What Is Methadone? How Does It Treat Addiction?

What is Methadone and how is it used to treat opioid addiction? How does Methadone help someone stop using opioids? Methadone allows people to feel normal and not experience withdrawal symptoms from abruptly stopping the use of opioids It has a low potential to cause the euphoric effects of other opioids

Without having the negative effects of recreational doses of opioids, the person is able to concentrate on getting the other aspects of their life in order Over time they are able to reduce, and then eliminate, the methadone to prevent the extreme withdrawal symptoms that so often cause people to fail How does Methadone work in the body? Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to treat opioid withdrawal and increasingly chronic pain Methadone binds to the same “Mu” opioid receptors as heroin and other opioids, but causes less euphoria and respiratory depression With Methadone already filling the receptors, there are fewer places for another opioid to bind

This effect blocks the “high” of any opioids taken after the Methadone, and is used to limit the appeal for someone to relapse and take another opioid Unlike all other strong opioids Methadone is also a NMDA receptor antagonist like ketamine It is believed that the NMDA action of Methadone is what decreases much of the craving for opioids, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms I won’t go into it in this video, but in my opinion the most promising treatment for addiction is another NMDA agonist, Ibogaine Ibogaine is believed to reset the brain's neurotransmitters that cause addiction

How long has Methadone Replacement Therapy been in use? Methadone was discovered in Germany in 1937 In 1964 Methadone was first used to treat opioid addiction in the United States Today there are over 1396 Methadone Maintenance Programs in the the United States serving 254,000 patients a year How long does Methadone last and how often do I have to take it? Methadone has a highly variable half-life of between 15 to 60 hours, and an average half-life of 22 hours Methadone dosing varies significantly from patient to patient depending on metabolism and other factors

There are cases of people with fast metabolisms eliminating Methadone in as few as 4 hours, and those with slow metabolisms taking as long as 130 hours It is this long half-life that allows people to dose only once a day at a local clinic How long do I need to be on Methadone Replacement Therapy? Methadone replacement therapy is typically a long term option For Methadone Substitution Programs, 12 months is considered the minimum for a successful outcome, although some people find it beneficial to stay on them for years 20% of those who start a Methadone maintenance program will find themselves still participating 10 years later

Is Methadone Replacement Therapy just swapping one drug for another? Many people mistakenly believe that Methadone and other Opioid Replacement Therapy medications are only replacing one drug for another This is a lack of understanding of how opioids work in the brain This isn’t a lack of character or willpower that makes people into addicts Opioids take control of the brain's reward system, the neurotransmitter dopamine Dopamine is normally used to reward the person doing things necessary for survival like eating, sleeping, and procreation

Opioids, and most other addictive drugs, hijack this reward mechanism and use it to force them to use more of the drug If you would like to know more about how addiction is formed in the brain, then watch my video “How Does Opioid Addiction Work?” by selecting the card in the top right of the screen Anyone thinking opioid abuse is an issue of willpower would quickly realize their mistake, if they ever used an opioid for an extended period of time Let’s try to answer a few common questions about Methadone and Methadone Replacement Therapy before making the decision to go to rehab or ask your doctor about it How long does Methadone withdrawal last when stopped abruptly? A major downside to opioids with long half-life’s like Methadone is the long period of time it takes to get out of your system and for the withdrawal symptoms to stop

If Methadone is not slowly tapered down, withdrawal symptoms will start about 30 hours after the last dose, last about 3 to 6 weeks, and gradually start improving after day 10 The higher the dose the longer the tapering period needed to prevent withdrawal symptoms Some people need years to properly taper themselves off of Methadone How often do I need to visit the clinic for medication? Methadone treatment usually requires visiting a local clinic once a day to receive the medication Over time some patients are allowed to take home small doses of medicine

Being in Methadone treatment can chain someone to the local area of their treatment, because they can’t go to just any clinic This makes it difficult to travel to visit friends or family, travel for work, or travel for vacation The need to return daily to the clinic can also cause stress from the process of getting there, or from the thought of not being able to make it there Do Methadone Replacement Programs kick you out if you relapse? Many Methadone programs have a zero tolerance policy to participants who relapse and use heroin or other opioids again I think this is a terrible policy that doesn’t help anyone

Someone relapsing needs more help, not less There are also cases of people being denied medication because of an issue with their insurance, or because they didn’t have the money to pay for the current weeks treatment Make sure you check into the Methadone clinic before accepting treatment there Find out about the rules, and how they would treat you in these situations A good clinic will work with you on payments, and not just cut you off

Can you get “High” taking Methadone? There seems to be a lot of debate about whether or not Methadone can get someone “high” Methadone is less euphoric than other opioids, but if the dose is raised too quickly it can cause euphoria like heroin, morphine, and other opioids The key to Methadone treatment is a consistent dose, that is sized just right for the individual In the beginning of Methadone treatment, while the correct dose is being determined, you may feel some euphoria, but it will quickly go away It needs to be a large enough dose to prevent cravings and withdrawal symptoms,but small enough to prevent euphoria

If you take the exact same dose consistently over a relatively short period of time, the feelings of euphoria will diminish to nothing Is Methadone Safe? Methadone is generally safe when taken are directed by a doctor, but can be much more dangerous than other opioids when abused With other opioids the negative effects, such as respiratory depression, last the same time as the effects they are seeking like the “high” Immediately after taking an opioid like heroin is when the user is at the highest risk of overdose The “high” and the danger are tied together

This is dangerously not the case with Methadone The pain killing effect and the “high” will typically only last for 4 to 6 hours after taking Methadone, but the other effects like respiratory depression will last for several days If someone is dosing based on how they feel, they could easily take too much and die from respiratory depression This increase in negative effects is called stacking This makes it vitally important to take the same dose consistently

This video provided information about using Methadone as part of an Opioid Substitution Program In addition to using Methadone for opioid substitution, there is another newer medication called Suboxone I think Suboxone is a much safer medication that should always be used instead of Methadone, unless there is a specific medical reason There is a link to a video on Suboxone in the cards in the top right corner of the screen or in the video description below SubLike

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