bottles of methadone

Dolophine/Methadose (Methadone) Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is a prescription opioid that is typically used by doctors to treat severe pain for long-term, round-the-clock pain relief. It has also been used to help people recover from addiction to heroin and other opioid drugs since 1964. This is referred to as Methadone Maintenance Therapy.

Methadone is generally safe when prescribed by a doctor and used within the confines of a medically-assisted treatment program, but the drug itself can also be very addictive. Many patients who take methadone are required to do so at a medical facility under the supervision of a doctor, although some may be permitted to take it at home.

Methadone works by modifying the way the body responds to pain, reducing the painful symptoms of heroin and opioid withdrawal while also blocking the pleasurable effects of those drugs. It is typically prescribed and consumed in a pill, wafer, or liquid form.

It is often sold under the brand names Dolophine and Methadose and should be taken exactly as prescribed. Since methadone doses are adjusted and tailored to the individual patient, taking someone else’s methadone can be extremely dangerous and may lead to overdose.

Additionally, the active ingredients in methadone stay in the body for long periods of time, even after the effects of the drug have worn off. Therefore, it’s very important to avoid using other medications or taking other drugs that may negatively interact with the methadone.

Slang for Methadone

The following terms are street names or slang for methadone:

  • Amidone
  • Chocolate chip cookies (methadone or heroin combined with MDMA)
  • Fizzies
  • Wafer

What Is A Methadone Clinic?

Methadone clinics are facilities where people who are addicted to opioids, such as prescription painkillers or heroin, can receive methadone treatment under the direct supervision of a doctor. Patients receive methadone (Dolophine) as replacement therapy and it’s administered as a pill, liquid, or wafer. This type of treatment is intended to prevent opioid withdrawal, help decrease opioid cravings, block the effects of illegal opioid drugs, and prevent the need for illegal opioid use so a person can function normally, day to day. Although it is helpful for some people, replacement therapy provided by a methadone clinic is not a cure for addiction problems.

How Common Is Methadone Addiction and Abuse?

In 2013, there were 3.9 million total prescriptions written for methadone and according to findings from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.9 million Americans (ages 12 or older) misused prescription pain relievers in the past year. About 256,000 individuals reported misusing methadone in the past year.

Despite the physical and psychological dangers of abusing prescription drugs like methadone, many people find themselves physically dependent and addicted to their medication.

Methadone is typically prescribed on a long-term basis but it should always be used under the close supervision of a doctor. The misuse of this drug can begin as an intentional or unintentional act and may include:

  • Taking someone else’s methadone prescription
  • Taking an extra dose of methadone
  • Taking methadone with other drugs or alcohol

Although certain risk factors do come into play, anyone can become addicted to methadone. Historically, methadone abuse occurs predominantly among Caucasian individuals, affecting males and females of various age groups. It is also a concern among high school students in the U.S.

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What Are the Side Effects of Methadone Addiction and Abuse?

Common physical signs of methadone abuse may include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Increased pain
  • Slowed breathing

Long-term methadone abuse will affect each person differently, but those who abuse it regularly are at much higher risk of developing respiratory problems, bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis, and sexual dysfunctions.

What Are Common Signs of Methadone Addiction?

Anyone can become addicted to methadone, but those who are undergoing Methadone Maintenance Therapy may be at higher risk for developing an addiction. Some warning signs that a person may be addicted to methadone include:

  • Getting multiple prescriptions for methadone from several doctors (“doctor shopping”)
  • Getting methadone from other sources like friends, co-workers, or drug dealers
  • Taking methadone with other opioid drugs, benzodiazepines, or alcohol
  • Taking more than the recommended amount of methadone (if the patient is permitted to take the drug on their own at home)
  • Skipping doses and saving them for one massive dose later

What Are Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms?

If a person is addicted to methadone and wants to quit, he or she should not just suddenly stop using it. This could result in painful or dangerous methadone withdrawal symptoms. Methadone detox should involve a slow, medically-assisted tapering process that will gradually wean the patient off of the drug.

During methadone withdrawal, a person may experience some of the following physical symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Cravings

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your System?

Evidence shows that methadon’s half-life varies greatly depending on the individual. However, clinical studies show that methadone can stay in your system anywhere from 2 days to 13 days. Although methadone is typically out of your system about two weeks after the last dose, traces of it may still be detectable with drug tests. Below are the approximate methadone detection times for various types of drug tests:

  • Urine tests: 1 hour to 2 weeks after the last dose
  • Saliva tests: 30 minutes to a few days after the last dose
  • Blood tests: 30 minutes to a few days after the last dose

Methadone Detox

An individualized medically-assisted methadone detox program will treat these uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms and provide a safe, tapered withdrawal process for individuals detoxing from methadone.

Medically-assisted detox also reduces the risk of relapse by providing a safe and comfortable place for the patient to get sober under the supervision of nurses, doctors, and therapists. Medical treatment for methadone detox will address the physical and psychological aspects of withdrawal to provide the safest experience possible.

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Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

Methadone withdrawal will not be exactly the same for everyone, but this is a general timeline outlining the symptoms someone may experience.

24-30 hours after the last dose:Cold or flu symptoms may appear, including chills, goosebumps, runny nose, sweating, aches and pains, and insomnia.
1-3 days after the last dose:Withdrawal symptoms are typically the most intense and may include anxiety, agitation, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
4-5 days after the last dose:Most of the intense withdrawal symptoms should have dissipated at this point. Anxiety and cravings may persist for up to two weeks but individuals who develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome may experience mild symptoms for several months following detox.

Long-Term Rehab for Methadone Addiction

Following the completion of methadone detox, a person may choose to enroll in a rehab program to continue to address their methadone addiction. In a methadone rehab program, clients participate in individual and group behavioral therapy, 12-step groups, and learn life skills and coping strategies that will help them stay sober.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, long-term addiction treatment of 90 days or longer will provide the best opportunity for sustained sobriety. Many drug rehab programs only last 30 or 60 days, which may not be enough time for a person to internalize the attitude and behavioral changes required for a lasting emotional and spiritual transformation.

Clients enrolled in drug and alcohol rehab for methadone addiction can expect to experience the following things:

  • Educational lectures on the disease of addiction
  • 12-step program work
  • Relapse prevention
  • Life skills development
  • Time away from triggers and drug-abusing friends to practice be sober

The added addition of peer support in long-term rehab is also highly beneficial, as social engagement, accountability, and peer support are all very important aspects of addiction recovery.

Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab

There are two main types of methadone rehab programs: inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Each type has its own benefits and requirements. The best type of drug rehab for your own methadone addiction recovery will depend on your individual needs.

Inpatient drug rehab programs require clients to live on-site at the rehab center for the entire duration of their treatment program. During this time in methadone rehab, clients room with other people in recovery who are also working their way through a treatment program. Clients must adhere to structured schedules which typically include individual therapy, 12-step group meetings, process groups, mealtime, gym time, and personal quiet time.

Clients enrolled in outpatient methadone rehab programs are required to attend several group sessions each week. These sessions are facilitated by licensed addiction counselors and held at a safe, clinical location. Clients participate in 12-step work, process groups, and educational lectures throughout the course of their treatment program. Outpatient rehab may be ideal for those who cannot commit to living at a rehab center for 90 days or who do not require the structure that inpatient treatment provides.

The overall cost of inpatient or outpatient methadone rehab programs will vary, but clients may have a variety of payment options, including:

  • Health insurance benefits
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Financed healthcare loans
  • Private loans
  • Medical credit cards
  • Scholarships or grants
  • Out-of-pocket payments

If you’re struggling to pay for a methadone treatment program, an admissions representative at Nova Recovery Center can help you explore all of your payment options.

Continued Care Options for Methadone Addiction Treatment

Overcoming drug addiction of any kind is a lifelong process, requiring years of continued treatment. After completing a drug rehab program, some clients may choose to continue their methadone treatment journey by enrolling in a sober living or aftercare program.

Sober Living Programs

Sober living programs are designed to help clients transition from a highly structured methadone rehab program to living an independent sober lifestyle on their own. Transitional living homes provide safe, comfortable, and sober group living environments for men and women in addiction recovery. Often times, enrollment in a sober living program also provides access to additional recovery support services, such as:

  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Education/employment assistance
  • Structured daily schedules
  • Personal monitoring programs
  • Tiered recovery programs
  • Personal guidance from a peer recovery specialist

Costs for transitional living programs will vary based on the type of housing (house or apartment), the location of the sober living home, and any additional outpatient treatment, such as IOP.

Aftercare Programs

An individual who is recovering from addiction may also choose to enroll in an aftercare program, which will provide continued support in recovery. Aftercare is tailored for alumni who have already completed a drug and alcohol rehab program and want a place where they can check-in on a regular basis and engage with other individuals in recovery.

Aftercare programs are comprised of a weekly meeting held at a safe, clinical location. Each session serves as a safe, welcoming, and sober place where clients can be open and honest about their struggles, relapses, or successes in sobriety. Aftercare groups also give clients the opportunity to share learning experiences and receive feedback and/or advice from other people in recovery.

If you’re ready to begin a methadone treatment program and start your recovery journey, a Nova Recovery Center representative is available to help. Call today to get started and learn more about your treatment options.

Nova Recovery Center offers a large range of substance abuse treatment services: detox, residential, outpatient and sober living.

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