Methadone can be a life-saving drug for many addicts in recovery who are detoxing from a high-dose heroin addiction. The drug, when prescribed in measured doses and administered by a certified medical professional, can allow patients to get off the rollercoaster ride of addiction and begin to create a new life for themselves that is defined by balance and healthier version of normal life.
Unfortunately, methadone is also an addictive drug itself. Patients who are prescribed the medication in its pill form for the purposes of managing pain may ultimately develop a dependence upon the drug, and even those who are using it in an attempt to overcome an opiate addiction may abuse it and end up maintaining an ongoing addiction.
In either case, if the patient attempts to stop taking the drug abruptly or cuts his dose significantly, withdrawal symptoms could begin within a few hours. The best solution may be a professional detox program that offers everything necessary to get through these withdrawal symptoms as safely and efficiently as possible.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms: What to Expect
Each patient is different, and the nature of the withdrawal symptoms one person experiences as compared to someone else will vary based on:
- The methadone dose he is taking at the time of detox
- Other drugs he is taking concurrently
- Underlying mental health disorders or symptoms
- Whether or not medication maintenance is used
Methadone withdrawal symptoms may include any combination of the following at varying intensity levels:
- Runny nose
- Lack of appetite
- Diarrhea and cramping
- Watery eyes
- Irritability and anxiety
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Goose bumps
- Aching muscles
- Increased pain sensitivity
These symptoms usually begin within the first 12 hours after the last methadone dose and continue for weeks, unless medication is utilized.
Medication Maintenance and Detox
Because methadone is often a medication used in medication maintenance for opiate detox, it may or may not be appropriate for a patient who is addicted to the drug to take it in more controlled doses in a more controlled setting. In some cases, buprenorphine may be an option; another long-term maintenance medication approved for the treatment of opiate addiction, it may help the patient to better manage his opiate dependence and more quickly step down his dose until he is completely drug-free.
In other cases, it may be more appropriate to use medication that is non-addictive to address the specific withdrawal symptoms that are most overwhelming. For example, non-addictive sleep aids may help to treat insomnia caused by detox while other medications may treat diarrhea, runny nose and other symptoms. Though this path will not eliminate the discomfort associated with withdrawal symptoms entirely, it may serve to make them more manageable as the person works toward becoming drug-free on a shorter timetable.
Which Methadone Detox Path Is Right for Your Loved One?
Depending upon your addicted loved one’s specific circumstances as well as his goals for his recovery and the timeline he envisions for himself in getting back on his feet at work and home, different detox choices may be more or less appropriate.
Speaking with a medical professional who specializes in the treatment of addiction can help get things started, and a professional medical detox is absolutely indispensible in the event that your loved one experiences withdrawal symptoms, no matter what his drug of choice is. Contact us at Michael’s House today to learn more about what your loved one can expect in detox and beyond. We can help.