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Methadone Pros and Cons: Everything You Need to Know

Some substance abuse treatments require the use of synthetic medication to reduce the pain or cravings that often come with their withdrawal symptoms. For instance, those with opioid addiction can benefit from medication-assisted treatment.

Methadone is a synthetic drug often given by doctors to help alleviate extreme pain and other challenging symptoms of opioid abuse withdrawal. It is often taken as a replacement for drugs, but produces none of the addictive effects.

However, methadone should not be taken lightly. This article will explore the pros and cons of methadone treatment to help inform your next steps.

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic medication typically used to treat opioid addiction, primarily heroin and fentanyl abuse.

It binds itself to the same brain receptors as opioids, but does not produce the same “high.” This helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in those with addictions.

It’s usually taken as part of a treatment plan and does not “cure” addiction.

How Is Methadone Used?

Methadone is used either as a painkiller or to help treat addiction.

Typically, a doctor will prescribe methadone to patients who have undergone surgery or if they’re in severe pain from an injury or illness.

It may also be prescribed as part of your addiction treatment plan. Whichever context you are receiving it in, it’s important to recognize methadone is a highly-regulated medication that should only be taken from a licensed professional.

What Are the Advantages of Methadone?

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When used as prescribed, methadone can be a long-lasting and highly effective treatment for opioid addiction.

Reduced Cravings

Methadone can reduce opioid cravings because it replaces the effect drugs like heroin or fentanyl have on your brain without producing the same euphoric effect. This also helps reduce the chances of relapse and makes it easier for people to stay in recovery.

Lessen Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are often what leads those with opioid addiction to relapse because they’re so sickening and uncomfortable.

If you have been thinking about taking that first step to recovery but are worried about experiencing withdrawal symptoms, taking methadone can help you navigate them more comfortably and safely.

Improved Quality of Life

While withdrawal symptoms can often trigger a relapse, so can a loss of structure in your life as you make dramatic changes.

However, methadone can often help users create new routines. It is typically administered once a day to prevent further substance abuse. This helps patients create predictability and balance as they transition to a new lifestyle and undergo treatment.

Reduced Chances of Overdose

Overdoses are a dangerous complication associated with drug abuse. They can occur when a person takes too much of a drug or takes a drug that interacts with another substance. This can result in organ failure, coma, or even death.

Luckily, using methadone to treat substance abuse reduces your risk of a drug overdose. In fact, people with opioid addiction were found to have an 80% lowered risk of dying from an overdose compared to those in treatment without medication assistance.

Time To Pursue Other Interests

Generally, using medication helps those suffering from drug addiction to function better every day. Because they’re not searching for a “high” anymore, addicts can attend social activities or go to work or school with ease. Exploring other interests and fulfilling commitments helps distract people from drugs and stay on track with their recovery.

What Are the Disadvantages of Methadone?

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For all its benefits, methadone is not a “cure” for addiction. It’s important to weigh the potential negatives before pursuing it as a treatment option.

It Can Be Addictive

Methadone, just like any other drug, has the potential to become addictive if taken incorrectly or at a higher dosage than prescribed. Patients should be aware of this and determine whether they believe they can stick to the recommended dose.

Also, methadone withdrawal is real and can be incredibly hard to kick. It can be worse than withdrawal from the drug you are trying to treat in some cases.

Unwanted Side Effects

While it can help reduce dependence on harmful substances, methadone treatment can cause several side effects. These may include nausea, vomiting, sweating, or fatigue. It can also lead to respiratory issues or dental problems, especially when consuming methadone varieties that are high in sugar.

Methadone can also negatively interact with other medications—including benzodiazepines—and increase the risk of an overdose.

Weighing The Pros and Cons of Methadone

Discussing the pros and cons of methadone treatment with a licensed medical professional can help you make informed decisions. Together, you may decide that methadone should be incorporated into your treatment plan. Or, maybe not.

What’s important to remember is that methadone treatment must always be used under the supervision of a trained healthcare professional. You should never start taking methadone without first consulting those qualified to provide guidance.

Find the Right Treatment for Opioid Addiction

The pros and cons of methadone paint a complex picture.

It can be a helpful aid for those battling opioid addiction, but isn’t right for everyone. Recovery isn’t linear—don’t let that discourage you from taking the all-important first step.

At Freedom From Addiction, we offer a holistic approach to addressing addiction and other harmful behaviours. We offer comprehensive rehabilitation programs and services to ensure our patients regain control of their lives while receiving the best care.

Contact us today to learn more about methadone pros and cons, and, more importantly, to find out how we can help you!


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