What are the Immediate Effects of Methadone
The effects of methadone are helpful in its use as a pain reliever and as a part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance. It is a very strong, narcotic pain reliever. It is much stronger than over the counter pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Methadone is a synthetic agent that relieves symptoms of withdrawal from heroin and other opioids.
The initial methadone dose is the most likely to produce adverse effects, the most serious side effects being respiratory depression, respiratory arrest, shock, heart attack and death. A doctor should be consulted immediately if any of these side effects occur or if you show signs of an allergic reaction such as breaking out in hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
In the beginning of methadone maintenance treatment, patients are being withdrawn from opiates and most suffer from withdrawal symptoms. They may show some or all of the following signs and symptoms associated with withdrawal from heroin or other opiates: tearing of the eyes, runny nose, sneezing, yawning, excessive perspiration, goose-bumps, fever, chills, restlessness, irritability, weakness, anxiety, depression, dilated pupils, tremors, tachycardia, abdominal cramps, body aches, involuntary twitching and kicking movements, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal spasms, and weight loss. These symptoms are not to be confused with symptoms of withdrawal which can be very similar. Treatment
Treatment involves supportive care and medications. The most commonly used medication, clonidine, primarily reduces anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping. Other medications can treat vomiting and diarrhea.
According to NIDA, methadone is a long-acting synthetic opioid agonist medication that can prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce craving in opioid-addicted individuals. It can also block the effects of illicit opioids such as heroin. It has a long history of use in treatment of opioid dependence. Opiate drugs include heroin, morphine, codeine, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, methadone, and others.
Research has shown that methadone maintenance is more effective when it includes individual and/or group counseling, with even better outcomes when patients are provided with, or referred to, other needed medical-psychiatric, psychological, and social services.
Because methadone is an opioid, some people view treatments for opioid dependence as just substitutions of one addictive drug for another. But taking these medications as prescribed allows patients to hold jobs, avoid street crime and violence, and reduce their exposure to HIV by stopping or decreasing shared needle use and drug-related high-risk sexual behavior. Once stabilized on these medications patients are also more likely to engage in counseling and other behavioral interventions essential to recovery.
In the United States, there are about 1,400 methadone maintenance programs serving over 254,000 patients, according to a 2006 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Research has established that most patients require a methadone dose of 60-120 mg/day, depending on their individual responses, to achieve optimum therapeutic effects. Yet studies have indicated that many methadone patients receive lesser doses. Studies have also found that methadone programs strongly advocating an abstinence recovery goal were the most likely to provide doses of methadone below 60 mg/day.