How Do Methadone Doctors Determine My Dosage?

Whether battling a heroin or prescription pain pill addiction, overcoming the damaging effects of opiates can take considerably longer than expected. Without some form of physical support, many recovering addicts have little chance of maintaining abstinence for the long-term.

Methadone, commonly used to treat opiate addiction, has been a go-to treatment for people who’ve had little to no success with standard drug treatment programs. Because of its classification as a Schedule II controlled substance, only authorized methadone doctors can administer the drug.

Dosage determinations can vary depending on the stage of treatment. Methadone doctors continually assess a person’s physical responses to the drug and make adjustments accordingly.

Methadone’s Mechanism of Action

methadone help

Your doctor will carefully decide what dosage strength is best for you.

Withdrawal effects and drug cravings pose the two biggest challenges recovering addicts face in recovery. The effects from long-term opiate use leave brain chemical processes unable to carry out normal functions for months or even years after a person stops using.

Methadone, a synthetic opiate medication, supports damaged brain functions by producing some of the same effects as abusive opiate drugs. Methadone doctors can use methadone’s effects to support damaged brain processes and restore normal brain functioing. Unlike other opiate-type drugs, methadone does not produce the “high” effect that drives addictive behaviors.

Initial Dosing

With long-term opiate use, addicts develop unusually high tolerance levels to opiate drugs. Since methadone is also an opiate, doctors must first gauge a person’s current tolerance level in order to determine the initial methadone dosage amount, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine.

On average, initial daily dosages should not exceed 20 milligrams unless a person has an extremely high tolerance level. From there, methadone doctors adjust daily dosage amounts based on the degree of withdrawal and cravings a person experiences.

Dosage Adjustments

Keeping withdrawal and drug craving effects at a minimum becomes the overall goal of daily methadone dosing. Methadone doctors must also watch for any signs of sedation along the way.

In effect, when dosage amounts run too low, a person will experience drug cravings and withdrawal effects. When dosage amounts run too high, a person will feel overly sedated.

With these considerations in mind, methadone doctors must find the dosage level amount that keeps cravings and withdrawal effects in check without causing a person to feel sedated.

Dosage Frequency

Methadone should produce slow-acting effects in order for patients to experience the full therapeutic benefits of the drug. The rate at which the body metabolizes methadone determines how slowly or quickly its effects will occur.

As other types of medication can affect a person’s metabolism rate, dosage frequencies may need to be adjusted in cases where a person takes medications for other conditions. The same holds true in the case of pregnancy, since a woman’s metabolism rates can change as the pregnancy progresses.

While methadone is intended to be taken on a daily basis, methadone doctors can adjust dosage frequencies to twice daily in cases where a person takes other medications or in cases of pregnancy. Considering how important it is to find the right methadone dosage amounts, the best treatment outcomes tend to occur when a person keeps the lines of communication open with his or her methadone doctor.