Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) used for substance use disorders (SUD) and dependence has a high success rate.
Depending on the patient’s condition, body type and the extent of misuse, doctors suggest the use of methadone, naltrexone or buprenorphine. Methadone-assisted treatment, also known as substitution therapy, can help control cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms. When used under medical supervision and as an adjunct to therapy, treatment with methadone is considered safe. As it is a full opioid agonist, people who are on methadone are not likely to get high with other drugs of choice.
Unfortunately, methadone treatment is not as foolproof. While there are obvious advantages, the drug is extremely toxic for the liver and slows down the functioning of the respiratory system. Exercising restraint and caution while administering dosage is vital.
Here are some of the side effects of a carelessly followed treatment:
Increased toxicity: The half-life of drugs is an important determinant in finding how long it would stay in a person’s body. In case the drug is given before it is completely eliminated, there are possibilities of increased toxicity. The half-life of methadone in opioid-tolerant patients is 24 hours and in people who have never been on an opioid before is 55 hours. This means that it takes 24 hours before the toxins can be completely eliminated from the system. According to Dr. Modesto-Lowe, a psychiatrist in Middletown, Connecticut, when it comes to treating opioid abuse with MMT, “start low, go slow” policy is ideal. “Remember the rule of thumb is that half of yesterday’s dose is still circulating in the plasma.”
Respiratory depression: Respiratory depression could lead to a fatal condition known as respiratory arrest. It is characterized by labored breathing, tiredness, sleepiness even during daytime, and depression. Physical symptoms include bluish lips and increased disorientation. Too much of methadone can stop breathing and cause death.
Methadone addiction: As methadone is considered to be one of the best alternatives in treating heroin abuse, it’s hard to understand that it can cause addiction too. Designated as a Schedule II drug, people who use methadone to overcome heroin addiction are more likely to get addicted to it.
Adverse reaction with other drugs: Methadone is a depressant and slows down breathing, therefore, combining it with any drug that has similar effects could be harmful whether it is common benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium. It is also necessary to avoid alcohol and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs while on a methadone treatment plan. One should check with his or her doctor or a health care provider before taking any drug along with methadone.
Though most people are tolerant to methadone, there are certain conditions which make it risky to continue methadone treatment. These are:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). This includes conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma and chronic bronchitis where the drug can adversely affect breathing patterns.
People with low potassium and magnesium levels are not viable recipients of this treatment.
Methadone could be unsafe for patients with prior head injuries, or heart, liver, lungs, kidneys or prostate problems.
Follow-up care is important. It is necessary for the family to report any instance of self-use, side effects, or complications in time.
Finding best treatment program
Before continuing any medical treatment, it is essential to disclose details of any medical condition that a person may have. Though methadone is a potent medication and has proved to be a savior for many who have been struggling for long with heroin or opioid addiction, it is essential to take the medication responsibly and only under medical supervision.
If you or a loved one is addicted to any drug, experts from 247 drug recovery helpline can help you find the right treatment program. Call our 247 drug helpline number 855-441-4405 to locate some the best rehab centers where the focus is on holistic recovery and helping a person regain control of his or her life.