Using Methadone in Medication-Assisted Treatment

Using Methadone in Medication-Assisted Treatment

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

The number of cases of opioid addiction in the U.S. has increased dramatically in just the last decade. With the immense toll that opioids can take on the mind and body, it can be essential to use medication-assisted treatment (MAT) during the detox process. You can talk with your doctor or a detox specialist to find the right fit for you. MAT can be a vital part of a successful treatment plan. One of the treatments that is often used is methadone.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

As the name implies, MAT involves using medications to help manage pain or withdrawal symptoms. The medications used to treat substance abuse are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for supervised use with a trained professional.

If you are addicted to opiates, taking prescribed medications to taper off of them can provide you with the regulation your body and mind need. Oftentimes detox is the first step toward recovery, and our staff at First Steps Recovery are here to guide your treatment with compassion and expertise. Once you are free of opiates and past the withdrawal stage, the rest of your treatment will be easier to manage.

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is one of several treatment options available for addiction recovery and detox from opiates. As a potent medication for pain management and detox, methadone requires direct monitoring from a detox specialist. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), methadone is generally available in liquid or powder form. Detoxing from methadone is safe when you are following the guidance of a licensed detox specialist.

Methadone and Pregnancy

Despite its strength, methadone is highly effective for addiction treatment and recovery. Methadone is safe to use under supervision while pregnant without posing risk for birth defects. However, it is still helpful to monitor your and your child’s health and behavior after treatment.

Because there are many known risks of substance abuse for a developing child, methadone detox treatment is a desirable alternative option. It’s always important to note that when you take methadone as prescribed, you are less likely to experience any negative effects.

Is Methadone Safe for Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Although methadone is a safe option when prescribed and monitored by a professional, there are a few caveats. For one thing, it is possible to develop a dependency on methadone when the medication isn’t taken as prescribed.

Staying safe while using methadone requires:

  • Following your prescriber’s directions and taking the correct dosage
  • Not sharing your medication
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption
  • Being careful when driving or operating machinery and equipment
  • Monitoring your symptoms and being honest with your provider if any side effects arise

Being transparent with your detox specialist is a major part of avoiding dependency on any medication. If you or a loved one suspects you are having an adverse reaction to methadone treatment, contact your healthcare provider for immediate assistance.

Side Effects of Methadone in Medication-Assisted Treatment

When you are aware of how your medication is affecting you, it is best to communicate these concerns and changes with your provider. Together, you can troubleshoot any issues with your dosage and carefully adjust your care plan.

The aforementioned SAMHSA article notes the following possible side effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin issues like itching, rash, swelling, and heavy sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Increased heart rate or chest pain
  • Hallucinations or confusion
  • Feeling faint

As these symptoms range in severity, it is essential to keep an open dialogue with your provider so that you can receive well-rounded and effective treatment.

What Makes Methadone Effective When Used in Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Much like any other opioid, methadone presents the possibility of dependency. You are more likely to abuse this substance without the right professional support to prescribe and monitor your dosing.

Methadone has been around for quite some time. As stated in the book on methadone and buprenorphine by the National Institute for Health Research (NIRH), studies have shown that there is great promise with the alternative treatment medication called buprenorphine. However, when compared with buprenorphine in these medical trials, individualized dosages of methadone appeared to be more effective in long-term treatment.

This study did find that either medically-assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine was much better than no drug therapy at all. Both medications decrease exposure to infections, overdose, and other risks of substance abuse. Ultimately, it is best to work alongside a detox specialist to address your unique circumstances. A detox specialist will be able to help you make the most informed decision for your treatment plan.

Post-treatment Usage

However, according to the previously mentioned SAMHSA article, it is possible that you can eventually take methadone on your own after meeting specific criteria. Your healthcare provider will continue to keep an eye on your health and your response to methadone.

Our goal is to help you wean off of substances altogether. Strategically using methadone during detox and treatment can be a gateway to long-lasting recovery from opioid abuse. The right specialist can assist you with obtaining this freedom. At First Steps Recovery, our carefully selected staff members offer genuine compassion and reliable support every step of the way.

When facing personal challenges, reaching out for help can feel like the last thing you want to do. Considering the stigma around addiction, it can be even harder to seek out the right treatment to improve your health. However, when you do reach out for and accept help, it can be life-changing. It’s important to find compassionate and trustworthy care coordinators to administer and manage your healthcare. At First Steps Recovery, we offer compassionate and informative care that makes healing possible. Our greatest mission is to connect our clients with the healthcare resources and support that puts them at ease. We will be here to support you on your healing journey. Contact us at (844) 489-0836 to schedule a consultation. 

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