Is Weaning Off Methadone Something I Can Do On My Own?
Methadone maintenance treatment provides those in recovery with a means for maintaining continued abstinence from opiate abuse while building a drug-free lifestyle. Ultimately, the “maintenance” aspect is a primary goal in this treatment approach.
While the notion of weaning of methadone may seem like something you can do on your own, the weaning process can be risky so it’s important to have the right treatment supports in place.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment
The methadone maintenance treatment approach, also known as MMT, uses methadone as a medication therapy and a series of behavior-based interventions as tools to help recovering addicts overcome the physical and psychological effects of addiction. More often than not, methadone maintenance treatment requires a long-term commitment with treatment duration varying based on the severity of any one person’s addiction.
According to Texas Christian University, a minimum of a year is required in order for MMT to produce long-term results in one’s daily life. In effect, the treatment supports provided through methadone maintenance treatment are vital to a person’s ongoing success in recovery. For these reasons, MMT programs incorporate guidelines to help you wean off methadone once your ready.
Call our helpline at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) to see if your insurance will help pay your rehab costs.
Weaning Off Methadone through Tapering
While it may seem simple enough to wean off methadone on your own, guessing at dosage amount reductions from day-to-day leaves you wide open for unexpected withdrawal and cravings effects, not to mention the potential for relapse. For these reasons, methadone maintenance treatment programs include a tapering phase as a standard part of the treatment process.
During the tapering phase, your physician gradually reduces daily dosage amounts down to zero. As dosage levels are tapered very slowly, the tapering phase can last anywhere from three to six months in duration.
While weaning off methadone, it’s likely you’ll experience some degree of withdrawal as the brain and body adjust to decreasing dosage amounts. According to the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, withdrawal effects tend to develop more slowly with methadone than with other opiate-based drugs, such as oxycodone and heroin.
Symptoms to watch our for include:
- Problems sleeping
- Body aches
- Loss of appetite
- Mild drug cravings
- Mild depression symptoms
As methadone’s therapeutic effects works to eliminate withdrawal and drug cravings effects, weaning off methadone should not be attempted until you’ve developed the habits and coping skills needed to sustain a drug-free lifestyle. Otherwise, the potential for relapse runs extremely high.
As part of the MMT tapering phase, behavior-based interventions will likely focus on honing your coping skills by helping you develop relapse prevention strategies for times when the urge to use seems overwhelming.
The likelihood of experiencing strong withdrawal effects runs highest towards the end of the tapering phase. During this time, it’s important to have needed treatment supports in place to prevent an untimely relapse episode.
Treatment supports to consider include:
- Frequent and Regular support group meeting attendance
- Regular psychotherapy sessions
- Staying in close contact with your sponsor
- Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise
If you or someone you know are considering methadone maintenance treatment and have more questions, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addiction specialists.