What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication used to treat chronic pain, but it is primarily utilized in treating opioid addiction. Methadone is regulated by the DEA and is only administered for addiction treatment through an approved opioid treatment program (OTP). Methadone is a full agonist opioid, meaning that it acts similarly to other opioids by fully activating the receptors in the brain.
How Does Methadone Work?
Methadone attaches fully to the opioid receptors in the brain and, at an appropriate dose, does not create the euphoria or "high" illicit opioids create. It does eliminate the physical withdrawal symptoms felt when opioids are no longer present in the system of the individual using the drugs. This is critical in controlling the cravings that cause relapse early in recovery for so many. When withdrawals and cravings are controlled, individuals can focus on addressing the causes of addiction and repairing the damage done to their lives. Additionally, methadone has some opioid-blocking properties, limiting the effect of other opioids used while methadone is present.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), along with evidence-based behavioral treatment, are the most effective ways to improve the chances of long-term recovery from opioid abuse. One of the most commonly used medications in MAT for opioid addiction is methadone.
Methadone is a long and slow-acting opioid used to treat heroin addiction or addiction to other opioids. It has been used since the 1950s to treat addictions to heroin and, more recently, other opioids. It is helpful for those with opioid addiction to ward off the most difficult withdrawal symptoms helping to prevent relapse.
Methadone is a prescription medication that must first be given by a doctor in either a tablet or liquid form. Most people are taking methadone to utilize a methadone clinic. Our clinics do the initial medical assessment, administer the first dose and provide daily dosing beyond that. Many times people who either have an opioid use disorder themselves or have a loved one with an addiction to opioids wonder about the best way to stop using opioids and how methadone clinics work.
Methadone clinics are established solely for the purpose of dispensing medications used in medically assisted drug therapy treatments. Often what is referred to as a 'methadone clinic' also provides other medications such as Suboxone and naltrexone.
Most individuals on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) need to have daily doses and are closely monitored for a period of time determined by state and federal regulations. After this initial period, most are able to then visit their methadone clinic on a daily basis for at least six months to get their daily dose. If an individual complies with the clinic's expectations and their individual treatment plan, they may be permitted to take home supplies for a few days or, in some cases, weeks.
It's vital to stay on the prescribed amount of methadone consistently and adhere to all the protocols established, as this is how methadone clinics work at being successful in helping those with addiction issues work towards long-lasting recovery. Research has shown that when a person stays on MAT for one year or more, there are positive lifestyle changes, including a reduction in criminal behaviors and transmission of disease.
If you or someone you love is living with an addiction to an opioid, alcohol, or another substance, it's important to know that there is help. There are people who understand and have been where you are, too. Taking the first step toward getting addiction treatment is often the most difficult one.
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