Do the Effects of Methadone Stop Drug Cravings?
Opiate addictions encompass a wide variety of drugs, some of which include:
When used on a short-term basis, the risk of abuse and addiction remains low as far as the prescription opiate drugs go. In general, long-term use of any opiate drug can have damaging effects on the brain’s chemical processes.
Methadone, commonly used to treat opiate addictions, offers chronic opiate users a real chance at maintaining abstinence for the long-term. The effects of methadone rely on a daily dosing schedule that works to relieve the drug cravings addicts so often experience in recovery.
While the effects of methadone can go a long way towards helping a person abstain from drugs, supplementing the effects of methadone with ongoing psychosocial treatment supports can give recovering addicts an even better chance at long-term recovery.
Opiates and the Brain
The brain houses certain key neurotransmitter chemicals that closely resemble the chemical structure of opiate drugs. In turn, the brain receives opiates in much the same way it regulates its own neurotransmitter chemicals.
These interactions between opiates and the brain set the stage for opiate addictions to develop.
With ongoing use, the brain comes to rely on opiate effects to maintain a certain degree of chemical equilibrium, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.
In spite of this close affinity, ongoing opiate use slowly degrades brain cell structures and functions making them less sensitive to opiate’s effects. This process results in rising tolerance levels where the brain requires increasingly higher doses of the drug for normal function.
Methadone, a synthetic opiate drug, acts as a replacement drug for other addictive opiates. Unlike other opiates, the effects of methadone work slowly, which greatly reduces the drug’s addictive potential. Since methadone is itself an opiate, the effects of methadone naturally reduce the degree of drug cravings a person experiences.
As most addicts well know, frequent “hits” of opiates throughout the day are needed to maintain a certain desired effect. Likewise, the effects of methadone rely on a daily dosing schedule. As methadone produces a slow-acting effect, it only takes one dose per day to keep drug cravings in check.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, a single dose of methadone has to be large enough to ward off drug cravings but small enough to prevent a person from experiencing a “high” effect. Otherwise, too high or too low a dose can diminish the therapeutic effects of methadone.
Methadone treatment offers recovering addicts a way to wean off other addictive opiate drugs while at the same time reducing the level of drug cravings a person experiences. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the effects of methadone work best when used as a long-term, maintenance treatment approach.
As people recovering from chronic opiate addictions may well experience drug cravings for months or years after they stop using, methadone maintenance treatment can greatly decrease the degree of discomfort addicts experience during the early stages of recovery. Ongoing methadone treatment also reduces the likelihood a person will relapse in recovery.