Coping with the Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms
Some describe the symptoms of methadone withdrawal as worse than those of prescription or other illegal opiates. This is because methadone has a longer half life than other opiates.
The same thing that makes it an effective treatment for opiate withdrawal makes the methadone withdrawal symptoms last longer. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to cope with the methadone withdrawal symptoms.
One way to cope is through the use of replacement drugs. One of the most common medications to replace methadone with is buprenorphine. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, buprenorphine might not be as effective as methadone, particularly when it is used to replace methadone. This necessitates further treatment for break through symptoms.
Doctors often start a patient on buprenorphine for methadone withdrawal and then gradually switch the patient to Suboxone. Suboxone’s abuse potential is much lower than that of both methadone and buprenorphine. This makes it the optimum maintenance treatment for those who do not tolerate methadone well.
Coping with Physical Withdrawal through Tapering
Aside from replacement medications, you can cope with the physical withdrawal by tapering off methadone following a tapering schedule. According to the Veterans Administration, there is a specific protocol to follow when tapering off any medication. This protocol is:
- Tapering should be slow. The longer you are on methadone the slower the tapering will be.
- Avoid using other addictive drugs during or after tapering, including benzodiazepines.
- The patients overall welfare needs to be taken into account before a tapering schedule and dosages is decided.
- Taper doses need to be reduced by 20 to 50 percent each week once the initial withdrawal is handled.
- Clonidine may be used to help with tapering and break through symptoms.
This tapering protocol is only effective for those who want to get completely off all opiate and opiate replacement medications.
Coping with Emotional Withdrawal
As with any drug withdrawal, methadone withdrawal has emotional consequences as well as physical ones. To cope with the emotional withdrawal symptoms counseling is necessary. There are a variety of counseling methods available but the one that is most effective is the one that works for the individual rather than a standardized therapy.
Many people who take methadone have already been through the standard forms of therapy so new approaches should be utilized. Some of the new approaches can include:
- Individual counseling with a focus on the feelings a patient has about leaving methadone behind.
- Group counseling with others who are also getting off methadone.
- 12 step programs that are designed for those who want to leave methadone behind.
Finding Methadone Withdrawal Treatment
Since methadone is a maintenance drug, stopping methadone treatment is a very individual choice. There is both withdrawal and the presence of a chronic pain condition to consider.
To find a treatment center that is geared towards coping with both of these problems, all you have to do is call 800-891-9360(Who Answers?). We can help you find the treatment you need to cope with your methadone withdrawal symptoms.