How to help a methadone addict?

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.

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If you have a problem with methadone abuse, dependency or addiction, quitting this opioid painkiller can be a difficult and painful journey. Living with a methadone addict friend or loved one can also be very stressful.

But how can you help your methadone addict friend or loved one? Are there any ways in which you can assist during their methadone treatment? We explore the ways you can help a person who’s experiencing a methadone addiction and suggest adequate treatment options, here. Then, we invite your questions or comments at the end. In fact, we do our best to respond to all legitimate inquiries with a personal and prompt response.

Help a methadone addict quit

First, you need to understand what a methadone addict is going through. Methadone addicts are constantly riding an emotional roller coaster and going through psychological and physical changes. So, it’s important that you keep this in mind in order to avoid any kind of judgement.

You need to be honest and patient when you approach an addict. If you feel unable to talk with your loved one, you can seek the assistance of a professional. In case you decide to confront the addict about their methadone addiction, you might want to check up the following tips before you get started:

  • Always approach a methadone addict when s/he is sober.
  • Be calm and don’t loose your temper during the conversation.
  • Try not to be judgemental and avoid giving criticism.
  • Be compassionate and honest, show that you care and have understanding about their condition.
  • Consider staging an intervention.

Then, hopefully, your methadone addicted loved one will accept help and enter a treatment program. Once in the hands of medical professionals, s/he will receive a comprehensive and structured care throughout the rehabilitation period. However, your help in the form of support and motivation is always welcome.

Help methadone addict friend

It’s widely known that addiction does not exist in isolation. It always occurs a part of a wider context which can include family members, friends and other loved ones. This is why it’s absurd to address a person’s addiction without taking into consideration the context in which it operates. Most residential treatment programs for methadone addiction know the importance of emotional support and include family members whenever possible.

Psychological interventions are a central part of an individual psychotherapy in the rehabilitation counseling during methadone treatment. Some patients require a longer assistance in order to continue living normally and drug free. An individual psychotherapy focuses on:

  1. Discussing aspects of the person’s life which are not working properly (inability to keep a job, involvement in illegal activities, family neglecting)
  2. Focusing on the changes in the person’s behavior
  3. Helping the person in recovery to achieve and maintain abstinence
  4. Reduction or total cessation of methadone use

Brief interventions or one-on-one counseling sessions can also help people reduce or stop methadone abuse. These counselling sessions can be given in a few minutes and they require minimal followup. Brief interventions can help determine if people can stop or reduce their drug use on their own. They act as a method to change specific behaviors before or during treatment. According to a study from NCBI a brief intervention is consisted of five basic steps:

  1. Introducing the issue in the context of the client’s health
  2. Screening, evaluating, and assessing
  3. Providing feedback
  4. Talking about change and setting goals
  5. Summarizing and reaching closure

Self help for methadone addiction

Methadone is one of the hardest drugs to quit. Coming off methadone without the help of a detox clinic or a specialized treatment program might be very tricky. However, it is not impossible!

Yet, it is almost never recommended to go cold turkey off methadone. When you plan to quit you should follow an extremely slow and gradual tapering schedule. Otherwise the withdrawal symptoms can get very uncomfortable. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you decrease 10% of your daily dose every 1-2 weeks until you reach 1/3 of the original dose. When you reach this point, you can begin tapering methadone at half the previous rate. Also while tapering consider not to go faster than 5 mg per week. In case you experience significant withdrawal symptoms, then it’s best to report this to your doctor and perhaps stop tapering.

During methadone withdrawal, you can help yourself by:

  • avoiding sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates
  • eating plenty of high quality protein foods
  • drinking plenty of water
  • consuming lots of fresh fruits, veggies and healthy fats
  • exercising to improve mood, increase energy levels and boost confidence

NOTE: If you consume 20-30 grams of protein three times per day you will gradually increase your endorphins and other mood enhancing chemicals in the brain.

Get help for methadone addiction

If you feel that you can’t make it on your own, you can seek one or many of the following professionals for help with your methadone addiction:

  • a physician
  • addiction support groups
  • addiction treatment centers
  • detox clinics
  • clinical psychiatrists
  • clinical psychologists
  • licensed clinical social workers
  • trusted religious or spiritual leaders

Helping a methadone addict questions

Still wondering in what ways you can approach and help a methadone addict? Please, send us your questions. We will try to get back to you with a personal response as soon as possible.

Reference sources: NCBI: The relevance of the psychological evaluation in drug dependence
NCBI: Brief Interventions in Substance Abuse Treatment
NCBI: Evidence Based Psychosocial Interventions in Substance Use
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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