Methadone is an opioid agonist, which means that it triggers the same receptors in the brain that other opioids like hydrocodone, heroin, and oxycodone do. This substance has proven to be highly effective at weaning individuals off of other drugs and is considered a staple in many treatment centers throughout the country. When methadone is utilized in the treatment of an addicted individual, that individual can experience much less severe withdrawal symptoms, making the detox process more manageable. However, methadone is only effective in this manner when it is taken in appropriate doses that have been provided by a medical professional.
Like many other substances, when methadone is abused, it can become addictive. Methadone is not nearly as accessible as other opioid-based substances, like heroin and prescription painkillers. As a result, many people who develop an addiction to methadone do so while receiving this medication for maintenance purposes. The longer that methadone is utilized for maintenance, the more likely an individual becomes to developing an addiction to it. Additionally, many healthcare providers prescribe methadone to help treat physical injuries, cancer, and even multiple sclerosis due to its long-acting abilities. Those recipients of this substance can abuse it just as easily as they would other opioid-based medications, leading to addiction.
While many people might think that methadone is a safe medication to consume because of the manner in which it is usually prescribed, it can be just as addictive as other substances. Sadly, those who abuse methadone are at risk for experiencing several different symptoms that can impact their psychological, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Symptoms Of Methadone Addiction
When someone is abusing methadone, he or she can easily begin to experience a multitude of different side effects. Not every person who is abusing methadone will have the same symptoms, however, they might experience a combination of the following:
- Clammy, bluish skin
- Blue tint around lips and fingers
- Extreme fatigue
- Problems sleeping
- Muscle cramps and/or pain
- Physical pain
More severe symptoms of methadone addiction include coma, irregular heartbeat, anaphylactic reactions, and death.
When methadone is utilized appropriately, it can help minimize some of the symptoms listed above when someone is experiencing withdrawal. However, when methadone is abused, the side effects listed above can develop and persist to the point where others might begin noticing.
Effects Of Methadone Addiction
As methadone addiction continues, the individual who is abusing this substance is not only going to start displaying symptoms of this type of drug abuse, but the effects of that abuse are going to begin to show and potentially begin impacting his or her life.
In addition to the symptoms that an individual can experience under the influence of methadone, the effects that this substance can cause can lead to the following:
- Behavioral changes
When an addiction is present, an individual can easily start to develop significant behavioral changes as a result. As a methadone addiction persists, an individual might begin having significant mood swings that change rapidly, become irritable and agitated, isolate him or herself from others, or lose interest in previously enjoyed activities. In addition to these behaviors, someone addicted to methadone might also become deceptive about his or her whereabouts, as well as defensive when questioned about methadone use.
Tolerance occurs when an individual begins requiring more and more of an abused substance to achieve the desired high. When someone is abusing methadone and goes from needing a small amount to a larger amount to get high, then that serves as a signal that he or she has developed a tolerance for the substance.
Sadly, the more tolerant an individual becomes to a substance, the more likely he or she is to suffer from an overdose, which can be deadly. The more methadone that is consumed the more of it the body has to process. And, when the body is unable to process high amounts of methadone, an overdose can occur.
- Prioritizing methadone
Those who are addicted to methadone might begin putting their abuse of this substance above all else within their lives. This means that they might begin slacking off at work because they are preoccupied with when they can use next, or become distracted behind the wheel because they are rushing to get their hands on their next dose of methadone. Or, an individual might neglect family responsibilities, including doing household chores, showing up for children’s sporting events, or tending to the needs of his or her marriage. As a result, relationships can begin to suffer, unemployment can become a possibility, and additional consequences (such as financial problems, homelessness, and legal issues) can develop.
- Withdrawal symptoms
One of the telltale signs of addiction is when an individual starts to experience withdrawal symptoms when his or her use stops or is decreased. Someone who is addicted to methadone and who then quits cold turkey or reduces his or her consumption will suffer withdrawal symptoms that can be noticeable to others. These symptoms can include the following:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Changes in appetite
- Muscle pain
Withdrawal symptoms are easily stopped when the individual abuses methadone again, as the body has become accustomed to its presence. However, when an individual decides to stop his or her methadone use and does it while under professional supervision, these symptoms can be much more manageable.
Getting Help For Methadone Addiction
If you are addicted to methadone, getting professional treatment is the best option, as it can help you safely detox from this medication all while allowing you to address the underlying causes of your addiction.
During treatment for methadone addiction, you will either be slowly tapered off of methadone to help with the withdrawal process, or you might be provided other medications capable of helping you withdraw successfully. One of these medications is buprenorphine (Subutex), which is similar to methadone but is less addictive and can be taken home to help with maintenance. Another medication utilized in methadone treatment is L-alpha-acetylmethadol, or LAAM. LAAM can help an individual gradually come off of methadone, however, it can cause some side effects, such as increased blood pressure and abnormal liver function.
Once detox is completed, you can obtain further treatment that includes different forms of therapy (e.g. individual therapy, group therapy, experiential therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy) that help you identify and address the psychological connections to your methadone addiction. Treatment can help you develop the proper coping skills to manage your sobriety.
If you are addicted to methadone or any other opioid-based substance, know that you are not alone. We can help you work through the challenges that you are facing due to your addiction, and help you find your way into recovery. So, do not wait any longer. Contact us today.