How is Methadone Treatment Administered & Will It Help Me?
Methadone has been the standard in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction for decades. Part of its popularity arises from its record of positive results. Because it is such a go to, most people have heard of methadone and methadone clinics. However, that may be the extent of your knowledge.
If you are considering methadone maintenance treatment, naturally you will be curious about how the treatment is given and whether or not it offers you benefits. The following discussion will cover the basics of methadone administration (like dosage, frequency, and form), as well as some of the positive outcomes associated with this treatment type.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a synthetic painkiller that is most often used to treat heroin addicts and people addicted to other opiates. It is also used to relieve pain.
German scientists developed it in the 1930s as a replacement for morphine. They were looking for something that wasn’t as addictive. Unlike morphine, methadone has a mild and gradual onset that means it prevents a user from getting high.
In the 1960s, scientists began working with the drug as a treatment for heroin addicts and in 1971 federal regulations were set in place to govern the use of methadone.
What Forms Does Methadone Come In?
Methadone is available as:
- An oral solution
- A tablet
- An injectable
- A white, crystalline powder
Generally, clinics dispense the liquid form. The liquid form allows dosages to be tightly controlled and adjusted, ensuring patients get the correct amount. However, diskettes, the tablet form of the drug, may be dissolved in water and ingested orally as well. The powder may also be ingested this way.
What Dose Is Most Common?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of dosing program. Doses used for opioid addiction treatment are based on opioid tolerance and body weight. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, “proper dosage is measured and determined by a patient’s decline in opiate cravings.”
The initial dose is generally given when withdrawal symptoms are still in place. Patients are given between 20 and 30 mg orally and supervised. If withdrawal symptoms persist, an additional 5 to 10 mgs may be administered. The first dose should be no more than 30 mg. The dosage will be adjusted throughout the first week based on the degree to which it eliminates withdrawal effects.
Single doses should not exceed 80-100 mg daily. The diskettes typically are 40 mgs each.
How Often Must Methadone Be Taken?
People receiving methadone maintenance treatment must take the drug daily. This means going to the clinic each day and picking up your dosage. In some treatment programs, a history of responsible behavior can allow people to take dosages home with them to self-administer. This enables certain patients to decrease the number of visits that they need to make.
Is Methadone Effective?
Yes. When used to treat heroin and prescription drug addiction, research shows it is effective. The National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts the following effects of methadone. It:
- Reduces the use of illicit drugs
- Reduces criminal activity
- Reduces needle sharing
- Reduces HIV infection rates and transmission
- Is cost-effective
- Reduces episodes of commercial sex work
- Reduces reports of multiple sex partners
- Improves social health and productivity
- Improves overall health conditions
- Retains users in addiction treatment
- Reduces instances of suicide
- Reduces instances of lethal overdose
Your main concern is probably whether or not methadone will keep you off of heroin or prescription opioids and the answer is: yes. Illicit opioid use has been demonstrated to reduce in direct relationship to the methadone dose, the amount of psychosocial counseling your receive, and the amount of time you remain in treatment. Longer stays in treatment generally relate to better outcomes.
IT is important to remember that the drug is only one component of treatment. There will be counseling as well and you need to participate in it for the methadone to work fully.
For more information about counseling and methadone treatment, call 800-678-5931(Who Answers?) . If you are ready to enter treatment, take the first step toward recovery today.