Methadone addiction treatment is sometimes necessary for people who have used methadone during the treatment of a drug dependency such as heroin addiction. Methadone is a synthetic opiate prescribed by physicians as a replacement drug for other opiates like heroin, but may also be administered to treat other types of addiction.
Methadone shares the same characteristics as other opiate drugs and as a result, it can be just as addictive. When it is used to replace opiates like Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Percocet, it is possible for the patient to replace the original addiction with a methadone addiction.
Did You Know?
Opiates like methadone cause a physical dependence as your body becomes tolerant to the drug. When your body builds a tolerance to methadone, this means that you require more and more of the drug to prevent or avoid symptoms of withdrawal. Over time, the amount of methadone required to achieve the same effect continually increases. The amount of time it takes for a person to become addicted to, or dependent on methadone varies, but medically-supervised methadone addiction treatment is often the most effective method used to stop using the drug no matter how severe or mild the level of addiction is.
The necessity of methadone addiction treatment is determined by medical professionals based on the presence of a number of signs and symptoms that indicate an addiction or dependence on the drug has formed. These signs and symptoms appear in several forms, but typically methadone addiction symptoms will include at least one of the following:
- Lying to doctors about withdrawal symptoms to convince them to prescribe a higher dose of methadone
- Mixing methadone with alcohol or other drugs to achieve a better high
- Taking more methadone than prescribed, or using the drug more often than recommended by your physician
- Using methadone while continuing to use the drug that you were initially given methadone to stop using
While the effects of methadone are not as intense or extensive as other opiate drugs, methadone does affect the pleasure centers of your brain, creating a feeling of well-being and removing the negative feelings of withdrawal. A patient may use methadone in the same manner they used heroin or other drugs to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.
Psychological Signs of Methadone Addiction
Psychological and physical methadone addictions have different characteristics. While the above signs are related to the physical addiction, and often only visible to the user, there are several more obvious symptoms that are caused by the psychological addiction to methadone. These are primarily behavioral in nature, and similar to a general addiction to other drugs, and also to gambling, sex, or alcohol. Psychological signs of methadone addiction may include one or more of the following:
- Lack of (or reduced) interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Mood swings
- Inexplicable hostility or aggression
- Secretive behavior, which may include unexplained (or poorly explained) absences from work or school
- Stealing or borrowing money
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Reduced interest, or a complete lack of interest, in appearance and personal hygiene
Did You Know?
Although many patients believe that long-term use of methadone is not as harmful as their addiction to other drugs, methadone addiction treatment is critical to stop use and avoid the potential complications caused by long-term methadone use. These potential problems often include one or more of the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive sweating
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Decreased sex drive
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Itching and/or skin rashes
- Body aches
- Tooth decay
The Detoxification Process
The first step in methadone addiction treatment is detox. Methadone detoxification occurs when the patient ceases or reduces the dosage of methadone in order to stop using the drug. This cessation results in methadone withdrawal symptoms which can vary from moderate to severe or intense. Withdrawal symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Chills, which may be accompanied by goose bumps
- Increased blood pressure
- Body pain
- Muscle twitching
Methadone withdrawal symptoms typically last from four to six weeks, depending on the duration and level of methadone addiction. Later, less severe symptoms can include chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dilated pupils. Methadone detoxification can be carried out using gradual or traditional detox, or a procedure called rapid detox.
“Methadone detoxification can be carried out using gradual or traditional detox, or a procedure called rapid detox.”
Gradual methadone detox slowly cuts back the dosage of methadone give to the patient until usage of the drug is stopped entirely. Typically this method is carried out in an outpatient treatment facility, and there is little or nothing done to treat the patient’s withdrawal symptoms. This approach is not the most effective unless carried out in an inpatient methadone addiction treatment program, where the patient is monitored around the clock and treated by medical personnel.
Rapid detox is a procedure typically carried out in an inpatient treatment facility. Methadone addiction treatment that utilizes rapid detox administers a general anesthetic to sedate the patient during the first hours of detox. This sedation typically lasts about an hour and the methadone withdrawal symptoms are eliminated or significantly reduced. Following the sedation, the patient’s physical and emotional well-being is closely monitored by doctors and therapists in order to ensure they are ready to enter into methadone addiction rehab and recovery.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be acutely uncomfortable, but they are rarely life threatening. Symptoms typically begin within 12 hours of last dose of methadone and begin to abate with 30 hours of the last methadone exposure.
Following detox, an effective methadone addiction treatment program shifts focus from the physical addiction to the psychological addiction through methadone addiction rehab and recovery. A methadone rehab program that is carried in an inpatient drug rehab center often has the best success rate. Typically these programs last at least 90 days and teach the patient to develop healthier ways of dealing with life and the stresses that accompany it. Often, a combination of utilizing an inpatient sober living facility, followed by an inpatient or outpatient recovery methadone addiction treatment program is necessary to ensure that the patient makes a successful transition back into regular life.
Did You Know?
Opioid abuse includes abusing illegal drugs like heroin, as well as prescribed medications such as Oxycontin or Vicodin. Methadone is often prescribed to help treat these addictions, making methadone addiction typically more common.
Depending on where you live, you may have several options for methadone addiction rehab and recovery, but most of these programs can be separated into two categories: inpatient and outpatient care in a private or publicly funded facility.
Inpatient methadone addiction treatment is highly effective because patients are given constant medical care and treatment for both their psychological and physical addictions.
Outpatient methadone addiction treatment provides care in a rehab facility, but the patient does not remain there around the clock. In most cases, you would visit the facility daily or weekly, but reside at home for the duration of treatment. This may be an effective methadone addiction treatment option in later stages of methadone rehab, but may not be effective in the early days of recovery.
An effective methadone rehabilitation program removes methadone from your body and also from your surroundings. It should also provide treatment for the patterns of behavior and the emotional issues surrounding your addiction. In most methadone addiction treatment facilities, various forms of counseling are provided to achieve this treatment.
What Is One-on-One Counseling?
Individual or one-on-one counseling focuses on the emotional issues underlie the methadone addiction in a private and secure environment. Individual therapy is most helpful when there is co-occurring mental disorder such as anxiety or depression. This type of counseling also provides the patient a chance to privately voice concerns they may not be comfortable sharing with others with a trained counselor or psychiatrist. In an inpatient one-on-one counseling program, patients often have access to a counselor daily if necessary. This may be scaled back as the patient moves through the methadone addiction treatment program and becomes less dependent on the support given by individual counseling.
Behavioral and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
In many inpatient methadone addiction treatment programs, successful rehab includes behavioral therapy that focuses on supplanting unhealthy behaviors with better, healthier ones. This type of therapy utilizes rewards like positive reinforcement, along with rehearsal or practice to help the patient achieve long-term recovery outside of the treatment facility. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches new behavioral patterns as well, but the focus is on the motivations and emotions behind the behavior rather than the physical actions. Essentially this type of methadone addiction treatment attempts to change, or modify the thought processes that led to the addiction or abuse.
The Benefits of Family and Group Therapy
Methadone addiction treatment often requires that family also undergo therapy along with the patient to ensure a successful recovery from methadone addiction. Family members commonly form habits that enable the methadone abuse in order to cope with the patient’s addiction. Family counseling sessions help family members rebuild relationships and focus on healthy behaviors and interactions that do not include enabling.
“Group therapy sessions are run by a qualified counselor or therapist and help the patient realize they are not alone.”
Group therapy provides the patient a safe and private environment where they are able to discuss and then work on their personal addiction issues with peers who share a unique understanding of what they are going through. Group therapy sessions are run by a qualified counselor or therapist and help the patient realize they are not alone. Group counseling provides the patient the opportunity to share their experiences and concerns with other patients who are also undergoing methadone addiction treatment. Group counseling typically occurs at least once a week in the initial stages of methadone rehab and may be scaled back to monthly meetings later in the methadone addiction treatment program.
No matter which type of methadone addiction rehab facility you choose, it is vital to your long term recovery that some form of counseling is provided with your treatment program. In most methadone addiction treatment programs, it is recommended that the patient utilizes a combination of group therapy and one-on-one counseling.
Both group counseling and one-on-one counseling programs encourage honesty from the patient and provide a support system for the patient. They also share the goal of ensuring long term recovery from methadone addiction. Group and one-on-one counseling are often combined in methadone addiction treatment programs to provide the patient with the most support possible during rehab.
The type of methadone addiction treatment program you’ll require will depend on the severity and duration of your addiction. The facility you choose will typically evaluate your situation and then determine the best methadone addiction treatment for your unique circumstances.
Did You Know?
According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), methadone abuse has increased over the last 20 years. This increase may be cause by several factors, including the frequency in which methadone is prescribed for pain relief or drug withdrawal, and the availability of methadone through other avenues.
The most effective methadone rehab option is to seek a private inpatient facility. Private rehab centers are not free, but they offer a high quality of care, just as you’ll find with a public medical facility, but private rehab facilities can often offer a more private, secluded setting.
Both public and private methadone addiction treatment programs offer qualified medical supervision and support during the rehab process, but a private facility can sometimes offer additional privacy and seclusion for patients who wish to keep knowledge of their rehab and recovery limited to their immediate family and friends.
The first step to this long-term recovery is contacting someone for information on how to begin your rehabilitation.
- Modesto-Lowe, V., Brooks, D., & Petry, N. (2010). Methadone Deaths: Risk Factors in Pain and Addicted Populations. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(4), 305–309.
- Chou, R., Weimer, M.B., Dana, T. (2014). Methadone overdose and cardiac arrhythmia potential: Findings from a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society and College on Problems of Drug Dependence clinical practice guideline. The Journal of Pain, 15(4), 338–365.
- Hofmann, S.G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I.J.J., Sawyer, A.T., Fang, A. (2012). The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(5), 427–440.