Benefits of Using Methadone to Detox from Other Opiates
Opiate dependencies and addictions have been continuously soaring, despite the efforts to control widespread distributions of heroin and the overabundant prescribing practices and diversions involving opiate painkillers. Unfortunately, as the availability of one drug decreases, another one takes its place and many opiate abusers are alternating or switching to the more potent heroin versions as a cheaper and increasingly, more attainable drug.
According to the DEA 2014 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary (NDTS), Opiates are the most common type of controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) abused and “An estimated 1.5 million Americans aged 12 and older used opioid pain relievers non-medically for the first time in 2013, making it the second most initiated illicit drug behind marijuana”, according to the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors – February 2015.
Repeated use of these drugs legitimately or illegitimately can lead to dependency at which time self-administration to avert withdrawals becomes a compulsive and uncontrollable pattern of use. Quitting is difficult no matter how much willpower and motivation the person has to do so and that’s when the benefits of using methadone to detox from other opiates are most notable.
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Normalizing Brain Functions
Opiates are psychoactive substances that occur naturally in the opium poppy plant, such as codeine, morphine, and thebaine; and derivative or semi-synthetic drugs made from these substances including heroin and opioid analgesics, or pain relievers. Methadone and other synthetic opiates like fentanyl and buprenorphine are drugs that have similar chemical structures to elicit opiate agonistic or partial-agonistic effects although they include no opium-related chemical substance.
Opiate agonists work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system (CNS) activating neurotransmissions that signal pain relief, numbness, sedation, relaxation, and euphoria in high enough doses. Methadone is a full opiate agonist which means it can fully activate the receptors producing the same effects as heroin, although it works more slowly, helping the person to regain control in their lives by normalizing brain functions without producing euphoria.
According to the SAMHSA “Detoxification from short-acting opioids involves medication and, perhaps, counseling or other assistance to stabilize patients who are opioid addicted by withdrawing them in a controlled manner from the illicit opioids.”
Methadone is not intended to be a substitute opiate, but, rather a corrective one keeping the person stable while they remain engaged in the comprehensive services offered through the Opioid Treatment Program (OTP).
Using methadone to detox from other opiates provides 24 – 36 hours of relief from the intense cravings and withdrawals of the shorter-acting opioids as tolerance and dependency on those drugs is reduced. Short-acting opiates like heroin and morphine require frequent administrations based on their half-life, biological factors of the user such as tolerance and metabolism, and the route of drug administrations. The more exposures and the more intensified the effects are, the greater the dependence will be and many lives are taken over by the continuous need to seek, obtain, and use the drugs, despite the negative consequences.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey,” For many decades, heroin—a derivative of opium— was administered primarily by injection into a vein. However, in the 1990s the purity of available heroin reached very high levels, making other modes of administration (e.g., snorting, smoking) practical alternatives.” These modes of administration are referred to as “rapid delivery methods” meaning they allow the chemicals to reach the brain much quicker than oral ingestion. Many abusers use these same methods to intensify the effects of opiate painkillers, a practice that exponentially increases their dependency risk potentials.
For help finding methadone treatment call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) toll free anytime.
Reducing the consequences of opiate abuse and addiction is a significant benefit of using methadone to detox from other opiates. According to the SAMHSA “Detoxification from short-acting opioids involves medication and, perhaps, counseling or other assistance to stabilize patients who are opioid addicted by withdrawing them in a controlled manner from the illicit opioids.” It helps to reduce:
- Needle sharing and the spreading of diseases and infections like AIDs, Hepatitis C, HIV, and tuberculosis
- Prenatal complications during pregnancy
- Criminal behaviors such as theft, prostitution, and violence to obtain drugs on the street
- Cognitive deficits and emotional instabilities that inhibit the person’s quality of life
- Immoral behaviors that result in family disruptions, social conflicts, and possible dangers
- Production and performance losses that lead to unemployment, financial distress, and homelessness
A majority of individuals dependent on opiates have coexisting mental health disorders, are poly substance abusers, have physical health problems, and suffer social consequences from their opiate abuse and behaviors. The more medical and psychosocial needs they have, the more beneficial using methadone to detox from other opiates can be.
The benefits of using methadone to detox from other opiates can last up to 6 months allowing the person to take advantage of the comprehensive care, resources, and referrals that OTP providers use to help ensure detox treatment successes. Afterwards, they are easily able to transition to a longer term methadone maintenance treatment program if needed.
Opiate addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease where the risk of relapse is highest during the first 3- 6 months after detox, subsiding over a year, but, most opiate addicts do not make it that long without pharmacological treatment help. According to the SAMHSA “Similar to patients with other chronic disorders, many who are opioid addicted have been found to respond best to treatment that combines pharmacological and behavioral interventions.”
Relapse prevention is a benefit of using methadone to detox from other opiates because methadone deters illicit opiate use by blocking the effects of those drugs once a cross tolerance is achieved, usually in about 5 days. This allows the person to pursue the healthy improvements in their life without being sidetracked by the frequent intoxication, withdrawals, and need to obtain the other opiates. As their confidence, health, and quality of life improves, chances of relapse are greatly diminished. Call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) toll free to find help anytime.