One way to help a methadone addict is to learn how to approach them and to try to convince them to enter treatment. Read more about what to do if your friend or loved one is facing a methadone addiction problem.
Tolerance to and dependence on methadone can develop with chronic or indefinite use. What are some of the other dangers of long term methadone use? We review here.
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Methadone affects the central nervous system by blocking those receptors that produce euphoric and well-being state. Methadone is a synthetic, long-acting opioid with pharmacologic actions similar to morphine. But in addition to pain relief, methadone works by preventing opiate withdrawal symptoms, blocking the euphoric effects of opiates, and minimizing cravings. But what can you expect if you’d like to get off methadone? What’s detox like? We review here and invite your questions about methadone detox at the end.
Methadone detox methods
Detoxification is the process by which you remove a psychoactive drug from your system; it is the process during which the drug leaves the body. During methadone detox, methadone leaves the human system and triggers a set of methadone withdrawal symptoms. The safest way to detox from methadone is in a specialized clinic supervised by a medical staff. However, you can also detox from methadone at home if you have medical approval and are prepared. Here is a list of some popular methadone detox methods:
- Cold turkey methadone detox
- Medically supervised methadone detox
- Self-guided methadone detox
- Tapered methadone detox
Statistically, the rate of relapse is higher in cases of cold turkey detox. Tapered methadone detox – slowly cutting down methadone doses – can manifest less severe symptoms and result in more successful outcomes. Generally, addiction professionals recommend that methadone users should gradually tapered off the drug. The tapered methadone detox doesn’t cause a great shock to the body, and it may minimize the methadone withdrawal symptoms. However, you’ll need an individualized plan for staging dose reduction over time. The most general tapered detox guidelines for methadone include:
- First, lower the dose by 20-50 % per day until you come to 30 mg daily methadone use.
- Then, lower the dose by 5 mg per day every 3-5 days to reach 10 mg daily methadone use.
- At the end, lower the dose by 2.5 mg per day every 3-5 days.
Methadone detox protocol
Methadone detoxification is a set of intervention designed to manage methadone withdrawal symptoms and intoxication. The core purpose of all detoxes is to intoxicate the body from the drug and to ease withdrawal symptoms. You must remember that detox in only the first step in treating possible addiction to methadone. In order to be properly assessed, diagnosed and treated the whole process of detoxification is best managed in special detox clinics where addicts are observed by specially trained medical staff.
Generally, methadone detox consists of three basic processes:
1. The evaluation process
This process consists of assessment, diagnosis and complete monitoring of a patient’s psychological and physical state in order to manage methadone addiction treatment properly. Moreover, methadone abusers go through different urinalysis and blood tests for establishing levels of methadone in the body to assess dependence.
2. Stabilization process
This process involves many psychological, pharmacological and medical therapies for helping address withdrawal symptoms. Usually, the stabilization process includes the use medications such as buprenorphine, short acting benzodiazepines, or antidepressants. However, to avoid substituting one drug dependence for another, slowly lowering the daily doses, and use of over-the-counter medications is preferred to pharmaceutical treatments.
3. Long-term recovery
The last process of methadone detox prepares methadone abusers for entry into addiction treatment, when necessary. The main treatments address the psychological state of the person by underlining the importance of completing standardized treatment and referring patients to local resources.
Methadone detox considerations
There is no fixed way to detox from methadone. But before doing anything, consult with an addiction professional. Seek guidance from your family doctor, an MD specializing in addiction medicine, or a psychiatrist. These medical professionals can offer you advice on therapies and providers. Below is a list of reminders for people seeking a detox program:
1. Medically supervised detox clinics
Methadone leaves your body during the process of detox. These clinics offer proper medications and 24-7 medical supervision for better stabilization of the patient. Moreover, detox clinics with medical supervision offer continuity of care referrals for addressing addiction issues.
2. Methadone detox at home
Motivation and support are required if you are to detox at home. Also, a doctor’s clearance for health issues is essential. Slowly tapering the daily doses of methadone to the point where the body is methadone-free is suggested, as are home based therapies. It is best to detox from methadone at home only if the environment is supportive.
3. Cold turkey detox
Cold turkey detox is abrupt cessation of the drug. Usually, this detox is not recommended since the risk of relapsing is high. However, in cases of long term or chronic abuse, cold turkey detox may be suggested.
Methadone detoxification questions
If you or someone is dealing with methadone addiction, please share your experience or concern in the section at the end of the page. Also, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. We are willing to help!