?
There are many myths about methadone. These myths are perpetuated by misinformed people and create stigma. The stigma associated with substance abuse treatment in general and methadone treatment specifically, often prevents those in need of help to seek treatment.
The following is a list of some common myths associated with Methadone treatment:
Myth: Methadone damages the body and rots teeth.
Fact: People have been taking methadone for over 40 years and there has been no scientific evidence that long-term methadone usage causes any physical damage. Many on methadone experience minor side effects such as constipation or increased sweating. None of which are life threatening. These side effects typically diminish over time or can be reduced by changing the dose of methadone or simple interventions like dietary changes. We encourage you to speak with the medical staff regarding any symptoms you might experience.
Myth: Methadone is worse for you then street opiates.
Fact: Methadone is prescribed by a physician and administered by licensed nurses. Methadone is a pure substance produced in a laboratory. Heroin, a typical street opiate, is not produced in a regulated environment and is often "cut" with harmful additives that are used to produce the drug.
Myth: Methadone harms your liver.
Fact: Although the liver metabolizes methadone, methadone does not harm the liver. Methadone is much easier for the liver to metabolize than many other types of medications. People with hepatitis or liver disease can take methadone safely. While it is true that many patients on methadone have hepatitis or liver disease, this is likely a result of prolonged use of illicit and / or prescription drugs and inadequate medical care prior to treatment.
Myth: Methadone is absorbed by bone marrow, rots the teeth and depletes calcium
Fact: Methadone has been used in the treatment of opioid-dependency for more than forty years and millions of patients. Many drug-dependent persons neglect dental care before, and even after, entering addiction treatment. Any damage to their teeth has nothing to do with methadone and can be corrected with proper dental treatment. Poor nutrition is the most likely cause of calcium deficiency.
The effects of methadone on the health of those persons has probably been studied more thoroughly than for any other medication in all of medicine. Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek, MD, one of the best known and leading researchers in the field of methadone maintenance has summed up the findings:
"The most important medical consequence of ongoing methadone treatment, in fact, is the marked improvement in general health and nutritional status observed in patients as compared with the status at time of admission to treatment. Most medical complications observed in methadone maintenance patients are either related to ongoing preexisting chronic disease, especially chronic liver disease, the onset of which occurred prior to entry into methadone treatment, or to coexisting new diseases or illnesses or to ongoing polysubstance or alcohol use”. In short, people actually grow healthier in methadone maintenance treatment. Just how healthy depends on their condition before treatment and how they take care of themselves during treatment. Persons with certain medical conditions may feel body or bone aches and pains. Sometimes this is due to just getting older. However, such afflictions often go unnoticed during a stressful life of opioid addiction. Once the person starts generally feeling better in recovery, those aches and pains may be more noticeable, but they are not due to methadone.
[Source: Kreek, MJ Health consequences associated with the use of methadone, In: Cooper JR Altman F. Brown; BS, Czechowicz D (eds.) Research on the Treatment of Narcotic addiction: State of the Art (NIDA Research Monograph 83-1201). Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse: 1983}
HOW LONG WILL I NEED TO BE ON METHADONE?
How long any one person needs to be in Methadone Maintenance Treatment differs from one person to the next, however time in treatment is a critical factor for ongoing addiction recovery. Typically, methadone-maintained patients must attend a treatment program every day to receive their oral dose of methadone; however, stable and compliant patients are usually allowed to eventually take home a number of doses, thus reducing their clinic visits. Appropriate psychosocial counseling and other support services are integral components of ongoing MMT.
Much of the research has shown that patients treated for fewer than 3 months in MMT generally show little or no improvement. Studies have routinely demonstrated reductions in illicit opioid use of up to 80% or more after several months, with the greatest reductions for patients who remain in treatment for more than one year.
WHAT DOSE OF METHADONE MIGHT I NEED?
What dose you need is completely individualized. What dose works for one person might not work for you. Since each person has his/her own individual metabolism, your dose will be carefully adjusted by a medical professional to meet your needs.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS METHADONE MAINTENANCE TREATMENT?
The success of methadone in reducing crime, death, disease and illicit drug use is well documented.
Methadone is the most effective treatment for opiate addiction. Compared to other major drug treatment modalities (e.g., drug free out-patient treatment, therapeutic communities and chemical dependency treatment) methadone is the most rigorously studied and has yielded the best results.
Methadone is effective in HIV/AIDs prevention
Methadone maintenance treatment reduces the frequency of injecting and of needle sharing. Methadone treatment provides an important point of contact with health care professionals and opportunities to teach harm reduction techniques such as how to prevent HIV/AIDs, hepatitis and other health problems that endanger drug users.
Methadone treatment reduces criminal behavior Drug offense arrests decline because methadone patients reduce or stop buying and selling illegal drugs. Arrests for other crimes decline because methadone patients no longer need to finance costly opiate addiction and because treatment allows many patients to stabilize their lives and return to legitimate employment.
HOW MUCH METHADONE IS PRESCRIBED?
Medication levels are individually determined due to differences in metabolism, body weight and opiate tolerance. The proper maintenance dose is one at which narcotic craving is averted without creating euphoria, sedation or analgesia for 24 to 36 hours.
HOW LONG DOES METHADONE TREATMENT TAKE?
The duration of treatment should be individually and clinically determined, and treatment should last for as long as the clinic staff and the individual patient agree is appropriate. Federal and State regulations require annual evaluation of patients to determine whether they should continue in methadone maintenance treatment
WHAT ARE THE COMMON PRESCRIPTION OPIATES THAT METHADONE TREATMENT CAN TREAT?
The most common opiate prescription drugs include Morphine, Codeine and the prescription narcotic pain relievers like Codeine, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet, Dilaudid, Demerol. Fentanyl, Fioricet, Fiorinal, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, Percodan, Roxicodone.
Please contact us for your enhanced treatment services of methadone maintenance treatment in the states Rhode Island ( RI ), and near by Massachusetts ( MA ) and Connecticut ( CT ).